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

The enrolment categories designed to provide educational continuity for NSW residents travelling within Australia or temporarily overseas are closed to new enrolments due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The closure will be removed when

  • border travel restrictions are lifted from all Australian states and territories, and
  • state authorities are no longer recommending that non-essential travel be limited.

NSW residents with extraordinary circumstances should write to rde@det.nsw.edu.au seeking information about the documentation that would be required for an enrolment to be considered.

Principals must use the Distance Education Enrolment Procedures (PDF 677KB) 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 (PDF 677KB) 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.

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?

Please contact your local distance education school with the appropriate medical certificate provided by the treating specialist. The distance education school may be able to consider a temporary enrolment if isolation is clearly recommended for all members of your family. Independent advice may be sought by the department to confirm that distance education is the most appropriate educational provision for your children.

My children thrived during working from home. Before COVID-19 they had a complex condition that made each day difficult in their local school and they are now anxious about returning to school. Can we access distance education and continue learning from home.

It will be important to speak with your local school to let them know of your experiences and concerns. A return to regular school and learning routine will provide long term practical and social benefits to students that are not available by distance education. This is particularly relevant for students with additional needs that can be supported by a teacher in the face to face learning environment. Distance education is not be available under these circumstances.

The Premier has indicated that we can now travel throughout NSW. When can I access distance education to travel. Can I access this category now?

Short term enrolment in this category is not suitable due to the need to engage with each child and build a learning program based on their needs. The travelling provision in NSW distance education schools remains closed to new enrolments until such a time as the border travel restrictions are lifted from all Australian states.

Before considering any alternative education options for your child it is important to first discuss their needs with your local school principal to see what arrangements are in place or can be arranged to support your child.

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