When can I leave school?

You have to go to school from the age of 6 until you turn 16 years of age.

Once you turn 16 years of age you can leave school but you have to stay in some form of education or training or a combination of work, education and/or training until you turn 17 years old. You could do one of the following things :

  • complete secondary schooling, including studying towards:
    • SACE (South Australian Certificate of Education)
    • International Baccalaureate (IB)
    • Steiner Education (Waldorf Schools) Secondary Education
  • enrol in a TAFE course or an accredited courses offered by registered training organisations;  
  • start an apprenticeship or traineeship;
  • enrol in a university degree, diploma or other university award course;
  • complete another program organised by the Minister for Education;
  • a combination of the above.

If you are 16 years old and wish to continue home schooling, you need to apply for an exemption.

To leave school before you complete Year 10, you have to get permission from the Minister for Education. Permission is only granted in exceptional circumstances.

Once you turn 17 or you are 16 years of age and have achieved a qualification under an approved learning program, you no longer need to be in any kind of education or training institution.

Will I be fined I don’t attend school?

If you do not attend school between the age of 6 and 16, your parents can be prosecuted and fined.    If you have a good reason for not attending school (for example, a medical condition) then your parents may be able to use it as a defence to prosecution.

Will someone check up on me if I don’t go to school?

The Department of Education give specific people special permission to investigate and question you about why you are not at school. They can be police officers or another person authorised by the Department sometimes called ‘attendance officers.’  The officer can:

  • approach you if you look to be a person of school age who is not at school; and
  • request your name and address; 

The officer may also go to your home to speak to you and your parents about why you haven’t been at school .

But what if I don’t enjoy school?

If you are unhappy at school it is a good idea to discuss your problems with someone that you can trust, such as the school counsellor, your family or a family friend.

This page was last updated 29 June 2011.

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