High school is a fundamental growth period for children. Melbourne’s high schools offer your children the opportunity to grow into intelligent, skilled and confident adults.
Your children can study a varied curriculum in Melbourne’s high schools. By combining a strong academic focus with important life and social skills, your children can be equipped for life and the world of work.
School is compulsory for all Victorian children aged between six and 17. Unlike other places, our high school system is not split into junior and senior high school. High school in Victoria (also known as secondary school) runs from Year 7 to Year 12.
Victorian children usually begin high school at around 12 years of age. In Victoria we value the role education plays in a child’s future, and so it is a legal requirement that Victorian students attend school until they complete Year 10. After Year 10 (and up to age 17) they must continue in approved education or be in full-time employment.
What will your children learn?
Students in Melbourne high schools follow a program of core subjects including English, Maths and Science. In the middle to senior years of high school, students can choose from over 90 subjects in nine key learning areas, including languages other than English. This provides the flexibility for your child to follow their individual study and career goals. Learning areas include:
- Languages (other than English)
- Business Studies
- The Arts
- Health and Physical Education.
A wide range of Vocational Education and Training (VET) subjects are also offered as part of the VCE. For a full list of individual subject choices available, visit the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority. Electives vary among schools. Religious education is also offered at religious schools.
Learning English and other languages
Students who have recently arrived in Australia may be eligible for classes in English as an Additional Language (EAL).
The majority of schools in Victoria teach one or more languages other than English. Also, some schools offer dedicated bilingual programs where students are taught some regular classes in a foreign language.
Years 11 and 12
In the final two years of high school in Melbourne students complete the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) or the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL) to graduate from high school. The final two years of the VCE are known as Year 11 and Year 12.
- The VCE covers a range of studies and is assessed by both external exams and school-based assessments.
- VCE results are used as selection criteria for entry to universities and colleges for further education.
- VCAL is another option for Year 11 and 12 students, offering practical work-related experience and learning. Like the VCE, VCAL is an accredited secondary certification and can lead to further education and training.
The International Baccalaureate (IB) is also available for students who want to be eligible for admission to universities in 110 countries worldwide. Around 20 schools in Victoria offer IB.
Melbourne high school fees
All Victorian schools, whether public or private, receive government funding.
Public high schools are free to attend. However, you are usually asked to pay a voluntary school levy per student per year. You will also need to pay for uniforms, some books and extra-curricular subjects and activities such as school camps and excursions.
Fees for private schooling vary widely. Check fees and other costs with individual education providers.
The school year and holidays
The school year runs on the calendar year, usually beginning in late January and ending in December for the summer holidays:
- students attend school for about 40 weeks per year, divided into four school terms
- holidays between each term typically last for two weeks
- the summer holiday break is significantly longer at five to six weeks.
Find out more about school term dates in Victoria.
Students attend school from Monday to Friday – usually from 9.00am to 3.00pm.
Enrolling your child in high school
If your child is in grade six you will be asked to complete enrolment forms for the high school of your choice early in the year. This choice may be a neighbouring state school or a preferred private school. You can attend school tours and information sessions to help you select a school for your child. You can also enrol your child in a preferred school earlier than grade six. Check enrolment waiting lists with schools that you are considering.
Find a high school to suit your children
Check out the links below to learn more about high schools in Melbourne:
- Department of Education and Training – for information about enrolling in a high school and to find schools in a particular area.
- My School – search the profiles of almost 10,000 Australian schools. Information on the site has been provided by individual schools and education authorities.
- Independent Schools Victoria – information and listings about independent schools.
- Catholic Education Office – information and listings about Catholic schools.