The three main education providers are the State Government (67%), Catholic Education (18%) and the Independent schools sector (15%). Government schools are often called State Schools or Public Schools. Non-government schools are usually called Private schools.
Most Private schools have a religious affiliation, but some are non-denominational. All NSW State schools are non-denominational.
Most NSW Government Schools are co-educational, however there are some single sex Government schools at the Secondary level. In the Private sector there are co-educational, as well as single-sex schools, at both Primary and Secondary level.
Children in NSW have 13 years of schooling: One year in Kindergarten; six years in Primary school and six years in Secondary school. Many schools also have pre-kinder classes, also known as 'K minus one year' classes. Not many Government schools are combined Primary and Secondary schools, but some Catholic schools, and many Private schools, are combined Primary and Secondary schools.
Children must turn five by July 31 in the year they start Kindergarten. All children in NSW must start school by their sixth birthday.
The minimum school leaving age is 15.
There is an emphasis on seven key learning areas in Primary school: English; mathematics; science and technology; human society and its environment; languages; creative arts; and personal development, health and physical education.
Core subjects in Years 7-10 in NSW are: English; mathematics; science; human society and its environment; personal development, health and physical education; creative arts; technology and applied studies; a language other than English. Students are awarded The School Certificate at the end of Year 10.
Students in Year 11 and 12 study for the Higher School Certificate (HSC) or Vocational Education Training (VET). HSC results are based on state-wide examinations and school-based performance and the HSC is generally a pre-requisite for study at University. VET courses include hand-on, practical experience. Students can study VET courses through TAFE NSW or at schools that offer the courses, as part of their HSC. Some VET courses can also help gain a place at a university, as well as getting an industry qualification at the same time.
Language subjects are called Languages Other Than English (LOTE). Studying one or more languages is part of the school curriculum. Year 7-12 students can study a language they speak at home, if a course in that language is not offered at their own school at the Saturday School of Community Languages, which has several locations.
There are several NSW schools dedicated to a particular area of learning, such as sport, music, performing arts or agriculture. Many other schools also provide facilities and courses that cater to students talented in a particular area.
Many Independent and Catholic schools offer scholarships to students for academic excellence. Some also offer scholarships to students who display excellence in other areas.
There are 17 fully selective and 12 partially selective high schools for students of a high academic standard in NSW. There are also 4 Agricultural high schools offering selective placements.
There are Special Needs Schools for children with disabilities in both the Government and Private sector in New South Wales. Some mainstream schools have programmes for Special Needs students on their campuses.
All schools in NSW with an alternative philosophical approach to education, such as Steiner or Montessori, are Private schools.
The NSW government provides education for students in remote areas or those unable to attend school.
There is a wide variety of Boarding schools in the Private school sector at Primary and Secondary level in New South Wales. Three Government Agricultural Secondary colleges offer Boarding facilities too.
International students can study in many types of schools in New South Wales.
Nearly all students continue their education to The School Certificate standard at Year 10. Most students study until Year 12 and attain the Higher School Certificate. Further studies can be continued at Universities or TAFE (Technical and Further Education).
Most schools expect students to wear uniforms. Uniforms are usually unique to the school.
There are four school terms in NSW schools, with the main holidays over summer Christmas period. All Government schools follow an annually determined set of term dates. Private school term dates can vary a little a little from these and from each other.