Quick guide for parents

This alphabetical index provides a list of common topics of inquiry. Let us guide you to the information most important to you.

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Attendance

Students will achieve their educational best and increase their career and life options through regular attendance at school.

  • In NSW, all children from the age of 6 are legally required to attend school or be registered for home schooling. All students must complete Year 10, or its equivalent. Young people below the age of 17 must be:
    • in school, or registered for home schooling
    • in approved education or training, such as a traineeship, apprenticeship or TAFE
    • in full-time paid employment (average 25 hours a week)
    • in a combination of work, education and/or training.
  • Students 17 years and over who are enrolled in school are required to attend school regularly to meet HSC course requirements.
  • Parents must explain all absences to the school within 7 days.

For more information about compulsory school attendance, visit:


Before and after school

Some primary schools offer before and after-school care for primary school-aged children. Vacation care may also be available. Fees are charged for these services.

For information about the availability of before and after-school care, you should contact the principal of the school.


Bushfire information

The department has conducted assessments of all NSW Government schools in bushfire-prone areas to determine the level of risk for bushfire.

Department facilities located in bushfire-prone areas plan and prepare for the bushfire season. Our facilities monitor local conditions during the bushfire season – particularly when there is bushfire activity in the local area.

Facilities in bushfire-prone areas at an increased risk

Department facilities that have been assessed at an increased risk are identified on a bushfire register. These facilities will have alternative arrangements in place if a catastrophic fire danger rating is issued for their location. Your school, college or campus will provide information on alternative arrangements in the event of bushfire.

Visit our School safety page to learn more about bushfire preparedness.


Canteens

Most public schools have canteens on-site. These may be run by the P&C, the school itself or leased privately.

Visit Healthy school canteens to learn more.


Careers advisory service

The careers advisory service has career information to help students, teachers, parents and carers to explore post schools options.

In addition, the Australian Government’s myfuture website is a quality, current and unbiased career information and exploration service.


Curriculum

The NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) is responsible for the curriculum, Kindergarten to Year 12, in all NSW schools. Each school adapts the curriculum to suit their local context and the needs of their students.

To learn more about curriculum in NSW, visit:


Counselling

School counselling staff, year advisers and careers advisers are available in each school to support students – some also have Aboriginal education officers to assist. Students can request a meeting with an adviser or school counselling staff.

School counselling staff are members of the school learning and support team. A teacher may recommend the service by referring the student to the team. Parents and carers may also refer their child directly to the school counselling service and students can self-refer.

Contact your local school for more information about when the school counselling service is at your child's school.

The school counselling service can:

  • support students who are worrying about school work, friends, getting in trouble at school or just feeling down
  • assist parents make decisions about their child’s education
  • assess a student’s learning and behaviour
  • help teachers and students identify and address disabilities that may affect learning
  • liaise with other agencies regarding student wellbeing.

School counselling is a confidential service.

For more information about learning and support teams and school counsellors, visit:


Disability, learning and support

There is a range of programs and services available in NSW public schools to help students with disability and additional learning and support needs get the most out of school. These programs and services are designed to offer students personalised learning and support to meet their individual needs.

The NDIS

You can find information on the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), which provides individualised supports to eligible children and young people with disability outside of school, in our Disability, learning and support section.

For general enquiries in the first instance, contact your school or your local educational services team on 131 536.


Discipline

All NSW public school students have a right to an inclusive learning environment free from bullying and intimidation and to feel safe and happy at school.

Visit Wellbeing and learning – Student discipline for further information.


Enrolment

NSW public schools have specific local enrolment areas. These areas are determined by the Department of Education. Students enrol in public schools based on their home address. All public schools ensure there are enough places for students in their local enrolment area. Schools may accept enrolments from outside their area if places are available.

Although preferable, designated local schools may not always be the closest public school to your home. Schools work with their local community to provide advice on public transport availability.

Enrolment of Students in NSW Government Schools sets out the entitlements and requirements for enrolment in public schools in NSW. School principals can also help with enrolment inquiries throughout the year.

