Naming a School

From Term 1 2017, Victorian government and Catholic schools will use the new Victorian Curriculum F-10. Curriculum related information is currently being reviewed and may be subject to change.

For more information on the curriculum, see:
The Victorian Curriculum F–10 - VCAA

Purpose of this policy

To ensure schools meet the Department's school naming requirements.

Policy

Schools must follow the Department's school naming policy and process including that school names:

  • comply with the:
    • statutory provisions in the Geographic Place Names Act 1998
    • naming principles in the Naming rules for places in Victoria: Statutory requirements for naming roads, features and localities 2016
  • reflect the school’s educational and service provision
  • be discussed and determined at the local level and reflect community preference.

The formal school naming submission goes through a number of stages. Final approval is granted by the Minister for Education. Schools should allow sufficient time to complete the process, taking into account the comprehensive consultation process and operational matters such as branding and uniforms.  Schools wishing to introduce a new name at the start of a school year should consider beginning the process in Term 1 of the previous school year.  

Process overview

This table outlines the eight stage process for the naming and renaming of schools. Each stage is described in further detail in this topic.

Stage    Description
1 Selection and use of interim names (usually used for new school entities).
2 Select naming options that:
  • comply with statutory provisions and government policy
  • are unique.
3 Workshop possible names with the school community
4 Check suitability of the proposed name by consulting with the School Operations & Governance Unit, Regional Services Group (RSG). Following agreement, write to the region to seek agreement from the Regional Director to proceed to the formal consultation process.
5 Consult formally on the proposed school name.
6 Prepare a submission and forward it to the Regional Director.
7 Seek ministerial approval and gazettal of the school name via the endorsement process.
Note: The school name becomes official on the date of gazettal.
8 Promote and use the official school name.

Stage 1 – Interim school names (for new or merged school entities only)

If a new school is opening, or several schools are merging to create a new school entity, the school is required to adopt a working title for their school (‘interim name’) while they undertake the required consultation process for their official school name.

Depending on the circumstances, the interim name of a school may be specified by the Department or selected by the relevant school(s). Interim names must comply with statutory provisions and government policy (see Stage 2).

If a school is asked to select its own interim name, the school must check suitability of the name with the School Operations & Governance Unit:

Email: community.stakeholders@edumail.vic.gov.au
Tel: (03) 9637 3432
Fax: (03) 9637 2180

New schools should not operate with interim names for a period of more than six months after the school has opened, unless exceptional circumstances apply.

Stage 2 – Identify a school name (considerations and requirements)

Key considerations

The proposed school name:

Considerations - school naming options

This table outlines school naming options and considerations.

School naming option Considerations
Geographic elements Town/suburb names or proximity to a geographical feature may be used subject to the requirement that it be unique.
Street names A school should not be named after a frequently occurring street name in Victoria.
Traditional  Indigenous /Koorie place names This is subject to agreement from the relevant Indigenous/Koorie communities – consultation with these communities should be undertaken prior to public consultation on the proposed name(s), see: Principle (F) Naming rules for places in Victoria: Statutory requirements for naming roads, features and localities 2016
Commemorative names Commemorative names should:

Requirements and options - education and service provision descriptor

A proposed school name must accurately reflect the school’s educational and service provision.

Examples: Standard naming conventions include:

  • schools offering:
    • primary provision - Primary School
    • secondary provision - Secondary College or year level descriptors e.g. 7-12 College
    • both primary and secondary provision - year level descriptors e.g.  P-9 College, P-12 College
    • kindergarten services - may include K in the year level descriptor e.g. K-12 College or if offering secondary provision, College may be used without a year level descriptor
    • special education provision to students with:
      • a mild intellectual disability - Special School
      • moderate to profound intellectual disabilities - Special Developmental School.
    • Note: Schools specifically catering for students with a certain type of disability may wish to represent this provision in the school name e.g. deaf school, autism school. 
    • Schools offering more than one type of provision e.g. special and special development may wish to describe this dual mode by using specialist as their descriptor.

Stage 3 - Workshop possible names with school community

Schools should inform their school community about the pending name change/new name and seek their input into the new school name. This could include the following measures:

  • requesting naming suggestions from the community in school newsletters and/or the local newspaper
  • forming a sub-committee to decide on proposed names
  • having a sub-committee, school council and/or the school community to vote on proposed names.

It is the school’s responsibility to ensure the school community is engaged in the work- shopping process.

Stage 4 - Check suitability of proposed school name

So that schools undertake consultation with an appropriate proposed name, prior to proceeding to formal consultation schools:

  • must check the suitability of the proposed name with the School Operations & Governance Unit, RSG, email: community.stakeholders@edumail.vic.gov.au, Tel: (03) 9637 3432
  • having had the name checked with the School Operations & Governance Unit, write to the region seeking agreement to proceed to the formal consultation process from the Regional Director and/or the regional staff member responsible for school naming (verbally or in writing), see: Department's Regional Offices

Important:  When the Department provides advice on the suitability of a proposed name it should not be inferred during any subsequent consultation with key parties that the Department has approved the proposed name.

