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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 South Australia, you have to go to school from the age of 6 until you turn 16 years of age.
Once you turn 16 you can:

  • decide to stay in school until the end of year 12, including studying for your SACE, IB or Steiner Education Course;
  • do some kind of approved education full time (TAFE courses, enrol in a university degree, diploma or other course);
  • do approved training full time (for example an apprenticeship or traineeship); 
  • do a combination of approved training and approved education.

More information about apprenticeships.
More information about TAFE.

You have to do these things until you turn 17 years old or gain a qualification under one of the options we’ve outlined above. Once you turn 17 or achieved a qualification under an approved learning program, you don’t have to continue with any kind of education or training, but it’s a good idea to because it will increase your chances of getting a job in the future.

In very special circumstances, you can get permission to leave school before Year 10. 

What happens if I don’t go to school?

If you don’t go to school when you’re required to (between the age of 6 and 16, or until do approved education or training until you’re 17), your parents can get in trouble and even be fined.    If you have a good reason for not attending school (for example, a medical condition), then your parents won’t get in trouble.

If you’re not at school during school hours, a police officer or someone from the Education Department can stop you in a public place and ask you your name, address and age.  They can also take you to school or to your parents.


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 can 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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