Moving to Sydney, made easy.

Moving to Sydney? Learn about the different phases of education

in Australia and how to enroll your child in a school.

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School enrollment and attendance are required for all children living in Australia aged 5 to 16 and all students are entitled to free education at a state-run school.

Basic education in Australia is divided into four phases:

  • Nursery School: Starting at least two years of age, many children attend a nursery school or a nursery class of a primary school. Nursery school is not compulsory.
  • Primary School: Similar to elementary school and early middle school in the United States, Primary School covers kindergarten through 7th grade (12-13-year-olds)
  • Secondary School: Sometimes referred to as ‘college’, secondary school is equivalent to Sixth Form in the UK and high school in the United States.
  • Tertiary Education: This typically refers to a university or college. Institutions of higher education charge tuition, but it varies depending on whether you have Australian citizenship or not. Citizens 

Primary and secondary schools have four terms per school year. The first runs from late January or early February to the Easter holiday; the second runs from post-Easter holidays to late June or early July; the third runs from late July to the latter half of September; the fourth term runs from mid-October to mid-December. (The breaks in between these terms are referred to as ‘schoolies’; around Australia, travel costs will be significantly higher and destinations will be significantly busier as families take advantage of the break to take a holiday.)

These schools will also have certain admission criteria. The criteria could be based on having siblings at the school, living nearby to the school, religious affiliation, or meeting academic standards.  Enrollment into one of these schools is free for all residents in the catchment area with citizenship or primary residence. If you are on a visitor visa or are not a citizen or with PR status, then you may be turned away if they are full. You will then have the option to be put on a waiting list or opt-in for private schooling. 

The ultimate guide to education in Sydney

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