Stage 5 - Consult formally on the proposed school name

This table describes the key steps that schools are required to undertake during the formal consultation process for their proposed school name. Schools may develop individual campus names without consultation but many schools incorporate campus naming into the formal school naming consultation process.

Step    Description
1 Determine a consultation process that is transparent, meaningful and informative. Consider:
  • exhibiting and advertising as widely as possible, such as in the school newsletter and local newspaper
  • potential objections.
2 Identify the parties that will be affected by the name change, including:
  • the local council
  • all government and non-government schools in the local area
  • any government or non-government school across the State with a similar name (if applicable)
  • the local Koorie community (if applicable).
Note: To ensure that schools are easily identifiable by emergency services and the local community, it is preferable that school addresses contain a street number. If school campuses do not currently have street numbers allocated, liaise with the local council and request for street numbers to be assigned to each campus.
3 Consult with the school community and the identified affected parties (from Step 2) on the proposed school name by:
  • seeking feedback
  • inviting them to lodge any objections within a 30 day timeframe
  • explaining that if objections are not received by the nominated due date, it will be determined that no objection is held to the proposed naming or renaming.
(See: template consultation letter to be used for the identified affected parties)
4 Consider and address any objections and concerns at a local level. For advice and assistance, please contact the regional staff member responsible for school naming see: Regional Offices    Note: If an objection alleges that the proposed name does not comply with the Naming rules for places in Victoria: Statutory requirements for naming roads, features and localities 2016 the school's written response to the objector must outline:
  • how the objection has been considered 
  • why the school has decided to either:
    • proceed with the proposed name; or
    • refine, change or abandon the proposed name.
Note: In the instance where the school decides to retain the proposed name the letter must also inform the objector that they can appeal to the Registrar of Geographic Names within 30 days of the letter being sent.

Template consultation letter

(insert date)
(name)
(address block)

Dear
I am writing on behalf of the (insert original school name/s) to advise you of the intent to change the school name to (insert new school name/s).
(Insert any appropriate rationale for name change).
As part of the consultation process I would appreciate if you could respond in writing by (insert 30 day timeframe) if you have any objections to the proposed name change. If no response is received by the nominated due date, it will be determined that there is no objection.
If you wish to discuss this matter further please contact (insert contact name) on (insert phone number).

Yours sincerely
(insert signature block)

Stage 6 – Prepare school naming submission

Prepare a submission to the Regional Director for endorsement that includes:

  • the proposed school name (including proposed campus names) as it will appear in the Victorian Government Gazette and the Victorian Register of Geographic Names (VICNAMES)
  • a brief description of the following information:

Note: Evidence of the formal consultation should be attached to the submission. Examples of evidence may include:

  • copies of advertisements
  • invitation for public comment
  • example of the letter sent to affected parties
  • any objections received and how they were dealt with
  • relevant school council records.

Stage 7 - Obtaining endorsement of proposed school name

This table describes the endorsement process for school naming submissions.

Step    Who    Description
1 Regional Director Forwards the school naming submission and an endorsement letter to the Manager, School Operations & Governance Unit (Unit) to assess consistency with the school naming policy and process outlined above.
2 Unit Forwards the endorsed submission to the Registrar of Geographic Names (Registrar) for assessment and endorsement.
3 Registrar When the submission is assessed as:
  • compliant, provides a letter to Unit endorsing the submission
  • partially compliant, provides a letter to Unit detailing issues requiring further clarification to achieve endorsement
  • non-compliant, provides a letter to Unit:
    • rejecting the proposal, or
    • requesting further clarification.
  • Note:  If during the formal consultation a school received an objection/s to the proposed name and a letter was sent to the objector advising them that they can appeal to the Registrar of Geographic Names within 30 days, this period needs to lapse before the Registrar can assess the submission and any appeals that may be received.
4 Unit Once approved by the Registrar the Unit prepares a briefing for approval by the Minister for Education, who is the naming authority for schools.  This is accompanied by:
  • the naming submission
  • endorsements from the Regional Director and the Registrar.
5 Unit Forwards evidence of the Minister’s approval to the Registrar.
6 Registrar Arranges for the new school name to be published in the Victorian Government Gazette (Gazette) see Victorian Government Gazette Note: The effective date of the new school name is the date it is published in the Gazette. Once published in the Gazette the name is included in VICNAMES. Notifies the Unit and the school in writing.
7 Unit Notifies the regional office of gazettal and registration and ensures Department information systems are updated.

Stage 8 - Promote new school name

After the proposed name has been approved by the Minister for Education and published in the Gazette, the school must take appropriate measures to use and promote their official name.

To ensure that there is no confusion for emergency services and the local community, schools should:

  • ensure that signage at the school reflects the official school name
  • inform their school community of the official name (i.e. in the school newsletter)
  • use the official name on their school website / letterhead / publicity etc.

Related legislation

  • Geographic Place Names Act 1998