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Starting secondary school in Victoria

Learn about finding a school, enrolling in prep and paying costs when your child starts secondary school in Victoria.

Moving from primary to secondary school is an important step in a child’s education. In Victoria, students normally start secondary school in Year 7.

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 is for students that are seeking placement at a government secondary school. If you wish for your child to attend a non-government secondary school, please contact individual non-government secondary 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.

  • It is important to go to school open days and tours at secondary schools to help you and your child with the move from primary to secondary school.

    Visit school websites or contact schools directly to find out more about open days and booking tours.

2. Placement preferences

  • Your school preferences are submitted and considered as part of the Year 6 to 7 placement process. Year 6 to 7 placement is the statewide process that supports students to select and enrol to a government secondary school.

    There is a timeline you need to follow for the Year 6 to 7 placement process. The timeline can be found in the Placement Information Packs, along with an application form and frequently asked questions. The Placement Information Packs are released at the start of Term 2 and can be found at moving from primary to secondary schoolExternal Link .

    You may have to follow a different placement process depending on your child's school type.

    • Government primary school - If your child is enrolled at a government primary school and is applying for placement at a government secondary school, your child’s school will coordinate this process from the start of Term 2.
    • Non-government primary school - If your child is enrolled at a non-government primary school and is applying for placement at a government secondary school, your child’s school may not coordinate this process. In this instance, please contact your preferred secondary school/s to seek enrolment.

    All students will receive notification of their Year 7 placement offer on the same day in July each year.

    Reach out to the Year 6 Coordinator, Transition Coordinator or Principal of your child’s primary school if you have any questions.

    If you need an interpreter to help fill out the application form, school staff can help organise this for you.

3. Enrol your child

  • If your child is currently enrolled in a government primary school, your child’s details will be confirmed before documentation is transferred to your accepted secondary school.

    If your child is enrolled in a non-government primary school, this is considered a new enrolment and requires additional documentation to be provided to the secondary school.

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

4. 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 feesExternal Link for options and advice.

    Options include:

5. Plan and prepare

  • One of the big changes for new Year 7 students is learning how to manage themselves and become more organised and responsible, including:

    • reading a timetable and using a diary or other organisational tool
    • storing learning equipment and materials in individual lockers
    • moving to classes in different rooms on time
    • taking the right equipment to each class
    • learning across more subject areas with more teachers
    • submitting learning tasks on time for multiple subjects and with varying timelines, including homework
    • not having a dedicated 'home' classroom – although many schools have a designated area for Year 7 students.

    Secondary schools often work with primary schools to make the move easier. Transition programs can include:

    • secondary teachers visiting local primary schools to meet students and answer any questions
    • Year 6 classes visiting secondary schools
    • skill-building activities in class to help students prepare to move to secondary school
    • secondary school information sessions for new students and their families
    • buddy systems at secondary schools (an older student helps a younger student)
    • orientation days, which usually happen in early December.

    There are many things you can do at home to help your child prepareExternal Link :

    • Be positive and enthusiastic – your child is more likely to look forward to starting secondary school if you’re positive about it.
    • Attend secondary school information sessions for new families – this will help you learn more about the school, learning programs and how you can support your child’s learning at home.
    • Organise the school uniform
    • Get books, stationery and equipment (the school will give you a list).
    • Learn about school routines – school start and finish times, as well as recess and lunchtime.
    • Learn about travel to school:
      • Make a plan around the public transport timetable
      • Have a backup plan in case they miss public transport.
      • If you plan to drive your child to school, check for parking.
    • Talk to your child about their timetable – this will list subjects and classroom numbers.
    • Make a few copies of the timetable to keep in different places.
    • Create a comfortable place for your child to study.
    • Remind your child that is normal to feel nervous about starting secondary school - these nerves may last past the first day.
    • Encourage your child to talk about what they might be nervous about.
    • Have an emergency plan – be clear about who your child should contact and what you expect them to do in an emergency.

6. Attend school

  • In their first year of secondary school your child experiences a lot of change, including transitioning from childhood to adolescence. It is important to communicate with them about how they are feeling.

    • Find out about what your child is learning at school – by doing this, you can support your child’s learning and find out how your child is adjusting to school.
    • If your child is having difficulty at school, talk to their teacher – your child can also say what they think might help them.
    • Keep talking to your child about school – ask them about their new experiences, what they like and what they find hard. Persist, even if they might not be very responsive.

    Your child may feel overwhelmed during this time. If your child is struggling with the transition to secondary school, there are supports to help them maintain their health and wellbeing.

    Better Health have information on a range of teenage health issuesExternal Link , including healthy communicationExternal Link and confidential counsellingExternal Link .

    All Victorian government secondary school students can access free counselling through headspace centres and telephone and online supportExternal Link , or through their school’s Mental Health Practitioner.

    Victorian schools also provide support services, including:

    • nurses
    • welfare coordinators
    • mental health workers.

    For more information read Health and wellbeing staff in schools.

  • 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.

    Support is also available for children with disability or additional needs.

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

    • regular contact with your child’s teacher or year level coordinator
    • regularly checking any digital school communication channels
    • chatting with your child about their schoolwork, homework, and due dates and offering support
    • parent-teacher conferences and school reports.
  • Occasionally, children will have issues with things like settling in and making friends.

    If you are concerned about how your child is settling into school, talk with the teachers and principal.

    The Mental Health and Wellbeing Toolkit provides guidance to help strengthen your child’s mental health and wellbeing at home, and how to work with your school and seek help if you have concerns.

    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 should always be the school but, if you feel you are not being supported, you can provide feedback to the Department of Education.

Reviewed 09 February 2023


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