Distance education

Distance education is an equity program for NSW students who are geographically isolated or whose individual circumstances prevent them from regularly attending school.

Enrolling in distance education for travel

With the easing of travel restrictions for NSW residents, enrolment in category 2.3 Students travelling within Australia is open to new enrolments from the start of the 2021 school year.

While travel restrictions have been eased, the department will continue to be guided by advice from NSW Health in relation COVID-19. This advice may change at short notice and impact our capacity to offer enrolment in this category.

Enrolments in category 2.4 Students temporarily resident or travelling overseas are closed in line with the current international travel ban.

Enrolment in category 2.4 for travel to countries declared by the Australian Government as green zones will be permitted in line with the rules associated with that travel.

Extraordinary circumstances enrolments may be considered in distance education for students planning to travel for a short period of 3-6 months if they have evidence of a return date to NSW with appropriate travel approval from the Australian Government.

To be considered, the following criteria must be met:

  • travel is as part of the response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including the provision of aid
  • travel is for your business/employer
  • travelling to receive urgent medical treatment that is not available in Australia
  • travelling on compassionate or humanitarian grounds
  • travel is in the national interest.

Please contact the Rural and Distance Education Office or +61 2 6334 8070 to seek further advice under these circumstances.

Principals must use the Distance Education Enrolment Procedures to determine a student's eligibility to enrol in a distance education program.

It is a requirement that a parent or approved supervisor is available to meet child care and protection requirements, as well as support the child complete the learning programs developed by the distance education school.

All distance education enrolments are reviewed annually to ensure students are meeting standards of engagement and participation to satisfy attendance requirements.

Distance education is not home schooling. For information about home schooling you can visit NESA.

Full-time enrolment

Full-time enrolment in distance education is available for students from preschool to Year 12. it is available on a continuing basis or as a temporary provision. Categories for full-time enrolment include:

  • geographic isolation
  • students travelling within Australia
  • students temporarily resident or travelling overseas
  • students with a medical condition
  • pregnant students/young parents
  • vocationally talented students
  • students with additional learning and support needs
  • students with additional learning and support needs temporarily enrolled to assist transition back to school, further education or employment
  • students in extraordinary circumstances
  • students affiliated with the national school for travelling show children.

Single course enrolment

Single course enrolment is available for students in Years 9 to 12 when the home school cannot provide the required breadth and flexibility of curriculum. Generally this is available on a quota basis determined by the home school's enrolments. See the Distance Education Enrolment Procedures for details.

  • Home schools must provide required resources such as textbooks, phone, computer, internet and videoconferencing access as well as supervision and a suitable and safe learning space.

Supervisor support resources

Resources are developed and provided by distance education schools to support student supervisors. For access to additional resources, visit the Distance Education Supervisor Resources page.

A common resource to support distance education supervisors is available online to support enrolments at any NSW Department of Education distance education centre.

Distance education preschool

Distance education preschool is a state-wide service that caters for geographically isolated children who cannot access other early childhood education services. The educational programs are designed to deliver learning activities both online and offline, in the year before school and to support a smooth transition to the child’s closest school.

The provision provides educational experiences for students across NSW and operates from Dubbo School of Distance Education and Broken Hill School of the Air.

In assessing a preschool child’s eligibility for enrolment in distance education, principals will take into account the distance from the applicant’s home to any local children’s services, including community based preschools, mobile children’s services and/or long day care.

See the Distance Education Enrolment Procedures for details.

Frequently asked questions for parents

A member of my family has a compromised immune condition. My medical specialist has indicated that my children are safe to attend school. For peace of mind I would like all my children to transfer to distance education. Would this be possible?

We would encourage you to send your children to school. Under the Department’s attendance guidelines your child will be marked as absent if they do not return to school. Your children’s teachers are best placed to continue to support continuity of learning. All school activities and operations will be in line with Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) as applicable. Distance education is not available under these conditions. If you have concerns please discuss your child’s needs with your local school principal to see what arrangements are in place or can be arranged to support your child.

The medical specialist treating a family member has indicated that all members of our family must limit community interaction and practice increased levels of hygiene and social distancing. The specialist can provide a certificate outlining these conditions clearly stating that all family members must continue to practice social isolation. Can I enrol in a NSW Government Distance Education School?

The Department has worked closely with NSW Health to develop a framework for COVID-safe school operations.

COVID safe return to school plans

In the first instance, please speak with your school's principal about the support provided within your current school. If they are unable to support you, they may seek further advice about possible support options.

If your specialist has provided an instruction or recommendation that you and all family members must practice increased isolation and that your family members should not attend school, you may be eligible for distance education and can contact rde@det.nsw.edu.au for further information.

Return to top of page Back to top