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Starting school

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Learn how to apply to and enrol in government schools on this page.

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

When to start primary school or reception

Children must be enrolled at school by the age of 6. This is the compulsory starting age for children in South Australia.

Most children start school from the age of 5. There are specific cut off dates for when 5-year-olds can start school.

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

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

You might be able to enrol your child earlier than age 5 or later than age 6 if it will benefit their education. If you think this applies to your child, talk to the principal about meeting the specific criteria.

Mid-year intake from 2024

From 2024 there will be a mid-year intake into primary school.

From 2024, if your child turns 5 years between 1 May and 31 October, they can start school in either:

  • term 3 of the same year
  • or term 1 the following year.

Students enrolled through a mid-year intake will complete 6 terms of reception.

We will release more information about the mid-year intake during 2023.

If your child is eligible for the mid-year intake in 2024, you might be interested in the preschool mid-year intake which starts in 2023. See starting preschool.

Find out when your child can start school

Enter your child's birth month and year in the tool below to find out when they can start school.

Finding a school

Use the online tool to find your local school.

You can apply to enrol your child in a school that's not your local school, but offers will depend on available places. Visit school placements for information about how places are decided.

Applying to start school for the next year

Submit application

To start primary school

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

You can get an application form directly from the primary school you're interested in.

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

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

To start secondary school

Every year there is a state-wide transition process for students attending public secondary schools. This transition process for families starts in term 2.

For more information see register to start secondary school.

Students at government schools

Year 6 students at public primary schools will get application information from their school.

There is an online registration of interest form for public school families. You should receive a unique URL for your child via email or letter from your primary school around the beginning of term 2.

Students at non-government schools

Year 6 students at non-government schools who want to apply for a public secondary school can get application information from their local public secondary school, local education office, or by education.startingsecondaryschool@sa.gov.au.

Applying to a public secondary school

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

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

Applying to special interest programs in secondary school

Some secondary schools also offer students a particular focus program on a specific interest, and may have a selective entry process for year 6 students to apply for that program. This process is undertaken by the school within the context of sustainable management of capacity, with support from the department. Contact the secondary school directly about its programs and application dates.

Wait for an enrolment offer

Primary school offers

When you apply, the 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.

Secondary 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 secondary school offer in term 3. Non-local students who miss out will be placed on a waiting list for the school if there is one.

If your allocated secondary 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 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 school some documents to confirm the enrolment.

Accepting the offer does not stop you from being considered in later offers from other schools (for example, round 2 offers).

Changing schools

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

  • the student is eligible for a place at their local school, 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. To find out more, go to visa subclass types.
  • the school 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 (for example, for the start of the next term). Until the transfer is approved, the student must continue to attend their current public preschool or school.

Contact the school directly for more information.

General enquiries

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