School Attendance and the Law (NSW)

School Attendance and the Law (NSW)

Children in New South Wales are required to attend school from the age of six to seventeen, or until they have finished Year 10 (whichever comes first). Since 2010, this has been the situation. Before 2010, attendance at school was required only up until the age of fifteen.

The premier of New South Wales announced that raising the school leaving age was a “ground-breaking shift” in educational policy that would increase young people’s employment and earning potential. The school leaving age has recently been raised to 17 in several states and territories due to mounting evidence that a person’s educational attainment has a significant impact on their possibilities in life.


Does this mean you have to finish school?

Under the Education Act of 1990, Section 21B, after completing Year 10, an individual under the age of seventeen has various possibilities. They are able to proceed through Year 11. They may participate in a traineeship or apprenticeship. They have the option of attending TAFE or a university. Alternatively, they may drop out of school to work for pay as long as they are putting in at least twenty-five hours a week.



The principal of the school may allow a student who has finished Year 9 but not Year 10 to participate in an apprenticeship or traineeship in lieu of attending class. The student must go back to school if the traineeship or apprenticeship is later canceled.

If the education minister is convinced that certain circumstances call for or favor granting a kid’s exemption from attending school, then the youngster may receive the exemption. It is possible to grant an exemption with restrictions and for a limited period of time.

A parent of a student enrolled in a public school has the right to formally notify the school of their conscientious objection to the student being taught a specific portion of a topic due to their religious beliefs. If the Department is convinced that the notification is founded on sincere religious convictions, it may accept it.


Orders for Mandatory Schooling

The Children’s Court may issue a Compulsory Schooling Order in respect to a child who is of compulsory school attendance age under Section 22D of the Education Act.

A compulsory schooling order might mandate that the child attend compulsory schooling or that the parent make every effort to ensure the youngster attends school. The latter happens when a child reaches the age of 12 and either lives on their own or their parents are unable to make sure the child attends school.

On request, the Director-General of the Department of Education issues a Compulsory Schooling Order. Such an application may elicit responses from kids and parents.


Offense of not attending school

If a parent of a child of obligatory school age does not register their child for homeschooling or enroll them in school, they are guilty of a criminal offense under Section 23. Maximum fines for this offense are 25 penalty units for first-time offenders, 50 penalty units for second-time offenders, and 100 penalty units for parents under mandatory schooling orders.

Please get in touch with Dot Legal Lawyers if you need legal counsel or assistance with anything related to education or other legal matters.

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