School Age Calculator Australia

Use the calculator below to determine when your child can start kindergarten and school

Results

Prior to first year of school, your child will be in

Pre-School in 2013

As the first year of Primary, your child will be in

Kindergarten in 2015

Your child will enter Primary School Year 1 in

2016

Your child will start High School Year 7 in

2022

Entry to school starts in late January or early February each year. Click to see Term and Holiday dates in Australia

Results are based on information from State and Territory government departments, please consult your local department prior to enrolling in school.


Kindergarten and School Year Enrolment in Australia

A child’s early education in Australia consists of kindergarten or early learning starting at either 3 or 4 years old and then primary school starting at age 5 or 6. Education is in general quite standard around Australia, however each state and territory has their own differences to be aware of.

Kindergarten / Early Learning

Kindergarten, also known as kindy, pre-school or early learning, is a structured learning program for children administered by a qualified teaching professional with other children in a group. A four year old kindergarten program is most commonly attended in the year prior to attending school, with many children also completing a three year old kindergarten programs prior to that as well.

Kindergarten programs are offered at various types of facilities. Firstly, kindergartens, which typically run as half day or 3-5 hours sessions for several days per week and are often aligned to the local council or community groups. Childcare and early learning centres which offer full day care program (e.g. full time care, 5 days per week) will also offer kindergarten programs as part of their learning curriculum.

Separate to the above, in Tasmania and Northern Territory, the government has an organised kindergarten program as part of the schooling system, where children attend kinder at the school for around 15 hours per week in the year they are four, then move straight into primary school years thereafter. In addition, some private schools may also offer early learning programs or 3 and 4 year old kinder which are located in the school grounds, with most students then following into the primary year levels in the same school.

Primary School

Primary school is the start of the formal school system and is compulsory for all students to attend. The first year of enrolment into primary school is known by different names in each state and is known as prep (Vic, Qld, Tas), kindergarten/kindy (NSW), pre-primary (WA), reception (SA) and transition (NT, ACT).

Primary school runs for 7 years, with prep or the first year of school essentially being year 0, followed by grades 1 to grade 6. Students then enter high school for a further 6 years of schooling from grade 7 through to grade 12.

Minimum Starting Age for Australian Schools

Every parent will inevitably ask, when does my child start school? When a child actually start is determined by their date of birth and the cut off dates set by the State or Territory government where the child will attend school. The child needs to be 5 years old before the cut-off date to attend school starting in January of that year, a summary is provided in the table below.

School Age Cut-Off Dates - Australia

State Cut-off Date
New South Wales (NSW) 31 July
Victoria (VIC), Australian Capital Territory (ACT) 30 April
Queensland (QLD), Western Australia (WA), Northern Territory (NT) 30 June
South Australia (SA) 1 May
Tasmania (TAS) 1 January

Flexibility on When Children Can Start

It is important to note that the age guideline is a minimum, not a maximum and it is common for parents to delay the starting year for their child until the year they turn 6. This situation arises for any child who has a birthday before the cut-off dates above. Take NSW for example, where the cut-off date is 31 July. Parents of children born from January to July must decide whether to send their child to school at the age of between 4.5 to 5 years old, or wait 12 months until they are between 5.5 to 6 years old. Children born in August to December have no choice about when to start school except in special circumstances.

Having cut-off dates mid-way through the year can result in situation where two children that are just weeks apart in age can start school 12mths apart from one another if their birthdays sit on either side of the cut-off date. This can be frustrating for parents if their child has friends close in age that will attend school in different year levels. Take the example below:

  • Lucy: Born 1st April 2014 in Victoria. Since Lucy is born prior to cut-off date she is eligible to attend primary in the year she turns five, which is in 2019. She will be 4 years and 9mths at the start of the school year.
  • Oliver: Born on 1st June 2014 in Victoria. Since Oliver is born after the cut-off date, Oliver will start a year later in 2020. He will be 5 years and 7 months old when school starts.


In Lucy’s case her parents have the option to start Lucy one year later in 2020, the year she turn six. In this case she would be 5 years and 9 months at the start of the school year in January and would now one of the older children in the class group.

Selecting the Right Year of Entry

The decision for parents on when to enrol their child is a not an easy one. There is two primary reasons which may cause parents to consider delaying the year in which their children start school.

  • Child development and maturity – For various reasons children may not be perceived as not ready to join school at the age of four-and-a-half to five. This could be related to general maturity, social skills, learning impairments and whether the child can act independently away from their parents. The key consideration for any parent is to ensure their child enjoys school, can interact effectively with other children and engage with the learning program.
  • Academic and extra-curricular performance - Parents may also defer the year of enrolment simply because they believe being older will be an advantage. Older children can be seen to outperform their younger peers and over the course of their schooling life may achieve better academic results, have a physical advantage in school sports and be more mature socially.


Data available from Queensland suggests that the 85% of children born prior to the cut-off date in a given year will attend in the year they turn five, with around 15% choosing to wait until the following year. Children with birthdays occuring very close to the cutoff date are much more likely to defer than those born earlier. Income is also a factor with higher income families more likely to defer and have the ability to absorb additional child care costs for another year.

Making the Best Decision for Your Child

If you are faced with this decision there is no right or wrong answer and it is entirely your decision as the parent to make the best decision for your child. Proponents of going to school at five will argue that if the child has no perceived development issues, attends pre-school and kindergarten or a play group without any concerns, then delaying a year may be unnecessary. The State and Territory guidelines are based on expert knowledge, expertise and insights from based on many thousands of children attending school each year, and as such the starting age for school is deemed appropriate for children of that age.

It can also be said that if a child is younger than the average in their grade, then over time the age gap between the younger child and other children will reduce (relative to their total age) and even if an age gap was noticeable in the first place, it will become less noticeable over time as they progress through school. Schools are also skilled at dealing with a range of students and will respond to the rates of progress, needs and learning styles of individual students, hence ensuring most children have a positive experience regardless of age.

Notwithstanding all of the above, there are circumstances when deferring the year of school entry is warranted and is the best thing for the child. Delaying the starting age wil never do any harm and may be the best solution for the child and parents. Parents who are considering the right starting year for their child should talk to the child’s kindergarten teacher, who will be well placed to assess readiness for school.

In addition to talking to teachers and carers, parents can also consider the following factors to assess whether their child is ready for school:

  • Social skills – Getting along with other children, adhering to basic manners, asserting themselves, playing independently and with others.
  • Emotional maturity - Ability to manage their emotions, work in groups, focus on tasks, follow directions and understand rules.
  • Language skills – Ability to talk and listen to adults, speak clearly and communicate their needs.
  • Cognitive Skills - Basic understanding of numbers, thinking and reasoning skills, able to wait and take turns.
  • Physical health and coordination - fine motor skills (e.g. holding a pen, turning pages in a book) and physical coordination (running, jumping, climbing and playing ball).
  • Independence - Basic skills to manage their needs without adult supervision such as going to the toilet, dressing, eating their lunch and managing their belongings.