Enrolling newly arrived LBOTE students
Enrolment is the school’s first opportunity to welcome newly arrived LBOTE students and their families and offer a positive experience so they feel safe and connected to their new community. For some students from a refugee background, enrolling in school in Australia is their first experience of school.
The needs of newly arrived LBOTE students and their families should be assessed at enrolment to ensure they may be appropriately supported at school. It may be helpful if a nominated staff member, such as an EAL/D teacher or member of the school welfare team, helps with enrolment to ensure that relevant information is collected and each student’s needs can be assessed. This may happen over a period of time.
Steps for enrolling newly arrived LBOTE students are provided below.
It is important to first establish whether an interpreter is required to communicate with students and families. If immediate interpreting is needed, ring the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) on 131 450. This service is free for schools and is useful to determine preferred language for communication and to set up an enrolment interview.
Interpreters can be organised for the enrolment interview with parents/carers. To book and onsite interpreter or arrange for a phone interview, see Interpreting and translations.
The role of school administrative staff is very important in making students and their parents/carers feel welcome. Staff in the front office are often the first point of contact between the student, their family and the school – the way they respond during enrolment may determine whether the new students and their families will see the school as a friendly, helpful place or a place where people are too busy to help.
Multilingual signs and graphics in the front office help make the office a welcoming environment. The last page of the department's Calendar for Cultural Diversity may provide a useful starting point for generating these signs.
Conduct an enrolment interview in a quiet and private space where families can talk about confidential matters. Organise an interpreter if required. If using an onsite interpreter, ensure that you:
- Speak directly to the parent/carer, not the interpreter
- Keep statements short
- Pause to allow for interpretation
- Ask interpreter to interpret everything that is said
- Ask for feedback to ensure understanding
- Ensure confidentiality is maintained.
Make contact with appropriate staff to arrange an assessment of the student’s strengths, interests, English language and learning support needs. If the student has a report from a previous school, the report should be passed on to the appropriate staff members prior to this interview and assessment.
If the student enrolling is from a refugee background, the school counsellor should be informed and, if possible, attend the enrolment interview.
Information about each student’s level of English language proficiency (ELP), prior education and experiences and family situation will assist the school to understand and support their language, academic and wellbeing needs.
It is important to identify whether the student needs support learning English and any additional learning or wellbeing support that may be required. An EAL/D teacher, if available, should assess the student's English language proficiency.
If the students have attended another school, either a primary school or an Intensive English Centre (IEC) or Intensive English High School (IEHS), valuable information will be included in the primary school or IEC/IEHS Exit report. Important information and insights can also be gained by talking to the students and their parents or carers during the enrolment interview.
Information about the student’s language background, visa class and subclass and EAL/D phase should be recorded on the Enrolment Registration (ERN) system. Information collected in the enrolment interview and initial assessments can be recorded in a Student Learning Plan. Templates to assist with this process can be found on the department's Personalised learning webpage.
Inform other staff in the school about the new student(s), including their strengths, interests, wellbeing and learning needs. Identify students who need additional orientation and transition.
Plan and deliver the Welcome Program or similar orientation program.