Find your local NSW public school using the School Finder tool.

Choose the appropriate enrolment option:

Excursions

Excursions are offered to enhance and support classroom studies. They often provide practical experiences to extend learning, for example, a visit to an art gallery, theatre or farm.

Discuss any concerns about your ability to pay for excursions with the school principal.

Go to the Excursions Policy for more information.


Family law matters

  • The educational interests, safety and welfare of the child are given paramount consideration when decisions are made by the school about the impact of family law matters on a child's education.
  • Consideration is also given to the effective and efficient operation of the school and a parent's obligations under the NSW Education Act 1990, that is, to ensure children of compulsory school age receive an education.
  • Parents or carers are responsible for providing the school with any court orders that impact on the relationship between the family and the school.
  • In the absence of court orders it will be assumed both parents are involved in any decisions made concerning major long-term issues impacting on the school.
  • The school is not the appropriate place for family disputes to be resolved, nor is it appropriate for school staff to resolve such issues.

Download the department's guidelines for Dealing with family law related issues


Head lice

Outbreaks of head lice are common, particularly in primary schools. NSW Health recommends students continue to attend school.

For further information go to:


Health and safety

Public schools promote the healthy development of students through:

  • school programs and practices that protect and promote health and safety
  • supporting individual students who need help with health issues
  • providing first aid and temporary care of students who become unwell or who have an accident at school.

For more information, visit Wellbeing and learning – health and physical care.

The department is committed to ensuring a safe and happy environment for your child. Schools have a variety of strategies to promote this. Examples include:

Our antibullying website provides resources and information for schools, parents and carers, and students. Schools should be free from bullying and harassment. Report any cases of bullying or harassment to the principal.

For information about emergencies visit our School safety page.


Homework and study

All schools have a homework policy developed in consultation with the school community. Homework reinforces work done in class and bridges the gap between learning at school and learning at home. It also assists the development of research and time management skills.

Students in high school should also regularly review work covered in class, summarise key ideas and do additional reading and research on topics, as well as practise tasks such as essays and maths problems during scheduled study time at home.

Kindergarten to year 2

In general, formal homework isn't set in Kindergarten – although reading to children at home will assist their development.

In Years 1 and 2 some formal homework is usually set, such as simple maths tasks, copying letters and words or completing a work sheet.

Years 3 to 6

Homework in Years 3 to 6 is varied and students will be expected to work more independently. A lot of homework will be in English, mathematics and human society and its environment (HSIE). However, it can be set across all areas of the curriculum.

Years 7 to 12

In Years 7 to 12 homework should be set on a regular basis in most subjects. In Years 11 and 12 homework and study demands increase.

Study and assessment planning

Being organised is the key to successful high school studies. Using a term planner to remind your child of forthcoming assessment tasks and exams, as well as a homework and study timetable can be useful.

Want to learn more?

Visit our 'Parents and carers' pages for tips on helping your child with homework, tests, and exams.

Go to the Homework Policy for more details.


Hot weather

Schools have a range of strategies to assist students and teachers cope with hot weather including altering timetables, postponing activities and enforcing policies such as ‘No hat, no play’.

For more information go to:


Immunisation

The department supports the immunisation of children to protect students against outbreaks of infectious diseases.

For further information go to:


Infectious diseases

Principals must notify their local public health unit of certain vaccine preventable diseases. For details go to Wellbeing and learning – infectious diseases.

Go to NSW Health for more information about infectious diseases


Interpreting and translations

Interpreting and/or translation services are available for parents who do not speak or understand English well, the deaf or hearing impaired and those with a speech impairment. Ask your school for an interpreter for matters such as:

  • school enrolment
  • subject choice
  • educational progress
  • attendance or other issues
  • school meetings
  • P&C meetings
  • parent–teacher interviews.

To learn more visit Interpreting and translations.

Translated documents

Information about NSW public schools is available in many languages. Visit Translated documents to search for available documents.

For further information, call 02 9244 5311.


Medication at school

Prior arrangements must be made with the school if a student needs to take prescribed medication during the school day. Visit Wellbeing and learning – administering prescribed medication for details.


