Understanding the school curriculum in Western Australia

Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE)

Breaking down the curriculum in WA


General education in Western Australia

The Western Australian education system is split into five different phases of schooling  — Early Childhood (Kindergarten to Year 2), Middle to Late Childhood (Years 3 to 6), Early Adolescence (Years 7 to 8), Middle Adolescence (Years 9 to 10) and Late Adolescence/Early Adulthood (Years 11 to 12). In the Early and Middle Childhood years, the emphasis is on literacy and numeracy skills. When students move into Late Childhood and Early Adolescence, the focus shifts to include all eight learning areas. In Middle Adolescence, there is increased emphasis on choosing learning pathways and building individual learning needs before students focus on their own strengths, interests and goals in senior secondary years as they work towards the Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE).

Selective or comprehensive?

Western Australia has one fully selective secondary school, Perth Modern School, which admits students on the basis of academic ability. Students looking to gain entry to the school sit the Academic Selective Entrance Test, administered by the Department of Education Gifted and Talented (GAT) unit.

Special interest schools

John Curtin College of the Arts offers a suite of dedicated arts programs, including media arts, dance, drama, music, music theatre and visual arts. Admission is based on results from the Application Selective Entrance Test and participation in workshops, auditions and interviews. A number of other schools offer advanced programs alongside the standard curriculum. 

Gifted and talented streams

Primary Extension and Challenge (PEAC) is a part-time program for children in Years 5 and 6 attending government primary schools. The program offers students the opportunity to interact with other gifted and talented peers, participate in a challenging and rigorous academic program, develop investigative and high-order process skills, and learn from practising experts. Students are selected in Year 4 based on results from assessment tests, teacher and parent nominations, and other relevant criteria. 
For students in Years 7 to 12, gifted and talented programs are offered at 18 government secondary schools across Western Australia. Students participate in a selective academic, arts or languages program, studying an enriched curriculum with access to universities, industry bodies, industry professionals and mentoring programs. To gain admission to gifted and talented programs, students need to sit the Academic Selective Entrance Test. Some programs also require an audition, interview or workshop. 

Visit the Department of Education website for more information about gifted and talented education in Western Australia.

Technical education schooling options

In Western Australia, students can gaintechnical skills through a school-based apprenticeship or traineeship, apre-apprenticeship or a VET industry-specific course.

Religious education in Western Australia

There are two types of religious education taught in Western Australian public schools:

  • General Religious Education (GRE): GRE looks at major forms of religious thought and expression and is usually included in the school curriculum.

  • Special Religious Education (SRE): SRE focuses on the distinctive beliefs of a particular religion. This type of religious education is provided by volunteers, rather than being taught as part of the general curriculum. It is not compulsory and parents can request that their child is withdrawn from the program.

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