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In South Australia, parents have the option to send their children to a government (commonly referred to as public school), independent or Catholic school or preschool.  Independent and Catholic schools may sometimes be referred to as “private schools”.

It is compulsory that children residing in South Australia are enrolled in school by their sixth birthday and all young people under the age of 17 are required to attend full-time schooling, training or work for at least 25 hours per week. 

For children starting school for the first time, the year that they commence school depends on their birth date. 

  • If your child turns 5 before 1 May, they can start primary school (reception) the first day of term 1 of that year.
  • If your child turns 5 on or after 1 May, they can start primary school (reception) the first day of term 1 of the following year.

Public schools generally will have one intake (commencement date) per year, which is at the commencement Term 1 (usually at the end of January).  Private schools may offer two or more intakes per year (generally Term 1 and Term 3), and we recommend enquiring with individual schools if this would suit your personal situation.

If you are considering public education, the school that your child will be placed in is based on the child’s residential address.  This applies for both primary and high school.  You may be asked to provide some information to the school as proof of residence (e.g. electricity bill, rates notice, etc).  Based on this residential information, you will fit in to a school ‘zone’, which is a defined area surrounding a school from which the school accepts its core intake of students.  You can find out what school you are zoned to on the SA Education website –

Public schools are all co-educational and are usually either Primary Schools (years Reception to Year 6 or 7) and High/Senior Schools (Years 7 or 8 to year 12).  Some public Primary Schools are located on the same site or very close to their relevant high school, though this is not always the case.

Private schools can either offer R-12 (reception to year 12) or either Primary or Secondary schools.  There is no zoning that applies to private schools; students can be enrolled from any location and some schools also offer boarding services for students attending school that live a long distance from the school’s campus. 

The cost of schooling in South Australia varies depending on the type of education you choose.  Public schooling is provided free (or for a very low annual fee) to all students.  Private schools charge for tuition at their own discretion.  This can range anywhere from $2,000 – $30,000 per year.  The financial commitment of education is an important factor to consider when choosing your child’s education path.

The South Australian Government website for education has an abundance of information available for a number of topics (choosing a school, getting to school, etc).   The following links are a good place to start if you are considering educating your child in South Australia.


General Information:


Early Childhood:


Primary School:


High School:

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