Enrolment policy changes

The Enrolment of Students in NSW Government Schools policy was recently reviewed to better support schools.

What's new?

The review consolidates many of the enrolment procedures and instructions provided to schools through memoranda over a number of years. These old instruments (eg enhanced enrolment procedures, adult enrolment) has been removed from the website and school staff will need to go to one location only for student enrolment instructions.

The revised policy also introduces measures for schools with a designated intake area, that are at or nearing capacity, to manage their non-local enrolment applications. These measures are required to ensure that the department can:

  • continue to meet its legislative obligation to provide a student an enrolment place at his or her local school
  • better use existing physical assets and minimise the need for demountable buildings to accommodate non-local enrolments.

The revised policy features the following changes for schools with a designated intake area:

Every school with a designated intake area will have an enrolment cap. The enrolment cap is set centrally and replaces the locally determined enrolment 'ceilings'.

The cap is the number of students that can be enrolled based on the school's permanent accommodation and typical class sizes for the school type, taking in consideration the ability of schools to offer a range of curriculum choices for secondary students.

Schools that have exceeded their enrolment cap will not enrol non-local students, unless required by the Director Educational Leadership.

What has not changed?

The number of students that can be enrolled in a school has always been based on the number of permanent classrooms.

The school’s obligation to enrol a child of compulsory school age who resides within its designated intake area remains.

In particular circumstances, schools may be directed to enrol a student.

As a result of the introduction of enrolment caps, schools may need to set a different local enrolment buffer level to ensure that places are set aside for local students who may enrol during the year.

The size of the local enrolment buffer is set locally by the principal and approved by the Director, Educational Leadership. It is reviewed annually and set in time for assessing applications for the following year’s enrolment intake.

Schools that have exceeded their local enrolment buffer level will not enrol non-local students, unless required by the Director Educational Leadership.

What has not changed?

The school’s local enrolment buffer will continue to be set locally within the enrolment cap.

Local factors will continue to be considered when setting the buffer size.

Many schools already use a residential address checklist of some form. Under the revised policy, the prescribed 100-point residential address check will be used to confirm that the student being presented for enrolment lives within the school’s intake area, where the school has:

  • exceeded its enrolment cap, or
  • reached its local enrolment buffer level, or
  • received more non-local enrolment applications than available places below the buffer level.

In exceptional circumstances, the principal may waive the use of the 100-point residential address check subject to approval by the Director, Educational Leadership.

A one-page fact sheet has been prepared to provide parents/carers more information about residential address checks.

What has not changed?

All staff in schools will abide by the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998.

School staff will continue to exercise due diligence in the collection, use and storage of any documents provided by our clients. This includes:

  • discerning if copies of documents containing personal information need to collected
  • using information collected for administering enrolment applications only
  • storing the information securely
  • complying with records retention and disposal requirements (i.e. items 3.0.4 and 3.0.5 of the Functional Retention and Disposal Authority FA387).

In schools that are nearing their local enrolment buffer, principals in receipt of a non-local enrolment application will inform the principal of the student’s local school and seek the approval of the Director Educational Leadership to enrol the student.

What has not changed?

Directors, Educational Leadership continue to support schools in managing their enrolment levels and retain particular delegations under the Education Act 1990.

The revised policy:

  • clarifies that the selection criteria for non-local enrolments will not include student ability, performance or achievement, and that priority should be given to siblings of currently enrolled students where possible.
  • specifies the principal may determine appeals to applications for enrolment and adult enrolment that have been declined by enrolment panels, provided they are not part of the panel.
  • specifies that when changes to a local intake area result in a family with a child currently enrolled and in attendance at the school as local students consequently residing outside the local intake area, the family will be allowed to enrol siblings together at the school, regardless of whether the school is over the cap or buffer level.

What has not changed?

Criteria for non-local enrolment applications must not be unlawfully discriminatory. They should be developed by the principal after consultation with the school community and should be made available (for example. through the school's website) to the school community and parents who are interested in enrolling their children. Criteria may include:

  • siblings already enrolled at the school
  • proximity and access to the school
  • access to single-sex education
  • medical reasons
  • safety and supervision of the student before and after school
  • availability of subjects or combinations of subjects
  • compassionate circumstances
  • structure and organisation of the school
  • recent change in the local intake area boundaries.

Only specialist schools, for example  sports or performing arts high schools, may include student ability, performance or achievement in the school’s specialisation within the criteria for non-local enrolment.

Schools form an enrolment panel only if the number of non-local enrolment applications exceed the number of places outside the buffer. Schools that can accommodate non-local enrolment applications received without exceeding their buffer level should process the applications without convening an enrolment panel.

The changes will only apply to schools with a designated intake area.

The changes should not affect other enrolment procedures for students accessing particular education settings, (for example selective schools, distance education, specialist support classes for students with disability, Intensive English Centres, and other settings) or for students in particular circumstances (for example temporary residents, international students, students with a history of violence, etc).

Many aspects of student enrolment have not changed under the revised policy.

In particular, the department’s obligation to give paramount importance to the best educational and wellbeing needs of the student, as long as this does not compromise their health and safety or that of other students and staff, remains.

Students who are already enrolled in NSW Government schools are not affected.

When will the changes take effect?

Implementation of the revised policy is phased.

1. Week 1 Term 3 2019: Implementation of the revised policy without the centrally set cap

Directors Educational Leadership will be provided with the centrally-calculated enrolment caps for schools under their responsibility. They will advise schools in their network of their calculated enrolment cap and will work with principals to:

  • set the school's local enrolment buffer
  • ensure that relevant staff know their school’s cap, and whether they can or cannot accept non-local enrolments
  • for schools nearing their buffer level, review and publish their non-local selection criteria
  • for schools over the cap, establish a plan for managing the school’s enrolment numbers.

Designated specialist schools (for example, those with specialist support classes, intensive English classes) may also require an adjustment to their cap. The principal and Director Educational Leadership will discuss if an adjustment to the cap is warranted.

2. Week 1 Term 4 2019: Full implementation of the revised policy

From this date, enrolment caps for schools will have been finalised and reflected in Scout reports.

Need more information?

View the frequently asked questions and resources for schools to support the implementation of the revised enrolment policy.

Contact the following for further information on the revised policy:

  • Schools should contact the Director Educational Leadership.
  • Directors Educational Leadership should contact Schools Policy and Information Management on 02 7814 3870.

Tell us how we did with the new Enrolment policy update.

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