Schooling is compulsory in Queensland for children from 6 years and 6 months until they turn 16, or they complete Year 10 (whichever comes first).
If you want your children to be exempt from compulsory schooling you may need legal advice.
Parenting and making decisions about schooling for young people
The law considers you to be a parent if you are:
- the child's mother or father, or
- a person who exercises parental responsibility for the child, or
- a person recognised as a parent under Aboriginal tradition or Torres Strait Islander custom, or
- a person who has guardianship under child protection law or a court order.
Compulsory schooling and compulsory participation phase
Schooling is compulsory for children from 6 years and 6 months until they turn 16, or they complete Year 10 (whichever comes first).
The Queensland Government website has comprehensive information about enrolment requirements for Queensland schools.
The compulsory participation phase starts when a young person stops being of a compulsory school age (ie they turn 16 or complete Year 10—whichever comes first). It ends when:
- they gain a Queensland Certificate of Education (QCE), Queensland Certificate of Individual Achievement (QCIA), Senior Statement, Certificate III or Certificate IV
- have participated in eligible options for two years after the person stopped being of compulsory school age or
- they turn 17.
During this phase, young people don’t have to go to school, but they do have to be ‘learning or earning’. Visit the Department of Education’s Spark their Future website for more information.
The Department of Education has information about exemptions from compulsory schooling and compulsory participation.
Suspensions or exclusions from school
If your child is to be excluded from a state school you will be notified and given an opportunity to discuss or appeal the decision. You should speak with the principal or Education Queensland or get legal advice.
If your child goes to a private school, the school sets its own rules. You should contact the school principal or the organisation that controls the school (the schools governing body, eg Catholic Education).
Discrimination and schools
Discrimination happens when a person is treated unfairly because of a legally protected attribute (eg characteristics such as their race, sex, sexuality, disability) in certain areas of public life, like work, school and applying for a rental property.
Schools are bound by most aspects of anti-discrimination law. If you think your children have experienced discrimination at school you should get legal advice.
Visiting children on school grounds
There are rules about when you can visit children on school grounds. In most schools the principal has control of the school grounds and may exclude people (including parents) from school grounds if necessary.
A school may prohibit a person for 60 days from entering a school if they pose a risk to other people or property of the school, are causing fear in others, or disrupting the good order and management of the school.
The school may apply to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) for an order prohibiting a person from entering the school for longer than 60 days up to a year.
Where there is a dispute between you and the other parent of a child, the school will usually want to see a court order before they will make any special arrangements for the child. You should get legal advice. See parenting arrangements.
Do I need legal advice?
You may need legal advice if you:
- are a student who has been excluded from school or other government services
- are a parent wishing to appeal a decision to exclude your child from a state school (after discussing with the principal and Department of Education and Training)
- have a complaint about a school that has not been resolved by the teacher, principal, Department of Education and Training (state schools) or the governing body responsible (private schools)
- believe you or your child have been discriminated against at school
- have been prohibited by the school from seeing your child at school, or you want the school to prohibit another person (eg the other parent in a family law dispute).
How to get legal advice
We may give advice to young people who have been excluded, suspended or bullied at school.
Our Anti-Discrimination Unit may give specialist legal advice about anti-discrimination claims at school.
The following organisations may be able to give you legal advice.
Youth Advocacy Centre gives free specialist legal advice and help for young people who have been suspended or excluded from school.
YFS Legal gives legal information and advice to young people aged under 25.
LawRight Self Representation Service (QCAT) gives legal advice and helps people at the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) for matters including some education matters. They also give advice about other options to help resolve your dispute. LawRight may also help with drafting documents and correspondence relating to your legal matter with QCAT. They don’t provide representation.
Queensland Law Society can refer you to a specialist private solicitor for advice or representation.
Who else can help?
These organisations may also be able to help. They don’t give legal advice.
Department of Education and Training is responsible for education and training in Queensland.
Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) can make decisions about prohibiting a person from entering state or private schools or other types of education centres.
Disclaimer: This content is for general purposes only and not legal advice. If you have a legal problem, please contact us or speak to a lawyer. View our full disclaimer.
Last updated 18 April 2023
If you have a general question for Legal Aid Queensland, please use the general question form or call 1300 65 11 88, Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 4.30pm.