Setting up a language school

Community languages schools help students learn and use their community language and are also open to any student who wants to learn a community language.

Community languages schools are operated by not-for-profit community organisations outside school hours.

Setting up a Community language school is a wonderful way to help young people understand their community language and culture and to help different generations communicate with each other.

Follow this guide to setting up your Community language school.

You must set up an incorporated association before you can run a community language school or apply for a grant from the NSW Community Languages Schools Program. The incorporated association must be able to demonstrate close links with a community whose first/heritage language is a language other than English.

Some things you will need to consider include:

  • Naming your association
  • Creating a management committee
  • Having the correct insurance
  • Financial management
  • Developing a constitution

Visit the NSW Fair Trading website for information about how to incorporate an association and to apply for registration of the incorporated association.

You must also register for an Australian Business Number (ABN). To apply for an ABN visit the Australian Business Register.

Most community languages schools operate in government schools outside regular school hours. You may also choose to run your community language school from a private, independent or other community location such as a church hall.

Here are some points to think about before choosing where your school will be located:

  • Your community language school must be more than two kilometres away from any other community language school which teaches the same language.
  • If you would like to use a government school you must arrange a meeting with the school principal to discuss your requirements. The school principal will make a decision based on the commitments they already have with other community groups.
  • If you are given permission by the school principal to use the school facilities you must sign a Community Use Agreement. This agreement outlines how your organisation can share the facilities of the government school.
  • Community languages schools funded by the NSW Community Languages Schools Program can use government school facilities and classrooms to run their school for free.

Follow these guidelines for your meetings with school principals.

You can download or print the guidelines for approaching a school (PDF 71.1KB) to help you with your planning.

How do I choose a school?

  • Choose at least two schools which your students can get to easily.
  • It’s often helpful if you choose a school that some of your students attend.
  • Find the schools’ phone numbers.
  • Your school must not be within 2km of another community language school which teaches the same language as your school.
  • The beginning of term is the best time to start classes so you would need to start organising meetings with schools at least one month before the end of the term.

How do I arrange a meeting?

  • Ring the school and ask for an appointment with the principal.
  • An example of what you might say is “My name is … I am the representative from the… community. We would like to open a community language school and are looking for premises where we can hold our classes”.
  • Sometimes, in large schools, a deputy principal manages community use of the premises and you may meet with her/him instead of the principal.
  • Write down the details of person you will be meeting with and the date and time. Ask for the spelling of the name if you are not sure.
  • The appointment will usually be during school hours.

What should I say at the meeting?

  • During the meeting be respectful, professional and confident about the value of your school’s work.
  • Wear business or smart casual clothing.
  • First impressions are very important so it is important to be prepared. Make sure you have the following information:
    • the number of students and teachers you will have
    • the number of rooms you will need
    • the day and time you would prefer
    • the date when you would like to start
  • You may need to be flexible so have some alternatives that would be suitable for your community.

What to take to the meeting?

  • A copy of your Australian Business Number (ABN) and your contact details.
  • A copy of your relevant insurance.
  • A copy of the syllabus or teaching program you will be using.
  • A list of the staff who will be teaching at the school.

After the meeting

  • The school principal will need to discuss your request with other staff so allow him/her a few weeks to do this.
  • If the principal approves your community language school running from their school you will need to sign a Community use agreement.
  • If you receive funding from the NSW Community Languages Schools Program you will be able to use the school facilities for free otherwise the school may charge for use.
  • Use of school facilities outside of language classes will incur a fee.

Will I get the school I want?

  • Many schools already have agreements with other community groups and those agreements have to be honoured. This means that you may not get your first choice.
  • Community language schools have a high priority for use of school premises but not an absolute right. The school principal will make the final decision.

At the beginning of each school year you will need to enrol your students.

If you are interested in applying for a grant for funding there are certain requirements regarding student enrolment. These include:

  • be open to school students from Kindergarten to Year 12, regardless of language background.
  • have a minimum of 20 school-aged students enrolled. (Schools outside a metropolitan area with fewer than 20 students may be eligible for funding in some circumstances).
  • have students who attend for at least 70 per cent of lessons in Term 1 (per capita grant).

You must include information about attendance in your application. This means you must keep student records up to date and on file.

Good teachers help children achieve their best and help create an active, learning atmosphere that benefits students, parents and the wider community.

Recommended accreditations

A successful community language school should aim to have teachers who are trained to teach languages. Teachers can be paid or teach voluntary.

Your teachers should have:

  • professional qualifications in teaching from an Australian or overseas institution or
  • completed a teaching course from the Sydney Institute of Community Languages Education (SICLE). Every year, the Community Languages Teaching Program, a professional learning course designed for community languages teachers is offered by SICLE in partnership with the Community Languages Schools Program.

Your teachers may also enrol to undertake the Community Languages Teaching Program, in the same year you are applying for funding.

Find out more about the SICLE courses

Working with Children Checks

You will need to register your organisation online at the Office of the Children’s Guardian website. After you have registered, you will need to verify the status of a new staff member (paid or unpaid) to ensure they have a clearance to work with children.

If you are using a government school facility to run your community language school, you will also need to provide required documentation to the school principal.

Visit the Office of the Children's Guardian website for information and to apply for a Working with Children check or to register your organisation.

Every year your organisation will need to sign an assurance form (PDF 106.1KB) that declares that all your teachers have obtained a Working with Children Clearance.


Information about anaphylaxis can be found on the department's Health and physical care section.

It is advised that community languages schools undertake the e- training provided by Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA).

Ongoing professional development

We can help your teachers continue to improve their professional skills while they work. Workshops and courses are run regularly. This ensures your students enjoy a high-quality learning experience. Workshops and courses are run regularly. See the teacher resources section for more information.

The program guidelines (PDF 171.6KB) provide information about setting up a community languages school.


  • Teaching and learning

Business Unit:

  • Student Support and Specialist Programs
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