School operations

School Dates

School term dates, student-free days, public holidays, Term 4 dismissal arrangements and Year 7 orientation responsibilities


The purpose of this policy is to ensure Victorian government schools are open on school days for student instruction, to outline the process for establishing and communicating student-free days and to explain responsibilities for Year 7 orientation days.


  • The Minister for Education determines Victorian government school term dates.
  • From 2023, school councils can schedule up to 5 student-free days based on the requirements detailed in this policy.
  • Schools should provide clear communication to parents and the broader school community regarding the scheduling of student-free days.
  • Year 7 orientation days occur on a fixed day common to all government schools.
  • Term 4 dismissals for secondary school students may vary from school term dates as determined by the school and following policy guidelines


School term dates

School term dates are determined by the Minister for Education in 5 year blocks to assist school planning. For the list of school term dates, refer to School term dates and holidays in VictoriaExternal Link .

Term 4 dismissals

Students up to and including Year 9 will attend school until the end of the school year.

The below steps describe the arrangements where other students may be excused from attending school at the end of the year.

Students who are in Year 10

May finish school from a Friday in December not more than 2 weeks before the end of the school year, noting that schools must provide suitable supervision and activities for any Year 10 student whose parents wish for their child to attend school up until the end of the school year.

Students who are in Year 11

May finish school after completing final exams but not before the close of the school day on the last Friday in November.

Students who are in Year 12

May finish school following their final exam.

Important: Principals may require attendance of these students at any time up to the last day of the school year.

Student-free days

Each year school councils may schedule up to 5 student-free days (when student instruction does not occur) for professional development, school planning and administration, curriculum development and student assessment and reporting.

School councils may only schedule the student-free days subject to the following requirements:

  • the first day of Term 1 each year must be a student-free day in all government schools to allow for appropriate planning to take place for the arrival of students
  • one student-free day is to be nominated for assessment and reporting
  • school councils have the flexibility to schedule 2 additional student-free days based on local school needs
  • if the principal determines to hold a common professional practice day (PPD) for teachers at the school, school councils will also schedule an additional, fifth student-free day, for use as a common PPD.

Student-free common professional practice days for teachers do not alter attendance requirements for education support class employees. Principals are encouraged to discuss the work arrangements for education support class employees on this day in advance.

Schools are unable to schedule student-free days additional to the 5 allowed each year.

Where possible, schools are encouraged to coordinate activities with other local schools to promote cooperative professional development and planning and maximise the use of available resources.

Student-free days are required to be recorded in the Student Activity LocatorExternal Link .


Principals must inform parents and the broader school community of the scheduling arrangements for student-free days (using community language notices where necessary).

Student-free days should be set well in advance each year so that parents can make suitable arrangements.

Schools serviced by Department of Transport or department school bus services must advise their service providers of their student-free day arrangements. Coordinating schools must advise affected non-government schools to enable them to make their own arrangements.

Schools should use a variety of communication strategies to inform their school community of annual student-free day arrangements.

These strategies may include notices in school newsletters, on the school website and answering machine/service, emails, online parent communication tools, signage outside the school and letters to parents.

Public holidays

Public holidays when schools in Victoria are not open are:

  • 1 January (New Year’s Day) or substitute day if this day falls on a weekend
  • 26 January (Australia Day) or substitute day if this day falls on a weekend
  • second Monday in March (Labour Day)
  • Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday
  • 25 April (ANZAC Day)
  • second Monday in June (observance of the sovereign’s birthday)
  • Friday before the AFL Grand Final
  • first Tuesday in November (Melbourne Cup Day) or such other day as is appointed under section 8 of the Public Holidays Act 1993
  • Note: Non-metropolitan councils may request that another day be appointed in lieu of Melbourne Cup Day and if approved, have it declared in the Victorian Government Gazette
  • 25 December (Christmas Day) or substitute day if this day falls on a weekend
  • 26 December (Boxing Day) or substitute day if this day falls on a weekend

For a full list of declared public holidays, refer to Business VictoriaExternal Link .

Year 7 Orientation day

Orientation days:

  • aim to promote enthusiasm and positive participation for secondary education in Year 6 students
  • are part of an extensive transition program conducted by secondary schools throughout the year
  • should be run by all secondary colleges on the second last Tuesday of the school year (usually the second Tuesday of December). Any proposal to change this date should be fully discussed with other schools and the regional director.

Orientation days should provide a full day program that:

  • is the responsibility of the secondary college
  • should be devised in consultation with primary schools
  • should not involve any form of testing.

Responsibility for students rests with:

  • parents or carers while students are travelling to and from Orientation day
  • the secondary school while the students attend Orientation day
  • the primary school when students do not attend orientation, for example, if they intend to attend a private secondary school.

Relevant legislation

Department policy on school terms dates, establishing student-free days, requirements relating to Term 4 dismissal arrangements and Year 7 orientation responsibilities

Reviewed 13 April 2023

Policy last updated

4 April 2023


  • Schools
  • School councils


School Operations and Governance Unit Operations and Governance Division

Was this page helpful?