School system


​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The Queensland school system begins in Prep for children who are 4 to 5 years old and ends in Year 12 when students are 17 to 18 years old.

Students complete 7 years of primary school (Prep to Year 6) and 6 years of high school (Years 7 to 12).

When students finish Year 12, they have many options to continue with their study. They could do Technical and Further Education (TAFE) courses, or go to a private college or university. Queensland has many world-famous universities.​


​When Queensland students finish Year 12, they get an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR). An ATAR is a ranking and not a score. If a student gets an ATAR of 80, they do not have an average of 80% for their subjects, but are 20% from the top of their age group.

The main purpose of the ATAR is to determine who gets offered a place in a university course.​

How is the ATAR cal​​culated?

The ATAR is calculated based on students’ results from their subjects. It may be from their 5 best ‘general’ subjects, or from their best results in a combination of 4 ‘general’ subjects and either 1 applied subject result or a completed VET qualification Certificate III level or above.

To get an ATAR, students must complete a Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority (QCAA) English subject. While students must pass the subject to get an ATAR, the result does not need to be used to calculate the ATAR.

You can find out more about ATARs at QCAA​.

Queensland Certific​ate of Education

All eligible students who finish Year 12 will be awarded a Queensland Certificate of Education (QCE)​. A QCE does not give you an ATAR.

Find out more about the Queensland Certificate of Education (PDF, 629KB). ​

Queensland academic year

The Queensland academic year has 2 semesters, with 2 terms in each semest​​er.

​Semester 1

​Term 1 (January to March)

Term 2 (April to June)​

​Semester 2

​​Term 3 (July to September)

Term 4 (October to December)

The 4 school terms combined is approximately 40 teaching weeks in duration, with holidays at the end of each term.

Schools generally operate from 9am to 3pm Monday to Friday, however, there are some schools with their own flexible school hours.

Students must attend school, except in some special circumstances, such as if they are sick. Schools keep records of student attendance, and these records are given to us.

Find out current information about school term dates and public holidays​.

Virtual high school day video

Our virtual high school experience shows you what it’s really like to study in a Queensland Government school.

This 360-degree virtual reality (VR) video is best viewed using VR goggles, but if you don't have VR goggles, you can also watch the video on your desktop, tablet or mobile phone.

  • On your computer, click the arrows in the top left of the video with your mouse or drag the video to look around. ​
  • On a tablet or mobile device, use your finger to pan and look around or directly point the device to where you want to look.​​

The Queensland assessment system

The Queensland assessment system measures student performance throughout the year, giving students an opportunity to continuously improve their results. Students must submit several school-based assessment tasks, including:

  • assignments
  • oral presentations
  • practical exercises and demonstrations
  • tests and examinations
  • various subject-specific tasks.

Student reports

Students receive a school report at the end of each term. Student progress is measured by 5 levels of achievement:

  • Very high achievement (VHA)
  • High achievement (HA)
  • Sound achievement (SA)
  • Limited achievement (LA)
  • Very limited achievement (VLA).

Find out more information about the Queensland school curriculum, assessment and reporting framework.

School orientation

In the first weeks of school, international students can take part in school orientation to get to know their Australian surroundings and their new responsibilities.

Orientation covers things like:

  • Meeting the teachers
  • Getting a tour of the school
  • Student visa rules
  • School policies and guidelines
  • Organising the school uniform, textbooks, enrolment and timetable
  • Information about subjects
  • Health and safety tips
  • Homestay tips.
Last updated 01 February 2023