Attendance at school

Attending school every day improves a child’s future life outcomes. It supports their learning and wellbeing.

Parents must make sure their child goes to school every day. This is a parent’s legal responsibility.

Attendance at school is required from the age of 6 years.

Compulsory school age - 6 to 16 years

Children and teenagers must be in school from 6 years to 16 years old.

They must attend a government or non-government school full time.

Compulsory education age - 16 to 17 years

Teenagers must go to school or an approved learning program until they turn 17 unless they:

  • achieve their SACE or other qualification
  • are in full-time employment.

Approved learning programs

Approved learning programs are run by:

An approved learning program could be:

  • accredited courses
  • apprenticeships or traineeships
  • university
  • other programs authorised by the Minister for Education (or delegate).

Leaving school early for full-time employment

From 15 years, teenagers can leave school if they have full-time employment. There are specific requirements.

If your child is 15 years old:

  • you can seek an exemption from school
  • they need a job that is at least 30 hours a week.

If your child is 16 years old:

  • they need a job that is at least 25 hours a week.

Talk to your school if your child wants to work full-time. You will need a letter from the employer that guarantees:

  • the job
  • the number of hours your child will be employed.

If your child’s employment finishes before they turn 17 your child must go back to school.

Students and part-time employment

School students can work part-time as long as it is outside of school hours.

Part-time work must not interfere with school. For example, students should not work night shifts as this can make them tired. This makes it harder to learn the next day.

An employer or parent could be prosecuted if they ask a student to work in these ways. This means being fined or getting a criminal conviction.

If you need support with getting to school or preschool

Check the Department for Education’s attendance support for families webpages.

You can also call the parent helpline for support on 1300 364 100.

Related information

On this site

Other websites


Education and Children's Services Act 2019

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Page last updated 1 July 2020

Provided by:
Department for Education
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