Managing community expectations
For many parents, enrolling their child is a major event. It is usually their first contact with the school, especially if they are enrolling a child in a NSW Government school for the first time. They may be unfamiliar with some of our processes and will be reliant on school staff for help.
Under the School Community Charter, staff have a responsibility ensure that our schools are positive environments where parents and carers can expect to be welcomed, be provided with timely information, and treated fairly and respectfully.
Changes to the enrolment policy will affect schools that have a designated intake area. Local enrolment processes will change for some of these schools, particularly those that have exceeded their enrolment cap, or have reached their local enrolment buffer level, or have received enrolment applications more than the number of available places outside the buffer.
School staff has a critical role in implementing policy while continuing to support parents through the enrolment process. Below are some strategies to help schools manage community expectations.
Familiarise yourself with the revised enrolment policy and determine which of the changes apply to your school.
Parents and carers expect communication from school staff to be timely and informative. Familiarise yourself with the revised enrolment policy and determine if any of the changes apply to your school.
It is important for school staff assisting parents with student enrolment to be knowledgeable with departmental requirements and the school’s local processes.
This engenders community trust and confidence in the enrolment process and sets a solid base on which to build a professional relationship between the school and the family.
This site provides detailed information on the enrolment policy changes, resources for staff, and useful contacts if you have any questions about local implementation.
Consider having a dedicated page for enrolment information on the school’s website.
Providing parents all relevant information upfront facilitates school accountability and transparency of decision making as well as parents’ understanding of enrolment requirements and confidence in the school's decisions.
The school’s website is an efficient way to communicate and engage with the community and an effective tool to manage community expectations in relation to student enrolment.
If your school is using the School Website Service, there is an optional section within ‘Enrolment’ that could be used to inform parents/carers of the school’s non-local enrolment procedures.
Within the non-local enrolment section, consider:
- adding the school’s enrolment cap, local enrolment buffer level, or available places per scholastic year.
- adding information on waiting lists and appeals.
Parents and carers expect to be treated fairly and with respect at all times, including when enrolling their child.
When receiving enrolment applications, school staff must follow the department’s Enrolment of students in NSW Government schools policy. This includes, but not limited to the following.
- School staff will ensure that students are not discriminated against including on the grounds of their race, religion, gender, age, ethnicity, language background, disability, sexual orientation, transgender status and marital or domestic status, when enrolling in NSW Government schools.
- When making enrolment decisions, including assessing non-local enrolment applications, school staff will ensure that the processes given in the General enrolment procedures are followed. Staff will consider the following:
- Are the prescribed processes being followed?
- Is the decision fair, reasonable and without any bias?
- Can the decision withstand scrutiny, an appeal or a complaint?
- Is the decision consistent with any published information on which the parents may have based their actions or decisions?
- Has advice been sought from relevant department staff to clarify any procedural matter?
Provide parents seeking to enrol their child with the opportunity to seek more information and if needed, to provide feedback, appeal a decision, or make a complaint.
Parents act or make decisions based on available information. Providing parents with all relevant information facilitates their understanding of enrolment requirements and acceptance of the school's enrolment decisions.
However, unsuccessful non-local applicants may appeal against the decision of the enrolment panel.
Any appeal is to be made in writing to the principal, if the principal is not on the panel. Otherwise, the Director Educational Leadership will consider the appeal. If necessary, the school will provide or arrange assistance, such as an interpreter, to enable the appeal to be set out in writing.
The purpose of the appeal is to determine whether the stated criteria have been applied equitably. Contact with the appellant may be needed to make a decision. The parent will be advised of the outcome in writing. Schools may use this template for communicating upheld decisions to parents or carers.
If the matter is not resolved at the school level, the final level of appeal is to the Director Educational Leadership.
If the parent has any feedback or complaints about the enrolment process, the school is often best placed to address procedural matters. The parent may also be directed to the department's website for more information about making a complaint, compliment or suggestion.