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Starting preschool and school

This page explains how to apply to and enrol in government preschools and schools.

Non-government schools have their own process for application and enrolment — contact them for more information.

When to start

There are specific ages to start preschool and school.

Preschool starting ages – Aboriginal children, and children in care

Can start a week after they turn 3

If your child identifies as Aboriginal or is in care they are eligible for 12 hours of preschool a week after they turn 3. They will then be eligible for 15 hours per week of preschool in the year before they start school.

Preschool starting ages – children with disability or special needs

Can start earlier

If you have a child with disability or additional needs they might be able to start preschool earlier if there are places available. Talk to the principal or director if this applies to you. Being given early entry to preschool does not guarantee early entry to school.

Age calculator for other children

You can find out what year your children need to start school and preschool with our school-age calculator.

Please enter your child's month and year of birth:

Your child can start preschool in


Your child will start primary school in



All children are entitled to a preschool program over 4 terms in the year before they start school.

If your child turns 4 before 1 May, they can start preschool at the beginning of the year. If your child turns 4 on or after 1 May, they can start the next year.

Some children can start earlier. See the starting ages above for:

  • Aboriginal children
  • children in care
  • children with disability or special needs.

Primary school or reception

If your child turns 5 before 1 May, they can start primary school (the first year is known as reception) at the beginning of the year.

If your child turns 5 on or after 1 May, they can start the next year.

All children must be enrolled at school by 6 years of age, which is the compulsory school starting age.

Early or delayed entry to school are options that may be possible in specific circumstances, where it is in a child's best educational interests. If you think this applies to your child, talk to the principal.

Finding a preschool or school

Use the online tool to find your local preschool or school.

You can apply to enrol your child in a school or preschool that is not your local preschool or school, but offers will depend on available places. The school and preschool placements page has more detail about how places are decided.

Applying to start preschool or school for the next year

Submit application

To start preschool or primary school

Most preschools and primary schools usually open their application process for the next year before the end of term 2.

You can get an application form directly from the preschool or primary school you are interested in. Try to apply by 30 June.

You can apply to more than 1 preschool or primary school. You should also apply at your local preschool or primary school, in case your application to the non-local preschool or primary school is not successful.

You can still apply after 30 June, but late applications might mean it becomes more difficult to get into a non-local preschool or primary school, or a primary school with a capacity management plan.

To start high school

Every year there is a statewide transition process for year 7 students to go to public high schools. This transition process for families starts in term 2.

Currently, parents apply through this transition process when their child is in year 7. Starting in 2022, year 7 will be the first year of high school. For more information see the page on year 7 to high school.

Students at government schools

Year 7 students at public primary schools will get application information from their school.

This year there will be an online registration of interest form for public school families. You should get a unique URL for your child via email or letter from your primary school. 

Students at non-government schools

Year 7 students at non-government schools who want to apply for a public high school can get application information from their local public high school, local education office, or by filling in the registration of interest form for non-government school students (PDF 378KB) and emailing education.startingsecondaryschool@sa.gov.au.

Applying to a public high school

Through the statewide transition process, you can nominate your child for up to 3 non-local high schools, as well as your local (zoned) school. If your child currently goes to a combined school (eg reception to year 12), you can stay at that school or apply for another high school. You must apply by the due date.

See the starting secondary school in 2021 brochure (PDF 2,320KB) for more information.

After the transition process closes each year, schools will take late applications directly. Late applicants may have limited opportunity to attend a non-local high school or a school with a capacity management plan.

Applying to special interest programs in high school

Some high schools also offer students a particular focus program on a specific interest, and may have a selective entry process for year 7 students to apply for that program. This process is managed directly by the school. Contact the high school directly about its programs and application dates.

Wait for an enrolment offer

Preschool and primary school offers

When you apply, the preschool or school will tell you when you can expect to find out the result.

Offers for enrolment are generally made in 2 rounds:

  • Round 1 offers to local families begin in August. Primary schools can also confirm non-local applicants who have automatic entry in this round.
  • Round 2 offers to non-local families begin in September, if places are available. Families not offered enrolment in this round will go on a waiting list for future consideration.

Schools with a capacity management plan will only have 1 round of offers, to families that meet the enrolment criteria.

High school offers

Offers are made in order of the schools you nominate on the application. If you miss out on your nominated schools, you will be allocated to your local (zoned) school. There is more detail about the placement process on the school and preschool placement page.

All students will get their high school offer on the same day in term 3. Non-local students who miss out will be put on a waiting list for the school, if there is one.

If your allocated high school is not your first choice, the offer will also include review information and timelines. If the review is successful there is still no guarantee of entry into the school, but your position on the waiting list might be changed.

Contact your primary school or email education.startingsecondaryschool@sa.gov.au for more information.

Finalise enrolment

You should accept the offer by the date indicated by the preschool or school, to make sure your offer does not lapse and go to another applicant.

When you accept the offer you will be asked to complete an enrolment form. You will also need to show the preschool or school some documents to confirm the enrolment.

Accepting the offer does not stop you from being considered in later offers from other schools or preschools (eg round 2 offers).

Changing preschools or schools

You can apply to transfer your child to another preschool or school at any time during the year. Transfers can be considered if:

  • the student is eligible for a place at their local school or preschool, for transfers from interstate, overseas or a non-government school. Enrolment for overseas students depends on certain conditions, which might include payment of student fees.
  • the school or preschool has enough resources and places available to take non-local students.

If a late transfer is accepted after the start of the school year, there may be limited subject choices for the student. Transfers between South Australian public schools may be negotiated between the schools (eg for the start of the next term). Until the transfer is approved, the student must keep going to their current public preschool or school.

Contact the preschool or school directly for more information.


General enquiries

Phone: 8226 1000
Free call: 1800 088 158
Email: education.customers [at] sa.gov.au