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.  Specialist advice and support is available to parents/caregivers of children with disabilities to help them access educational services. Talk to the school as early as possible about these services.


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 development of early language, literacy and numeracy skills.

Kindergarten to Year 6

Children may enter kindergarten at 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.

In NSW, ATAR courses are developed by the NSW Education Standards Authority for which the Authority conducts formal examinations that give you a graded assessment. These are the only courses that can be included in the ATAR calculation. ATAR courses are classified as either Category A or Category B courses. Only two units of Category B courses can be included in the ATAR calculation. Your ATAR rank is used for tertiary education admission.

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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