System registration frequently asked questions

The NSW Department of Education is responsible for demonstrating to the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) how NSW government schools meet NESA registration requirements. The registration process applies to the NSW government schooling system as a whole. While each government school contributes to system registration, individual schools are not registered.

What is the registration process for the NSW government schooling system?

As part of the registration process for the NSW government schooling system, NESA undertakes a small number of random inspections and oversees the Department of Education's internal quality assurance process for curiculum and policy monitoring of a representative sample of schools.

The department's curriculum and policy monitoring process and NESA's random inspections of government schools are related to the registration requirements outlined in section 4 of NESA’s Registration Process for the NSW Government Schooling System Manual. The manual can be found at NESA's website.

Visit cyclical monitoring and random inspections of government schools for a comparison of the two types of system monitoring of schools’ policy compliance.

How do government schools ensure policy compliance?

All government schools must comply with department policies, procedures and processes, including those related to registration requirements. In particular, schools are required to:

  • have documented procedures, practices and processes in place
  • comply with Audit directorate and School Infrastructure NSW procedures and inspections.

What are NESA’s registration requirements?

NESA’s registration requirements are outlined in section 4 of the Registration Process for the NSW Government Schooling System Manual. The requirements are grouped under the following 10 policy areas:

4.1 teaching staff

4.2 facilities

4.3 premises

4.4 safe and supportive environment

4.5 discipline of students

4.6 safety and welfare of students in boarding facilities

4.7 school curriculum

4.8 attendance

4.9 school annual reporting

4.10 management and operation

What is curriculum monitoring?

Each year, NESA undertakes cyclical monitoring of a sample of government schools observing implementation of a small subset of the requirements listed in section 4 of the NESA registration manual.

NESA’s cyclical monitoring may include, but are not limited to:

  • observation of the department’s processes for monitoring curriculum compliance, involving curriculum requirements in one common key learning area monitored in all schools
  • in-school observation of School Infrastructure NSW processes for collaborating with principals to prioritise repairs and enact required maintenance identified through the previous year’s condition assessment
  • in-school observation of Audit directorate processes for assessing compliance in child protection, student attendance and work health and safety (WHS)
  • in-school observation of the external validation process

How are sample schools chosen for curriculum monitoring and when are they notified?

Schools are selected on the basis of being proportionate to and representative of the diversity of schools in the system according to specified criteria and characteristics. Schools are selected in relation to years of schooling, location and size, type of school and risk-based factors.

The department notifies all participating schools and Directors, Educational Leadership that they have been selected to participate in curriculum monitoring. Schools involved in curriculum monitoring are informed in Term 1.

Schools engaged in external validation will not be selected for curriculum monitoring in the same term (or in that year, wherever possible).

Visit NESA’s webpage on the process and criteria for the annual selection of the sample of government schools for further information.

What support is provided to schools involved in curriculum monitoring?

The department provides selected schools and Directors, Educational Leadership with support that addresses the small subset of requirements. Schools can seek further clarification and/or support by contacting High Performance 02 7814 3853.

While the department expects all schools to comply with departmental policies, procedures and processes, the NESA observation is unlikely to require evidence for matters other than the small sample of requirements identified for curriculum monitoring in a particular year.

Are schools required to prepare evidence on all requirements in the NESA manual?

No. The department does not require schools to prepare evidence on all requirements in the NESA registration manual. If required, schools will be notified about the type of evidence they need to provide.

Are all schools expected to provide work samples for every student in every class?

No. For the purpose of curriculum monitoring, a minimum of three work samples, representative of student assessment is sufficient. A sample of a student workbook should also be provided to demonstrate alignment between the workbook, learning program, scope and sequence and assessment. It is important that schools have clear process and structures for discussion about teaching, learning and assessment using work samples as they assist in demonstrating a shared understanding of consistent teacher judgement.

Is there an expectation that learning programs will all be the same?

No. Each school is unique in how they meet the learning needs of their students. Schools have flexibility in how they deliver learning programs, for example, through integrated learning programs (STEM, STEAM, etc.), provided that they are able to demonstrate that the minimum mandatory hours of each of the key learning areas have been met. Learning programs are based on NESA syllabuses and are to address each learning area in each year of schooling.

What are random inspections?

Each year, NESA selects a small number of schools for random inspections to monitor compliance in relation to a very small subset of requirements in section 4 of the NESA registration manual. NESA generally conducts the inspections from the end of Term 1 through to the end of Term 3.

NESA inspectors contact the randomly selected schools and then provide written notice about the time and nature of the inspection, which typically occurs four working days after the call. NESA also notifies the Director, High Performance who informs the relevant Director, Educational Leadership.

Schools that are already part of the NESA curriculum monitoring program are excluded from the random selection process, as are schools that are undergoing external validation in the same term (or in that year, wherever possible).

NESA inspects 18 randomly selected government schools to assess their compliance in relation to the requirements in either Strand A (NESA annual priorities) or Strand B (quality of student learning).

Visit the NESA webpage on random inspections for further information.

What support is provided to randomly selected schools?

The department has prepared support materials on the Strand A and Strand B inspections. This information is updated yearly to reflect NESA priorities. The department expects that schools already have evidence for both strands that can be presented during an inspection.

Should all schools prepare for a random inspection?

No. The department does not expect schools to prepare for random inspections.  NESA considers the evidentiary materials to be made available at the inspection are those that could reasonably be expected to be available on a day-to-day basis at any school, and are consistent with the system’s policies, procedures and expectations.

What information does the department give NESA as part of the registration process?

In addition to curriculum monitoring and random inspections, the department provides a range of centrally-held information to NESA, as outlined in section 3.1 of the Registration Process for the NSW Government Schooling System Manual.

How is the department reducing the workload of the registration process on schools?

The department has introduced curriculum network meetings, following the successful 2018 pilot, with principals, Directors Educational Leadership and NESA inspectors to replace the individual cyclical monitoring visits by NESA inspectors.

The network meetings are designed to reduce the workload on schools and Directors, Educational Leadership with minimal disruption to schools involved.

In addition, NESA inspectors will observe visits by School Infrastructure NSW and Audit directorate staff to a small number of schools in Terms 2 and 3 as part of the cyclical monitoring program. These visits replace separate site inspections by both NESA and the department.

What happens if NESA raises an issue about school compliance with registration requirements?

NESA focuses on NSW government schools’ compliance with registration requirements as a system. The department is responsible for responding to any systemic issues and makes changes to policies, procedures, practices and processes, where necessary.

The department provides schools with appropriate support so they can comply with any identified systemic compliance issues related to the NESA registration requirements.

At the local level, Directors, Educational Leadership are responsible for addressing any identified concerns in individual schools in their principal network.

Further support

School can email or contact High Performance on 02 7814 3853.

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