Age to leave school

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When Can I leave School?

In Queensland, you have to go to school from when you turn 6 until you turn 16 or you finish Year 10, whichever comes first.  

After that, although you don’t have to go to school, the law says that you must be “learning or earning” – that is, you must either stay in school or participate in another form of education, training or work for at least 25 hours a week. This “learning or earning” phase continues until:

  • two years have passed since you finish Year 10;  or
  • you turn 17; or
  • you have gained a certificate of achievement, senior statement, Certificate III or Certificate IV.

This might mean you:

  • go to college or a high school and complete your schooling;
  • enrol at TAFE;
  • undertake an apprenticeship or traineeship (you can use these subjects towards your QCE); or
  • do a training course at university or through a private provider; or
  • work full time (for at least 25 hours a week).

To find out more about school-based apprenticeships, visit

What happens if I don’t go to school or do my agreed education/training?

If you don’t go to school or take part in your agreed form of education or training, your parents can be fined and even taken to court. There are a few exceptions to this, like if you are home-schooled or you or your parents apply for and get special permission.  Special permission might be given if you can’t take part in any of the options, or if it would not be reasonable to make you take part.  

For more information

You can find more information about the different options available to you after you finish Year 10 at the following websites:

The Queensland government has information on “Apprenticeships and traineeships”, as well as “Jobs and employment” at –

The Department of Education, Training and Employment also has general information about “Apprenticeships and Traineeships” at –

Unhappy at school?

If you’re not happy at school, it’s a good idea to talk to someone about what’s going on. You may want to talk to your school counsellor or career counsellor.

Also check out this factsheet from Reach Out:

If you have any more questions about leaving school, you can get help here.

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