The Sydney Grammar School, established in 1854, is the oldest secondary school still in use in Sydney CBD.
The NSW school system comprises a kindergarten to year twelve system with primary schooling up to year 6 and secondary schooling between year 7 and 12. Schooling is compulsory until age 17. Primary and secondary schools include government and non-government schools. Government schools are further classified as comprehensive and selective schools. Non-government schools include Catholic schools, other denominational schools, and non-denominational independent schools.
Typically, a primary school provides education from kindergarten level to year 6. A secondary school, usually called a “high school”, provides education from years 7 to 12. Secondary colleges are secondary schools which only cater for years 11 and 12.
The government classifies the 13 years of primary and secondary schooling into six stages, beginning with early stage 1 (Kindergarten) and ending with stage 6 (years 11 and 12).
The School Certificate was awarded by the Board of Studies to students at the end of Year 10. The Board of Studies administered five external tests in English-literacy, Mathematics, Science, Australian History, Geography, Civics and Citizenship. The tests were designed to grade a student on their ability. The results of this test were categorised into bands 1 through to 6 with band 1 as the lowest and band 6 as the highest. Adrian Piccoli the NSW Education Minister confirmed that School Certificate tests would not continue after 2011.
The Higher School Certificate (HSC) is the usual Year 12 leaving certificate in NSW. Most students complete the HSC prior to entering the workforce or going on to study at university or TAFE (although the HSC itself can be completed at TAFE). The HSC must be completed for a student to get an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (formerly Universities Admission Index), which determines the students rank against fellow students who completed the Higher School Certificate.
Eleven universities primarily operate in New South Wales. Sydney is home to Australia’s first university, the University of Sydney, founded in 1850, as well as the University of New South Wales, Macquarie University, the University of Technology, Sydney and the University of Western Sydney. The Australian Catholic University has two of its six campuses in Sydney, and the private University of Notre Dame Australia also operates a secondary campus in the city.
Outside Sydney, the leading universities are the University of Newcastle and the University of Wollongong. Armidale is home to the University of New England, and Charles Sturt University and Southern Cross University have campuses spread across cities in the state’s south-west and north coast respectively.
The public universities are state government agencies, however they are largely regulated by the federal government, which also administers their public funding. Admission to NSW universities is arranged together with universities in the Australian Capital Territory by another government agency, the Universities Admission Centre.
Primarily vocational training is provided up the level of advanced diplomas is provided by the state government’s ten Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutes. These institutes run courses in over 130 campuses throughout the state.
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