How is the educational system structured?
In South Australia:
- you can choose to send your child to a government, independent or Catholic school or preschool
- it is compulsory for children to be enrolled in a school by their sixth birthday
- the start date for school for all children is the first day of Term 1
- government schools are commonly referred to as public schools
- kindergarten is the same as preschool
- in some cases more than one stage of a child’s learning may be catered for at one location
- all young people under the age of 17 are required to attend full-time schooling, training or work for at least 25 hours per week.
- international students who wish to study and live in South Australia can attend public schools
Children 0 to 7
Children 0 to7 years of age are in the early stage of learning. This stage includes:
- preschool (kindergarten) - for children from 4 years of age. Aboriginal children can begin at 3 years of age
- reception - children usually begin primary school in reception at 5 or 6 years of age
- years 1 and 2 of primary school - usually children between 6 and 7 years of age.
8 to 10 year olds
8-10 year olds are usually in the primary years stage of learning. This stage includes year 3 to year 5 of primary school.
11 to 14 year olds
11-14 year olds are usually in the middle years stage of learning. This covers:
15 to 17 year olds
15-17 year olds are usually in the secondary years stage of learning. This covers year 10 to year 12 of high school. Students may choose to:
- complete year 12 and obtain their South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE)
- go on to other education and training options or work.
17 years and older
Young people aged 17 and older may choose to return to school to complete SACE, continue with formal study, participate in a community education program or start work.
What is the term dates for schools in South Australia?
Government school term dates
Government school term dates can be found on the education department website.
TAFE academic year
For important TAFE dates visit the TAFE SA website.
University academic year
University academic year dates vary:
How to choose a public school?
In metropolitan Adelaide most high schools and a small number of primary schools have a school zone.
A school zone is a defined area surrounding a school from which the school accepts its core intake of students. School zoning is one way schools can manage enrolment pressure.
Acceptance into a particular school is subject to the school’s capacity, and the principal of the school will be able to advise you if they have available places.
If you are renting or planning to purchase a property, you may want to consider the school zoning if you have school-going children or teens. However, do approach the school directly and arrange for a discussion to know more about the school and it's zoning policies as some schools may be already full in capacity and may have additional criteria on accepting new students.
How are public schools zoned?
Find out if the schools in your area are zoned using:
- the school and preschool finder
- primary school zoning directory
- high school zoning directory or view high school zones on a map.
Families residing in the greater metropolitan area may be located in an 'unzoned' area. Students who live in 'unzoned' areas will be allocated to their closest school. Where the student lives more than 5 kilometres from the nearest school and lives in an ‘unzoned’ area, the allocated school is the school serviced by a Department for Education-provided school bus service.
Can I apply for a public school if I'm not staying within its zone?
Students may register their interest in attending any school. Acceptance to a zoned school will depend on whether there are places available at the school. If places are available, selection for entry to the school will be based on:
- distance from your home to the school
- curriculum that cannot be offered at your zoned school
- social and family links
- transport and location convenience
- compelling or unusual reasons.
Which are the private schools in South Australia?
There are more than 200 private schools in South Australia for all levels of students. Kindly refer to this website for the list of private schools to give you a better overview and do visit their website, or give the school a call to make an appointment to visit the school for discussions to understand more about them, and determine if they meet the needs of the students.
Are there any International Baccalaureate schools in South Australia?
There are a number of primary and high schools in Adelaide, both public and private offering IB program.
The IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) for children aged 3 - 12 nurtures and develops young students as caring, active participants in a lifelong journey of learning.
Taught in over 109 countries around the world, the PYP curriculum framework is uniquely adaptable to state and national standards. Guided by six transdisciplinary themes of global significance, students deepen their learning by developing their conceptual understandings; strengthening their knowledge and skills across and beyond subject areas.
The International Baccalaureate® (IB) Middle Years Programme (MYP) is for students aged 11-16.
The MYP is a challenging framework that encourages students to make practical connections between their studies and the real world.
The MYP is a five-year programme, which can be implemented in a partnership between schools, or in several abbreviated (two, three or four year) formats. Students who complete the MYP are well-prepared to undertake the IB Diploma Programme (DP) or Career-related Programme (CP).
Find out more about the MYP.
The International Baccalaureate® (IB) Diploma Programme (DP) is for students aged 16-19.
Research suggests that there are many benefits to choosing the DP. The programme aims to develop students who have excellent breadth and depth of knowledge – students who flourish physically, intellectually, emotionally and ethically.
The DP curriculum is made up of six subject groups and the DP core, comprising theory of knowledge (TOK), creativity, activity, service (CAS) and the extended essay.
Through the DP core, students reflect on the nature of knowledge, complete independent research and undertake a project that often involves community service.
Find out more about the DP, including information on pathways to university and employment and on who can offer the programme.
The International Baccalaureate® (IB) Career-related Programme (CP) is designed for students aged 16-19.
The CP is a framework of international education that incorporates the values of the IB into a unique programme addressing the needs of students engaged in career-related education.
The programme leads to further/higher education, apprenticeships or employment.
Find out more about the CP.
Refer to the IB schools list for the list of schools that are offering IB program.