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Secondary Schools in Victoria

School is compulsory for all Victorian children aged between six and 17. Primary school is from Grade ‘Prep’ (preparatory year) to Grade six. Year seven to Year 12 is secondary school.

Victorian children usually begin secondary (high) school at 12 years of age. It is a legal requirement that students attend school until they complete Year 10. After Year 10 and up to age  17 they must continue in approved education or be in full-time employment.

Types of schools

There are two major types of school in Victoria for both primary level and secondary school. Melbourne and regional Victoria offer both types of secondary schools:

  • public schools (also known as state schools or government schools)
  • private schools (private non-denominational or religious association).

Government schools are usually co-educational, while some private schools offer single-sex education.

In Victoria as at March 2015, there are:

  • 1528 Government schools
  • 493 Catholic schools
  • 207 independent schools (private non-denominational or religious association).

It is legal to home-school children in Victoria but you must register with the Victorian Registrations and Qualification Authority

Years 11 and 12

In the final two years, students complete the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) or the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL) to graduate from secondary school.

  • The VCE covers a wide range of studies and is assessed by both external exams and school-based assessments. VCE results are used as selection criteria for entry to universities and colleges for further education.
  • The VCAL and the Vocational Education and Training in Schools program (VETiS) are other options for Years 11 and 12 students, offering practical work-related experience and learning. Like the VCE, VCAL and VETiS are accredited for secondary certification and can lead to further education and training.

The International Baccalaureate (IB) is also available for students who want to be eligible for admission to universities in 110 countries worldwide. Around 20 schools in Victoria offer IB.

Course of study

Throughout secondary school students follow a program of core subjects including English, Maths and Science. In the middle to senior years of secondary school, students can also choose from about 50 elective subjects. Electives vary among schools. Religious education is also offered at religious schools.

Languages other than English

Students who have recently arrived in Australia may be eligible for classes in English as a Second Language (ESL).

The majority of schools in Victoria teach one or more languages other than English. Also, some schools offer dedicated bilingual programs where students are taught some regular classes in a foreign language.


Parents of Grade six students complete enrolment forms for the secondary school of their choice early in the year.

For more information on secondary school enrolment, visit the Department of Education and Training website.


Students attend school Monday to Friday - usually from 9.00am to 3.00pm.


All Victorian schools, whether public or private, receive government funding. Public secondary schools are free to attend. However, you are usually asked to pay a voluntary school levy per student per year. You will also need to pay for uniforms, some books and extra-curricular subjects.

Fees for private schooling vary widely. Check fees and other costs with individual education providers.

Duration and holidays

The school year runs on the calendar year, beginning in late January and ending in December for the summer holidays. Students attend school for about 40 weeks per year, divided into four school terms. Holidays between each term typically last for two weeks, while the summer holiday break is significantly longer at six weeks.

How to find a secondary school

If your child is in Grade six you will be asked to complete enrolment forms for the secondary school of your choice early in the year. This choice may be a neighbouring state school or a preferred private school. You can attend school tours and information sessions to help you select a school for your child.

For more information about enrolling in a secondary school and to find schools in a particular area, visit the Department of Education and Training website. 

The My School website enables you to search the profiles of almost 10,000 Australian schools. Information on the site has been provided by individual schools and education authorities.

Further information

For information about non-government schools see: