Alternatives to full-time schooling

Alternatives to full-time schooling

During the final 2 years of a child’s compulsory education period, options including training and employment can be considered as an alternative to a full-time school enrolment.

An apprenticeship involves full-time or part-time work with an employer who provides an opportunity to learn all aspects of a trade. This is a structured program with a combination of on the job and off the job training at a TAFE college or another registered training organisation (one that has been approved by the government).

The difference between a traineeship and an apprenticeship is that a traineeship can be either a full-time or part-time employment-based training arrangement, usually for around 12 months (apprenticeships usually last for 3 to 4 years).  

Find out more about apprenticeships and traineeships from the Department of Training and Workforce Development’s Apprenticeship Office.

Training programs with qualifications accredited are available through registered training organisations (RTOs). The RTOs comply with guidelines for training delivery, assessment, and student welfare. Find out more from the Department of Training and Workforce Development about vocational education and training in Western Australia.

A child can undertake approved full-time employment as an alternate option to full-time school. The child must be employed by a workplace on a full-time basis. The arrangement to support this alternative option must include the child, parent or guardian and the employer.

Refer to the Department of Communities Employment of children laws information sheet to find out:

  • when a child is considered to be employed
  • what age a child can be employed and what type of work they can do
  • at what age a child who is attending school can be employed
  • at what age a child can leave school for employment
  • what to do if a child is doing work that could be harmful to them
  • how the laws are enforced.


A combination of approved options may be permitted including school, training or employment, with a combination being equivalent to full-time schooling.

If the combination involves employment, the employer is part of the arrangement.

If you need further advice on the options available, contact your child’s school or education regional office.

Approval for participation options

Understand how to get approval for an alternative participation option.

The way these options can be approved are:

Exemption from full-time schooling

If your child wants to leave school before the end of Year 10, you (the parent or legal guardian) must get the Minister for Education's approval for an 'exemption from full-time schooling'.

Notice of arrangements

If your child wants to leave school during the final 2 years of their compulsory education period (typically Years 11 and 12), you must get the Minister for Education's approval for a 'notice of arrangements'.

An exemption is only available for students in (or about to begin) Year 10 or above. This means that the child will reach the age of 15 years and 6 months (or older) in the year for which an exemption is sought.

An exemption permits your child to pursue an alternative to full-time schooling – usually the option is full time or a combination of education, training or employment, such as an apprenticeship. You (parent or legal guardian) must apply for the exemption.

Exemption for students enrolled at a public school

If your child is enrolled at a public school, seek advice from your child’s school principal or education regional office.

Exemption form for students enrolled at a non-government school

If your child is enrolled in a non-government school, submit the Application for exemption from school enrolment (non-government schools) form to the Director General of the Department of Education. The principal of your child’s school must recommend the exemption. Find the instructions on the form to submit the application.

If your child is in the final 2 years of their compulsory education period (Year 11 or 12) a 'notice of arrangements' is needed to approve an alternative full-time option or combination of activities that would be the equivalent to full-time schooling.

If the option is with a private registered training organisation, that organisation will need to complete the relevant section of the notice as well as the parent.

If the option includes employment, the employer will need to complete the relevant section of the notice as well as the parent.

You can choose to either:

If you decide to complete the paper form, send it to:

Participation Unit
Department of Education
151 Royal Street

or scan and email to