Department of Education



Participation ‹ Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Q: Can I leave school or training as soon as I have reached my 17th birthday?
A: You have to stay in school or training or approved work (or in a combination of approved options) until the end of the year in which you turn 17 and 6 months or you have reached the age of 18 years, whichever happens first. 

You no longer have to attend school or training or approved work (or in combination of approved options) if you satisfy the minimum requirements for graduation from secondary school established under the School Curriculum and Standards Act (1997) .  The minimum requirement is that you have achieved the Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE).

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Q: Can I still have a part time job even though I am at school or college?
A: Yes, it's fine to have a part time job so long as you are still going to school or training on a full time basis or if that part-time job is part of an approved combination with part-time school and/or training and/or employment. Back to top
Q: I don't have any parents or a legal guardian, so who signs my forms?
A: Speak with your school principal or contact us so we can confirm you are completely independent. Back to top
Q: If I live in the country, will my local school be able to offer a suitable program?
A: If your school previously only went up to Year 10 it will offer a limited program for students who for some reason cannot attend a senior high school (with Years 11 and 12).  This program may involve distance learning or structured workplace learning.  For many, a bus service is provided to the nearest senior high school. Back to top
Q: Isn't this law a bit unfair for 17 year olds?
A: We know from research that young people who leave school too early to take up employment are often unemployed by their 20s and then find it difficult to find work. Further study after finishing school means that over a lifetime you will be more employable, more mobile, earn more money and enjoy greater satisfaction in your career.

Many countries are appreciating the benefits to both the community and the individual student in receiving training or education for a longer period. The UK is currently working on increasing its 'leaving age' to 18, and in Canada young people under 18 years of age cannot get a driving licence without proof that they are in education or training. Back to top
Q: What do I have to do if I don't want to stay at school full-time?
A: Your parents/legal guardian must fill in the appropriate form and follow the instructions to lodge the form.
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Q: What happens if I decide to stay on at school for year 11 or 12 but then change my mind?
A: If you decide to change direction you must choose another option and get that approved.  Your parents/legal guardian must let us know if your first option doesn't work out. Back to top
Q: What is a Participation Coordinator?
A: Located throughout the state they are there to provide help and support if you do not want to be at school full-time in the last two years of your compulsory education period and are unsure of what to do. They can help you develop a plan just for you and have lots of information about training and employment in the area where you live. Back to top
Q: What should I do if I am confused about all the choices on offer?
A: There is a lot of useful information on this website but if you still can't decide which would be the best option for you, speak with the career adviser at school or a Participation Coordinator who can help you to plan a personalised program.  They can be contacted through the Engagement and Transition Manager at your regional education office. Back to top
Q: Why can't I just do nothing?
A: Under the School Education Act 1999 you are required, by law, to be participating in full time approved education, training, employment or combination of options during the last two years of compulsory education. Back to top
Q: Why do we need to fill in forms at all?
A: The School Curriculum and Standards Authority (a WA Government body) is required to keep a database of all students' participation and achievement up to the end of your compulsory education period.  If the School Curriculum and Standards Authority doesn't know what you are doing it can only assume you are not participating in an approved education, training or employment option. Back to top
Frequently asked questions

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