All you need to know on schools in NSW


Enrolling your children in schools can be a daunting process, whether you are overseas, interstate or residing locally. Below you will find some general school information and useful links to help you navigate the complexities of finding the right school for your child.


In NSW, there are three different types of schools:


  • Government (public)
  • Catholic System (private)
  • Independent (private)


Government schools account for approximately 66% of total student enrolments in NSW and are owned and operated by the NSW Government. The Catholic sector comprises 11 separate diocesan school systems and enrolls approximately 18% of students in NSW. The independent sector accounts for slightly more than 15% of student enrolments.


NSW has the youngest minimum school starting age of any state or territory in Australia at 4.5 years. Other states and territories have older minimum starting ages. A recent report by the Australian Review of Public Affairs shows that in NSW 32% of children are held back from kindergarten, the highest holding back rate in the country. Depending where you are attending school in NSW, this holding back rate can be significantly higher. For example, schools on the lower north shore have a higher percentage of children who are held back before starting kindergarten.


My School is a government website and is an excellent resource for researching and comparing Australian schools. It allows you to search 10,000 Australian schools, both public and private, and gauge a school’s performance on a number of different factors such as staffing, resources and academic performance.


Sydney Public School Catchment Zone Map






How old must my child be when they go to primary school in NSW?

Your child must be 5 by July 31 in the year they enroll in Kindergarten.


Does this mean that I must send my child to school when they are 4.5 years, if for example they have a June birthday?

No, you are allowed to hold your child back for a year. However, by law, all children must be enrolled in school by their sixth birthday.


What are other parents doing with children whose birthdays fall after January?

As discussed above, 32% of parents overall in NSW hold their children back, however this figure can be significantly higher in certain areas. The decision obviously depends upon the child, their date of birth and also where you are sending them to school. It would be helpful to talk to the school you are enrolling in and find out the ages of other children in the class and talk to other local parents.


Useful links for school information



NSW Public Schools (government schools) Resource and Directory:

Association of Independent Schools (non-government private schools) Directory:

Private School Directory:

Catholic Schools in NSW & ACT:

Jewish Schools Australia:

Steiner Schools in Australia:

Montessori Australia:

NSW Public Schools with Special Needs Programs:





NSW government subsidized preschools:

List of preschools by location: