School leaving age

Since January 2010, NSW students must complete Year 10. Students then have a number of options in which to participate until at least age 17.


Since 2010, all NSW students must complete Year 10.

After Year 10 and until the age of 17, students must be:

  • in school, or registered for home schooling OR
  • in approved education or training OR
  • in full-time, paid employment (average 25 hours/week) OR
  • in a combination of these three.

From 1943 until 2009 it has been compulsory for NSW students to attend school until the age of 15.

In line with other states, NSW has now passed legislation to change the years of compulsory schooling.

There is a great deal of Australian and international evidence which demonstrates a high correlation between students’ level of education and their prospects in life.

The research shows that early school leavers are two and a half times more likely to be unemployed, earn lower wages and have poorer quality of life outcomes.

The purpose of the new legislation, therefore, is to ensure that all young people have the best possible chances in life.

After year 10

Under the new arrangements, once a student has completed Year 10 there are a number of options from which to choose. They can:
  • stay at school and continue into Year 11
  • choose to do an apprenticeship or a traineeship
  • study vocational courses at TAFE
  • do a course in higher education
  • do other approved education or training
  • be in employment, as long as it is full-time, paid work
  • do a combination of a number of these.

If a student is in Year 10 or below they need to start thinking about the best pathway for them.

Students should discuss their options with their parents, principal, careers adviser, year adviser or teachers.


  • Student management and wellbeing


  • Back to school
  • Career advice
  • Further study
  • Pathways to work
  • Transition through stages
  • Work at school

Business Unit:

  • Communication and Engagement
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