School years

Find out about moving from child care to primary and then secondary school. You can also find information about home schooling and mutual obligation requirements.

Getting started with school

School education is similar all around Australia. There are only minor differences between states and territories. Primary and secondary school are compulsory between the ages of 6 and 16.

School education is for 13 years, divided into:

  • primary school for 7 or 8 years, from kindergarten or preschool to year 6 or 7
  • secondary school for 3 to 4 years - years 7 to 10 or years 8 to 10
  • senior secondary school for 2 years - years 11 and 12.

Primary school

To start primary school, your child must be the compulsory starting age for your state or territory. You’ll need to contact your chosen school to find out how to enrol.

Your child must be at school by the time they reach the compulsory school starting age.

During primary school, we may be able to help with care outside of school hours.

If you need before or after school care

You may be able to get Child Care Subsidy to help with before and after school care. You may also be able to get it if you use vacation care during school holidays.

Secondary school

You’ll need to contact your chosen school to find out how to enrol.

Secondary school students and their families may be able to claim payments from us.

Home schooling

Home schooling means you’re in charge of educating your dependent children during their compulsory education period. This starts at the beginning of the year in which your child turns 5 years and 6 months. Depending on which happens first, it finishes either:

  • at the end of the year in which they turn 17 years and 6 months
  • when they turn 18 years old.

If you want to educate your children at home, you’ll need to register them with your State or Territory Education department.

Home schooling may affect your ability to meet your mutual obligation requirements if you’re getting certain income support payments from us. Read more about exemptions from mutual obligation requirements for principal carers.

Payments for students

Payments will depend on the student’s situation. These may include:

What other payments you can get

Depending on your child’s age, you may be eligible for:

If you get FTB or CCS, it’s important to update your family income estimate. You should update your CCS activity test details separately.

What you can do online

The easiest way to update your details is online. You may also need to provide an immunisation history statement to prove your immunisations are up to date for school.

If you don’t have online accounts you’ll need to create them.


If your Centrelink online account is linked to myGov, sign in now to:

  • update your income estimate or activity test
  • claim and manage CCS, FTB and other payments
  • confirm child care enrolment so you don’t miss out on CCS
  • update your child’s education details.

Sign in to myGov

You can also use the Express Plus Centrelink mobile app.

For help, use our guides to:


If your Medicare online account is linked to myGov, sign in now to get an immunisation history statement.

Sign in to myGov

You can also use the Express Plus Medicare mobile app.

If your child has disability or extra needs

Our Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme can help if your child can’t attend their local government school. This can be because of disability, special needs or living in an isolated area.

Child Disability Assistance Payment is a yearly payment. It helps with the costs of caring for a child with disability.

Carer Adjustment Payment is a one-off payment. You may get it if your child is under 7 and has:

  • a severe illness
  • a medical condition
  • major disability.

Carer Payment is income support if you give constant care to a child with a severe disability or illness.

Carer Allowance is a supplement you may be able to get if you get Carer Payment.

Help managing your money

Your child’s education could be one of your family’s biggest expenses.

Use the simple money manager to plan ahead.

Set a savings target that works for you. Then watch your savings add up. You can use the savings goal calculator on the Moneysmart website to make a start.

The weekly payment option can allow you to get your income support payment weekly. This can help you if you find it hard to budget a fortnightly payment. You can’t get Family Tax Benefit paid weekly.

If you get Family Tax Benefit or Carer Allowance, you can ask them to be offset. This means your payment can be paid on a different week to your income support payment. To find out if you’re eligible, call your regular payment line.

Saver Plus is a matched savings and financial education program offered locally by community organisations in every state and territory. Read more about it on the Brotherhood of St Laurence website.

Check if you qualify for a no interest loan from Good Shepherd. These loans provide safe, fair and affordable credit for essential goods and services. You can pay this loan back through Centrepay.

The Financial Information Service can help you make informed decisions about your finances.

Page last updated: 12 May 2023.
QC 60009