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Australian Primary School Education Print

Primary School Education



Primary school education covers students from Kindergarten or Preparatory year to Year 6. A child starts primary school when he or she is 5 or 6 years of age and finishes Year 6 when he or she is 12 or 13 years of age.


Starting School

While the school system of each State or Territory in Australia operates in a similar manner, the starting school age varies from State/ Territory to State/ Territory:

State/ Territory NSW
















Starting School Age 5y 5y 5y 5y 5y 5y 5y 5y
Cut-off date for Enrolment 31-Jul 30-Apr 30-Jun End Jan/Start of Term1 30-Jun 1-Jan 30-Apr 30-Jun
Compulsory Age for Schooling 6y 6y 6.6y 6y 6.6y 5y 6y 6y


Under special circumstances, children may be enrolled at a younger age. However, the school readiness of the child and the special circumstances will need to be assessed by the school principal.


Starting Kindergarten - more information on how to prepare a preschooler for the "Big School".


Primary Curriculum In NSW

NSW Board of Studies sets out curriculum and syllabuses for all schools in NSW and provides support materials.


The primary Curriculum is split into 3 stages:


  • Stage 1: Kindergarten to Year 2;
  • Stage 2: Year 3 and 4; and
  • Stage 3: Year 5 and 6



There are 8 subjects taught throughout the primary school years:


  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Science and Technology
  • PDHPE (Personal Development, Health and Physical Education)
  • HSIE (Human Society and Its Environment)
  • Creative Arts
  • Languages



Primary School Assessments and Exams in NSW


National Assessments (NAPLAN) in Year 3 and Year 5 :
compulsory assessments undertaking by students in Year 3 and 5, (also in year 7 and 9 in high schools) in all Australian schools from 2008. These assessments replace the previous Basic Skills Tests in NSW and to be used to assess students' literacy and numeracy skills. For further information, click HERE for details and sample tests.


School Assessment Grading (A-E):
The Common Grade Scale can be used to report students' achievement in both primary and junior secondary years in all NSW schools.

Opportunity Class Test in Year 4:
A non-compulsory test for academically gifted and talented students who choose to start Year 5 in an opportunity class in the public school system.


Selective High Schoo Test in Year 6 :
A non-compulsory test for academically gifted and talented students who choose to start Year 7 in a public selective school.


International Competitions and Assessments for Schools(ICAS)
Is conducted by Educational Assessment Australia, University of New South Wales. It covers the following subjects:

  • English (Year 3 – Year 10)
  • Mathematics (Year 3 – Year 10)
  • Science (Year 3 – Year 12)
  • Computer Skills (Year 3 – Year 10)
  • Writing (Year 3 – Year 10)
  • Spelling (Year 3 – Year 7)
  • General Achievement Test (GAT) (Year 6, 7 and 8)

These are non-compulsory assessments.


Special Programs in NSW Primary Schools

Gifted and Talented Programs
In public school system, there are:

In NSW Catholic Systemic schools and independent schools offer their own Gifted and Talented programs, extension programs or differentiate Learning to their students to suit the individual needs and to encourage the development of these students.


NSW Associationn for Gifted & Talented Children Inc. is a not for profit organization that provides support and resources for Gifted and Talented education. There are other organizations conducting enrichment workshops and course for gifted and talented school children, such as GERRIC , MUSEC.


English as a Second Language Programs (ESL)
available to all students of various stages.


Special Education:

Students with disabilities or learning difficulties may be enrolled in a school that can cater for the individual needs. Depending on the severities of the disabilities or the learning difficulties, the students may be educated in:

  • regular classes
  • support classes in regular schools
  • special schools



Many independent schools offer scholarships to students, in particular, to high school students.


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