Primary and Secondary Education

Compulsory attendance requirements
School education in Australia is compulsory between certain ages as specified by state or territory legislation. Depending on the state or territory, and date of birth of the child, school is compulsory from the age of five to six to the age of fifteen to seventeen.

In the ACT, NSW, the Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria, and Western Australia, children are legally required to attend school from the age of six years old, until the minimum leaving age. In Tasmania, the compulsory school starting age is 5 years old.

In recent years, over three quarters of students stay at school until they are seventeen. Government schools educate approximately 60% of Australian students, with approximately 40% in Catholic and independent schools. A small portion of students are legally home-schooled, particularly in rural areas.

Government schools
Government schools (also known as public schools) are free to attend for Australian citizens and permanent residents, while Catholic and independent schools usually charge attendance fees. However, in addition to attendance fees, stationery, textbooks, uniforms, school camps and other schooling costs are not covered under government funding. The additional cost for schooling has been estimated to be on average $316 per year per child.

Regardless of whether a school is part of the Government, Catholic or independent systems, they are required to adhere to the same curriculum frameworks of their state or territory. The curriculum framework however provides for some flexibility in the syllabus, so that subjects such as religious education can be taught. Most school students wear uniforms, although there are varying expectations and some Australian schools do not require uniforms. A common movement among secondary schools to support student voice has taken form as organisations such as VicSRC in Victoria bring together student leaders to promote school improvement.

Private and independent schools
In 2010 66% of students in Australia attended government schools, 20% attended Catholic schools and 14% attended independent schools. In 2000 these figures were 69%, 20% and 11% respectively.
Most Catholic schools are either run by their local parish, local diocese and their state's Catholic education department. Independent schools include schools operated by secular educational philosophies such as Montessori; however, the majority of independent schools are religious, being Protestant, Jewish, Islamic or non-denominational.

Some Catholic and independent schools charge high fees, and because of this Government funding for these schools is often criticised by the Australian Education Union and the Greens.