Educational provision – change in future school operation procedures

Direction and guidance for changes in NSW public school operation, such as recess, closure, merger, demerger, or other educational provision models.


The local Director, Educational Leadership, School Infrastructure NSW staff, staff in schools and school community members.

Version Date Description of changes Approved by
V01.0.0 13/05/2024 Under the 2023 Policy and procedures review program, first publication in the Policy Library. Deputy Secretary, Public Schools

About the policy

These procedures relate to the Asset management policy.

Term Definition


The school is awaiting recommencement of operation or closure.


The school ceases operation permanently.


The school is combined with another school/s and one or more sites are vacated.


The school is separated from another previously merged school/s and one or more sites are reoccupied.

What needs to be done

The operational status of an NSW public school may change over time.

The department may act when a school's ongoing viability is in question or when an alternative educational provision offers significant advantages. Therefore, a school may be:

  • placed in recess
  • closed
  • merged (combined with another school/s, and one or more sites are vacated).

An alternative model may be considered depending on the local context and need.

A change to a school's operation requires approval by an appropriate senior department executive or, in the cases of closure or merge, the Minister.

The department developed these procedures in consultation with the NSW Primary Principals’ Association, the NSW Secondary Principals’ Council, the Special Education Principals' and Leaders' Association and the NSW Teachers’ Federation.

1. Consider educational provision

When considering a change to a school’s education provision, a Director, Educational Leadership :

  • discusses the provision with their Executive Director
  • may lead an informal consultation process to gather information and further understand all considerations.

This process is not dependent on student enrolment numbers. Consideration will be given to the projected future enrolments.

2. Conduct formal consultation

The department consults stakeholders when considering a school's future educational provision.

Once the Director, Educational Leadership (DEL) decides to proceed with a change to educational provision – which may include recess, closure, merger, demerger or an alternate educational provision model – they:

  • get approval from the Deputy Secretary Public Schools
  • lead a formal consultation process, including key stakeholders.

In consultation with School Infrastructure NSW, the DEL may choose to form a consultation group, the composition of which will depend on the individual circumstances and size of the school. The group may include:

  • local DEL (consultation group leader)
  • School Infrastructure staff (integral member for consultation)
  • principal (with access to support from their relevant professional association, if required)
  • principal/s of other locally impacted school or schools, if the merging of schools or other educational provisions is a consideration
  • parents and citizens (P&C) representative or parent representative (if there is no existing school P&C)
  • a member of the local Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (AECG)
  • a relevant department officer from the School Workforce directorate to provide expert advice and support (if required)
  • local NSW Teachers Federation Organiser
  • local Member of Parliament.

To guide decision-making, refer to the additional information and resources for DELs.

When educational provision changes at a school and staff movement is required, the department will consult individual staff members as per the NSW Staffing Agreement.

3. Consider other relevant operational and asset-related matters

The Director, Educational Leadership (DEL) must also seek advice or approval from the responsible department directorates about operational matters, including:

  • student support for transition
  • storage and/or redistribution of school teaching and learning resources
  • storage and/or redistribution of IT hardware
  • storage and/or redistribution of furniture
  • storage and/or display of school historical memorabilia
  • grounds maintenance
  • disposal of land and buildings
  • allocation of school codes.

4. Obtain approval for the proposed change

The Director, Educational Leadership must gain written approval from:

  • an appropriate senior department executive
  • the Minister for school closures or mergers.

5. Perform post approval actions

The Director, Educational Leadership (DEL) advises the school’s change of status through the School Lifecycle Pipeline, which is the central source of information about the department's approved school lifecycle changes. The director also advises the school community of the status change.

To ensure that school operations are not impacted, and that the necessary school codes and other arrangements are properly completed, the DEL should refer to the School Lifecycle Changes – High Level Process to activate the relevant lifecycle changes in line with required process.

5.1 Schools placed in recess

The DEL routinely reviews the school’s status, at least every 2 years, to assess changes in the surrounding area and community.

A school may remain in recess until the DEL conducts a future-focused consultation with Schools Infrastructure NSW (SINSW) regarding asset-related and demographic analysis, as well as engagement with local community, principals, PPA/SPC, NSWTF and MP, and concludes that the school may need to be reopened or is no longer required.

Where there is strong indication from demographic trends that there will be a viable and sustained increase in school or pre-school aged children within the community, the department will evaluate the feasibility of reopening the school, continuing to hold the school in recess, or closing the school.

While the school is in recess, regular site maintenance will continue through the SINSW Regional Office.

5.2 Schools approved for closure

If the Minister approves a school for closure, the DEL informs SINSW.

SINSW will consider disposal options for the site, such as sale or alternative use.

Record-keeping requirements

All associated documents are registered using the department’s current system for registered correspondence.

Mandatory tools and templates

Supporting tools, resources and related information

  • The Education Act 1990 (section 28) stipulates the Minister’s authority regarding closing a school.

Policy contact

Leader, Executive Support, Office of the Deputy Secretary Public Schools
02 7814 2410

The Deputy Secretary Public Schools monitors the implementation of this procedure, regularly reviews its contents to ensure relevance and accuracy, and updates it as needed.

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