Parent organisations

Getting involved in your child's school can be a rewarding experience. Parents are always welcome to participate in school activities.

P&C Federation

The P&C Federation supports local P&C associations made up of parent, carers and citizens. They meet regularly to have input into decision-making, developing policies and management plans, as well as fundraising.

Aboriginal Education Consultative Group

The Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (AECG) supports Aboriginal communities with education and related issues. It is a community-based Aboriginal organisation made up of volunteers with state, regional and local branches. The AECG promotes the involvement and participation of Aboriginal communities in the development of Aboriginal education policy at federal and state level.

For more information you can:


School hours

Each school determines its hours to suit local needs and meet required teaching and learning times.

Standard school hours are generally:

  • primary schools – 9:30am to 3:30pm with a recess break of 15 minutes and lunch break of one hour
  • high school – 9am to 3:30pm with recess and lunch breaks of 30 minutes.

Usually students are not permitted on school premises until half an hour before the start of school and must leave when the school day ends. Students must have a permission note signed by a parent and approved by the school if leaving the premises during the school day.


School transport

Your school can provide information about transport routes, travel passes, subsidies and other travel arrangements to and from school.

Transport for NSW provides subsidies to assist school students.

  • The School Student Transport Scheme provides subsidised travel on public transport for eligible students travelling to and from school. Travel passes will be issued to students who meet the scheme's requirements for distance and other eligibility criteria. Students must present their school travel pass or school Opal card when boarding transport or fares will be charged.
  • The School Drive Subsidy is available to eligible families in areas where there is no public transport available for travel to and from school. A subsidy may be paid to parents towards the costs of driving their children to school or to a transport pick-up point.
  • The Department of Education provides transport assistance to eligible students with disability. Visit Assisted School Travel Program for details.

Students arriving at school should go straight into the school grounds. After school finishes, they should walk directly to the appropriate transport stop and board in a way that's respectful of other passengers.

Safe travel

Students should learn about safe travel to and from school – it's useful to familiarise younger children with the route prior to starting school.

Parents and carers are responsible for deciding the safest way for  their child to get to and from school whether as a pedestrian, passenger,  rider or driver.

Explore our safe travel tips for:

All types of travel require planning, safe practices and observing road rules and guidelines. Young children, in particular, require active supervision by an adult whenever they are in a traffic environment.

First Stop Transport – Travel Training may assist older children to learn to travel safely and independently.


Starting school

Children can start Kindergarten at the beginning of the school year if they turn 5 on or before 31 July that year. By law, all children must be in compulsory schooling by their 6th birthday. For more information on preparing your child and orientation programs visit Starting school.


Technology in schools

Explore how NSW public schools support future-focused learning and teaching that will prepare our students for tomorrow’s world.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) – The term “device” refers to any mobile electronic technology, including assistive technologies, brought into the school, which is owned by the student, and which has the capability of connecting to the department’s Wi-Fi network.

BYOD is an optional strategy. The decision to implement BYOD in schools remains with the school in consultation with its community.


Uniforms

The department supports the wearing of school uniforms by students. Schools develop their own uniform guidelines in consultation with their community. Parents should contact the school for the guidelines before their child starts at the school.

Many schools operate a school uniform clothing pool with new and second-hand items to keep costs down. The school can also advise parents about where to buy uniforms.

For more information about school uniforms, visit:


Voluntary school contributions

Public schools can request contributions to enhance educational and sporting programs. School contributions help provide additional educational resources for the benefit of students – payment is voluntary.

Principals will ensure no student or family suffers any discrimination or embarrassment over voluntary school contributions.

Schools may charge students for the purchase of materials used in some subjects. Parents who are unable to pay for elective subjects because of financial hardship may be eligible for assistance from the school.

For further information, visit Voluntary School Contribution Policy.


Wellbeing

NSW public schools provide safe learning and teaching environments to encourage healthy, happy, successful and productive students. Explore our growing list of Family wellbeing articles

Visit Wellbeing and learning to learn more.

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