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When can I leave school?

If you are under 25 and you are unsure about your rights or responsibilities or what to do next, you can get free, confidential legal advice at Lawmail.

When can I leave school?

What happens if I don't go to school?

Unhappy at school?


When can I leave school?

In the Northern Territory, the law says that you have to go to school from when you turn 6 until you finish Year 10 or turn 17 (whichever happens first).

If you have finished Year 10 but you haven’t turned 17 yet, then you have to do one of the following:

  • Do some sort of approved education or training, for example an apprenticeship or traineeship or a TAFE Course at Charles Darwin University or the Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education;
  • if you’re over 15, work full-time (at least 25 hours a week);
  • if you’re over 15, work part-time and do some other form of education or training at the same time  (with a total of at least25 hrs/ week of doing both these things). 

For more information and how to apply to do these things, check out this website from the NT Department of Education.

In very special circumstances, you can get permission from the Minister for Education to leave school before you finish year 10.  This might be necessary if you are very sick for example.  If you would like more information about this, please send us a Lawmail.

What happens if I don’t go to school?

If you don’t go to school between the age of 6 and 17, or don’t complete Year 10, your parents can be fined.   However, if you have a good reason for not attending school (for example, you’re very sick) then it’s OK.

If you’re meant to be at school, a police officer, inspector or education officer with an ID card could approach you in a public place during school time to ask your name and address, the name of the school and take you either to your home or school. 

Unhappy at school?

If you’re not happy at school, it’s a good idea to talk to someone about what’s going on. You may want to talk to your school counsellor or career counsellor.  

Also check out this factsheet from Reach Out.

Finally, you always send us a Lawmail if you have a specific question about something that’s going on.  


This page was last updated 9 March 2015.




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