When to start primary school or reception

The first year of primary school is known as reception.

When your child is eligible to begin school will depend on their date of birth, and whether you’re applying to government or non-government school.

Most children start school in the year they turn 5 years of age.

Children must be enrolled at school by the age of 6. This is the compulsory starting age for children in South Australia.

Government primary schools have 2 major enrolment intakes from 2024, one for children at the beginning of the year (intake 1) and one for children to start school in term 3 (intake 2).

If your child turns 5 years old:

  • before 1 May they can start reception in term 1 of that year.
  • between 1 May and 31 October, they can start reception in term 3 (mid-year).
  • after 31 October they can start reception in the following year.

Children who start reception at the beginning of the year will generally complete 4 terms of reception, while children who start reception through the mid-year intake will complete 6 terms of reception.

If you are considering enrolling your child to start school mid-year (ie term 3), you might be interested in the preschool mid-year the year prior, so they can do 4 terms before starting school. See starting preschool.

See the school and preschool enrolment policy (PDF 285 KB) for further detail.