Education in New South Wales


Schooling in New South Wales follows a curriculum based on stages of learning.  Each stage is approximately equivalent to two school years as students move from Early Stage 1 in Kindergarten through to Stage 6 in Years 11 and 12.

Starting School

Starting school is an important step in a young child’s life. Children develop at different rates and learn skills in different ways. It is the school’s task to respond to the needs, learning styles and rates of progress of individual students.  Specialist advice and support is available to parents/caregivers of children with disabilities to help them access appropriate educational services. Talk to the school as early as possible about these services.

Orientation Day

Most schools have orientation days towards the end of the previous year to welcome children to Kindergarten. Many schools also have transition to Kindergarten programs over several weeks in the second part of the year.


Preschools provide educational programs for children one year prior to enrolment in Kindergarten. A child may be eligible for enrolment in preschool from the beginning of the school year if they turn four years on or before 31 July that year.

Some preschools offer a half day session, with children attending either five mornings or five afternoons per week. Other preschools provide full day attendance for 2, 3 or 5 days per week.

The preschool program is designed to stimulate children’s thinking, communicating, investigating, exploring and problem solving skills. The program includes play-based activities that help children learn how to interact positively with other children and to recognise and accept their own feelings and those of others.

The program also supports the development of early language, literacy and numeracy skills.

Kindergarten to Year 6

Children may enter kindergartenat the beginning of the school year in NSW government schools if they turn five on or before 31 July in that year.  By law, all children must start school by their sixth birthday.

Kindergarten to Year 6 focuses on the key learning areas of English, Mathematics, Science & Technology, Human Society, Personal Development, Health and Physical Education, Creative Arts and Languages.

Preparing for high school

NSW students enter high school in Year 7. Once you have determined which high school you would like your child to attend, the next step is to complete an expression of interest. If your child is already attending year 6 in a public primary school you will receive this form during late term 1.

School leaving age

Students must complete Year 10 (or its equivalent), then remain in approved education or training or a combination of education and paid work until the age of 17.

Starting Year 11

Students begin to prepare for their HSC in Year 11 so it’s important to get settled into a good study routine at the beginning of the year. Study requirements will increase markedly in Year 11 and more so in Year 12.

There are two types of HSC courses students can study: Board Developed courses which are set and examined externally, and which may contribute to the calculation of a Universities Admission Index (UAI), and Board Endorsed courses which are developed by schools, TAFE or universities, which count towards HSC but do not count towards the calculation of the UAI. The subjects you take may influence an employer to select you for a particular position.

In particular consider VET Framework courses which will give you specific competencies that are valuable in the workplace. VET courses give students work-related skills in a variety of industry areas and can count towards the HSC if students sit the HSC exam. Students will receive a nationally recognised qualification when they successfully complete their course. Some VET courses are studied at school whilst others can be studied at TAFE.


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