Secondary school

group working

Secondary School Education from Year 7 to Year 12 (HSC) is divided into three stages. The three stages of learning are:

  • Stage 4 = Years 7 and 8 (starting around 12 years of age)
  • Stage 5 = Years 9 and 10 (eligible for the Record of School Achievement or RoSA from around 16 years of age)
  • Stage 6 = Years 11 and 12 or HSC (finishing around 18 years of age)


Schooling in NSW is based on the mandatory NSW syllabuses for students from Kindergarten to Year 12. The syllabuses are developed and endorsed by NSW Education Standard Authority (NESA.)

Schools have discretion to offer courses beyond the NESA curriculum.

Click here to learn more about the syllabus

For more information contact your school.

Stage 4 and Stage 5 Subject Selection

students in front of school

Students may have the option to choose subjects known as electives in Stage 4 and Stage 5. The choice of electives will be determined by each school. Contact your school for more details.

Stage 6 preparing for the Higher School Certificate (HSC)

The HSC and the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) are different measures.

The HSC is awarded to students after they have satisfactorily completed eligibility requirements.

The ATAR is a number between 0.00 and 99.95 that indicates a student’s position relative to all the students in their age group. The is a rank, not a mark. The ATAR is used by the University Admission Board to assist universities to offer places for courses.

The subject compass developed by UAC is a handy tool to assist students think about future career path.

Click here for the Subject Compass

The Higher School Certificate (HSC)

There are different types of HSC courses available for children to pursue. Students and families should discuss with their school what is the best option for them.

Types of HSC courses

Board Developed courses contribute to the calculation of the ATAR.

Courses that count towards your HSC and do not count towards and ATAR.

Board Endorsed courses are developed by schools, TAFE and universities.

Special education (Life Skills) - If you have special education needs you can attain your HSC by studying Life Skills courses.

Vocational Education and Training (VET) - VET courses can be studied either at school or through TAFE NSW and other training providers.

Click here for more information


National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) is an annual assessment for all students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9. It tests the types of skills that are essential for every child to progress through school and life. The tests cover skills in reading, writing, spelling, grammar and punctuation, and numeracy. The assessments are undertaken every year in the second full week in May.

Click here for more information on NAPLAN

Schools in the ACT following the Australian curriculum

Click here for information about the Australian Curriculum

Guides to assist you to help your child

The Gearing Up for Parent Engagement in Student Learning Toolkit has been developed by Catholic School Parents Australia to assist families and schools develop meaningful partnerships to improve learning and wellbeing of students.

There are information topics such as wellbeing and learning at home and developing relationships.

Click here to go to CSPA's website: