Victoria government logo

Starting primary school in Victoria

Learn about finding a school, enrolling and preparing your child to start primary school in Victoria.

The law in Victoria states that children must attend school from the age of 6. To enrol in government school, a child must turn 5 before 30 April of the year they start school.

There can be exemptions to the age policy, but these are very rare. For more information on school admission and the law, see the Department of Education's School Policy and Advisory GuideExternal Link .

1. Choose your school

  • In Victoria, there are 2 main types of schools:

    • Government (or ‘public’) schools, administered by the Department of Education
    • Non-government (or ‘Independent’) schools, which includes private schools and religious schools

    Understanding the different types of schools can help you decide which school is right for you and your child. For children with disability or additional needs, this may be a mainstream government school or a specialist government school. For more information, visit Starting school for children with disability.

    To learn more about Catholic schools, visit Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic SchoolsExternal Link . For more information about independent schools, visit Independent Schools VictoriaExternal Link .

    For information about home schooling, visit home schooling.

    The following information covers government primary school enrolment. If you wish for your child to attend a non-government primary school, please contact individual non-government schools for their enrolment processes.

  • Your child has a right to enrol at their local school. This right is set out in the Education and Training Reform Act 2006. Your child must be offered a place at your local school if they live within the school zone.

    For more information, visit school zones.

    You also have the choice to seek enrolment at a school that is not your local school. All students who seek enrolment in a school outside of their zone should be enrolled if there is sufficient accommodation at the school.

  • You can find your local school and other government schools in your area at Find My SchoolExternal Link .

    The Find my School website is the official and most up to date source of school zone maps in Victoria. All government primary, secondary and specialist schools are on Find my School.

    For more information, visit school zones.

  • Contact your local school and any other schools you are considering before you submit an application.

    Schools welcome enquiries and will organise a time for you and your child to visit. Staff can provide tours, classroom visits and further information about their school.

    Schools can also indicate if they have spare places for students who do not live within the school zone.

2. Enrol your child

  • There is a timeline for Foundation (Prep) enrolments in Victorian government schools. The timeline advises when and how to enrol your child in their first year of primary school. For more information, read about the statewide timeline for enrolling in Foundation (Prep).

    A school may ask that you complete either an application form or an enrolment form.

    An application form requests the information a school needs to prioritise enrolments according to available space. You may be asked to provide proof of address as part of your application.

    If a school offers you a place, you will be asked to complete the enrolment form. It is recommended that you only complete an enrolment form for the school your child will attend.

    If you are a parent or carer of a child with disability, you may need to discuss reasonable adjustments with your school.

  • You will be required to provide the following information and documentation:

  • Many schools offer before and after school care. It is recommended that you organise this in advance of starting school.

    The Child Care SubsidyExternal Link may be used to help pay for before and after school care for children under 13.

    Some schools do not offer before and after school care, or they may not have spaces available. Other options can include things like Family Day Care. If you need help to find child care, you can use the government’s Child Care FinderExternal Link .

3. Pay costs

  • Government schools in Victoria do not have fees. You are not required to make payments or voluntary financial contributions to your school.

    For more information, see government school costs.

    Some types of international students must enrol in the International Student Program and pay fees. For more information, see the Victorian Government Schools International Student ProgramExternal Link .

  • The cost of uniforms varies from school to school, and there are many ways to get these. Popular ways include:

    • Getting them from school - often, your school will have a uniform shop where uniform items can be bought.
    • Buying them from shops - many schools have school colours and items such as shorts and polo shirts can be purchased at major clothing retailers.
    • Getting them second-hand - some parents find it useful to join local community groups online and source second-hand items, or contact second-hand clothing shops to see if they have any items.
  • Your school should provide a list of the items your child will need for the first day of school.

    These can also be sourced from school or, using a list provided by school, purchased at major retailers.

  • If your child will be using public transport to get to and from school, there are concession Myki cards available. Find information about school students using public transportExternal Link on the Public Transport Victoria website.

    You can also access travel support if:

    • you're in regional or rural Victoria
    • your child has a disability or additional needs.
  • If you are having trouble paying school costs, assistance may be available. Visit help with school costs and fees for options and advice.

    Options include:

4. Plan and prepare

  • Starting school is a big change for a child. Helping your child to understand what is happening can reduce stress and fear on their part. Many children will be excited to start school and making sure they know what will happen on the first day is important. Be positive and enthusiastic – your child is more likely to look forward to starting school if you’re positive about it.

    Preparation for your child can include:

    • transition plans from your kinder or childcare
    • attending school orientation sessions for new students and for parents and carers
    • attending school community events like fetes and concerts
    • taking your child with you to get their uniform and school supplies
    • practising the journey to and from school, including where you will meet your child:
    • connecting with ‘buddies’ or other children from your child’s childcare, kinder or play groups who will be starting school at the same time.

    The Better Health Channel’s Healthy start to school guideExternal Link offers a lot of great tips.

  • When your child starts school, it can be a sensitive time for you, too. Talking to friends and family can help but, if you need extra support, there is assistance available.

    Government support services include:

5. Start school

  • The first day of school is an exciting one for parents and children. Making sure you have practiced and prepared will ensure your child feels as comfortable as they can.

    Be prepared for some sadness and separation anxiety – although this does not affect every child. If this is an issue for your child, the Better Health Channel offers information on managing anxiety and fear in childrenExternal Link .

  • The first week is often made up of shorter days or weeks. Talk to your school in advance about what this looks like and prepare accordingly.

    It is likely that you will not be able to drop your child off at before school care and pick them up from after school care in the first week, so you may need to plan for this.

6. Attend school

  • The first term of school can have some challenges. Sometimes children can get very tired as they adjust to their new routine. If possible, minimising after school activities at the beginning of term can help children to avoid becoming overtired and emotional.

    Sometimes children who have not been around large groups of people before can get sick a lot. The Better Health Channel has information on common childhood illnesses including:

    The Victorian government's Smile SquadExternal Link offers free dental for all Victorian public school students.

    If your child needs glasses, Glasses for Kids may be able to help. The initiative provides prep to Year 3 children in Victoria's most disadvantaged areas with vision screening and, if required, follow up eye testing and glasses.

  • If you feel your child is not learning at the right level, your first step should be to talk to their teacher. You may also wish to discuss things with your family doctor.

    For children with disability or additional needs, support is also available.

    You can make sure you are up to date about your child’s learning through:

  • Occasionally, children will have issues with things like settling in, making friends and getting used to school life.

    Stay in touch with your school’s teachers and principal if you are concerned about how your child is settling into school.

    If you are worried your child is being bullied, help is available. Get more information from:

    The Victorian Government takes a firm stance against bullying. Your first point of contact for complaints should always be the school but if you feel you are not being supported, you are free to make a complaint to the Department of Education.

  • It’s important to know the dates of the school holidays so you can prepare. Child Care SubsidyExternal Link may be used to help pay for school holiday programs.

    Your school should also provide a list of Teacher Only days or other days when they are not open. Make sure to note these in your diary and organise alternative child care if required.

Reviewed 31 March 2023


Was this page helpful?