Leaving School Early

From Term 1 2017, Victorian government and Catholic schools will use the new Victorian Curriculum F-10. Curriculum related information is currently being reviewed and may be subject to change.

For more information on the curriculum, see:
The Victorian Curriculum F–10 - VCAA

Completing Year 12 or its equivalent has many benefits, but you may feel ready to move on from school before the end of Year 12. Your decision may be influenced by issues including the challenges of school and homework, your social life or home life and problems with your friends. When you are dealing with these and other issues, it is sometimes hard to think clearly and make a decision about your future – be it staying at school, doing a TAFE course, going to university or leaving school and trying to find a job.

If you are planning to leave school before Year 12, there is information about the best career options available to you that can help you make a choice about your future.

If you want to leave school before completing Year 12

It is important to talk about your options before you make the decision to leave school. You can talk to your parents or guardian, the careers coordinator or any other teachers at your school that you feel you can relate to.

While completing Year 12 in the school environment may not be the best option for you, there are alternatives to consider. You should look at the available options for completing Year 12 in another setting, including at TAFE or a Learn Local education and training organisation.

It is also important to remember that if you are under 17 years old, you are legally required to be in education, training or employment.

For more information about changes to the minimum school leaving age, including a list of frequently asked questions, see: New Participation Age Requirements – Frequently Asked Questions

Why should you stay at school?

Your parents, year level coordinator and teachers are probably already telling you that having a good education will increase your chances of getting a better job in the future. And there is some research that backs this up.

Research shows that if you leave school without completing Year 12 you are likely to earn less when you begin working. You are also more likely to experience long periods of unemployment and less likely to return to study later in life.

On average, if you choose not to finish Year 12 you will earn around half a million dollars less during your lifetime than someone who does finish Year 12.

Research also indicates that if you have trouble finding secure employment by your mid-twenties, you will continue to be disadvantaged in many ways, both financially and socially.

It is important to think carefully about staying at school or exploring alternative education or training options.

Other education and training options

School is the best place for most students to complete their education, but you may be better suited to options other than school.

For information, see:

  • Learn Local education and training - information about over 300 government registered organisations that deliver initial training and nationally recognised vocational courses for all Victorians
  • Further education and training – information on education and training options including apprentices, trainees, students, teachers, trainers, businesses and employers 
  • Centrelink – access to relevant education and training information and can be used to apply for payments online
  • Study Assist – search for courses available at universities and other organisations throughout Australia. Includes the fees charged, eligibility, how to apply and the support available if you go to university
  • Skills Gateway – one-stop-shop for vocational training in Victoria 

Who can help?

Youth Connections

The Youth Connections Program can help you if you have left school, or are thinking of leaving school, to continue with your education and ultimately gain a Year 12 or equivalent level education.

For more information see: Youth Connections Program

Other people you can talk to

There are people at school you can talk to if you want to leave school early:

  • your careers coordinator
  • your Managed Individual Pathways (MIPs) coordinator
  • your year level coordinator
  • your student wellbeing coordinator
  • other teachers in your school.

People outside of school you can speak to include:

  • relatives and family friends who you feel comfortable talking to
  • youth workers in community settings
  • TAFE and university course counsellors.

More information

For more information on planning a career while you are at school, see: Beyond School