Age to leave school

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Leaving school before you finish Year 12 is a big decision to make. It is important to speak to your family, friends and school before you decide to leave. It is also a good idea to have a plan for what you will do after you leave school. There are many pathways you can take, but staying engaged in education and training will give you greater opportunities in the future.

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When can I leave school?

In Tasmania, you have to go to school or do another approved education or training course until you complete year 12, turn 18, or obtain a Certificate III (whichever happens first). You can also be educated at home until you turn 18.

You have to stay at school until you finish Year 10. After Year 10, you can choose to participate in one of the following education and training options (or a combination):

  • studying at a school or college
  • studying and training at TasTAFE
  • doing an apprenticeship or traineeship (you can find out more about apprenticeships here)
  • completing a training course through a registered training organisation
  • being home-educated.

For more information on leaving school, you can visit the Department of Education website here. If you want to know more about your education and training options after you finish Year 10, you can have a look at this website.

Can I get an exemption from going to school?

It is possible to apply for an exemption from going to school or another learning program. A parent can apply for an exemption. A young person can also apply for an exemption if they are living independently from their parents.

An application for an exemption will only be made if the Minister thinks it is in the young person’s best interests. If you have finished Year 10, the Minister will grant an exemption if you are employed full-time.

A young person living independently, or a parent, can also apply to go to school or another learning program part-time. This application will only be granted if the Minister thinks it is in the young person’s best interests. To apply for an exemption, you will need to complete this form. You might also need some supporting documents, for example a letter from your employer. 

What happens if I don’t go to school and don’t have an exemption?

If you don’t go to school or another learning program, and you don’t have an exemption, your parents could be fined.

If you miss a lot of school without a good reason, for example if you don’t have a doctor’s certificate, the Department of Education might investigate why you haven’t been going to school.

If this happens, someone from the Department might go to your home or school, and speak to you and your parents about why you haven’t been going to school. They can also approach you and ask you your name, age and address, and the reason why you aren’t at school (or another learning program). They will probably try to work with you and your parents to find a way to get you to go to school more often.

If you miss a lot of school, the Department of Education might ask you and your parent or guardian to go to a conciliation conference. In some cases, the Department can make a Compulsory Schooling Order, which requires a school student to go to a school, and their parent to make sure they go to school. A failure to comply with an order is an offence. You can find out more about conferences and orders here.


Unhappy at school?

If you’re not happy at school, it’s a good idea to talk to someone about what’s going on. Your school counsellor or psychologist or career counsellor can help you decide whether you should leave school and what you can do instead. They can also help you get the support you need to stay in school.

If you don’t want to speak to a school counsellor, you can also speak to a teacher you trust, a family member or friend. If you would rather talk to someone you don’t know, you can contact your nearest Headspace centre, or chat to someone online at eHeadspace or Kids Helpline.

For more information

If you are thinking of leaving school, or wondering about what you can do after you leave, you can have a look at these online resources.

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

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