How to choose a school and enrol

This page includes the steps to choose a school and enrol your child.

1. Think about your family's needs

Ask yourself these questions:

  • How far do you want to travel and is the school reasonably close to home or work?
  • Will the school be able to cater for your child’s needs and interests?
  • What facilities do they offer and are you comfortable with the ‘feel’ of the school?
  • Will the teachers and the school curriculum support your child’s development, including social, emotional, physical and cognitive needs?
  • Does the school’s policy on homework and discipline reflect your own values and expectations?
  • Does the school work in partnership with families?
  • If your child has a disability, do you live in an area where you can get support with transport?

2. Search for schools

You can search for government schools at findmyschool.vic.gov.au

Your child will usually go to the government school closest to where you live.

You can also choose to send your child to a:

  • different government school if they have places available
  • a specialist school that teaches students with additional needs, or specialises in a subject
  • Catholic or independent school.

Learn about the different types of school and how school zones work.

3. Visit your local school

Visit your local school and any others you're considering before you enrol your child. Contact them before your child is due to start to allow time to visit a number of prospective schools.

Staff can provide tours, classroom visits and information about their school. Most schools welcome enquiries and will organise a time for you and your child to visit.

Many schools also run an orientation day in early December. These days let you meet teachers and see the classrooms.

If they live in the area, family and friends can also be a good source of information about what a school is like.

Consider asking these questions:

  • Are there places available?
  • What are the fees? Are there any other costs above these fees?
  • What educational programs are offered?
  • What are the school’s values?
  • How does the school support children with additional needs?
  • What is the process if my child is unwell, upset, or unsettled?

4. Learn when to enrol

First, learn when you need to submit an application:

When to enrol in primary school

To start primary school your child will need to turn five years old by 30 April in the year that they start school.

Your child must be at school in the year that they turn six years of age. This is the compulsory school starting age.

You can enrol your child in a Victorian government primary school at any time during the year. It’s good to plan ahead: many Victorian government primary schools start taking enrolments as early as May the year before your child is due to start school.

When to enrol in secondary school

Read more about the steps in moving from primary to secondary school.

If you need to enrol at a different time, contact the secondary school.

It's the law that your child is enrolled in school between the ages of six and 17. Or they can be home schooled.

5. Submit an application

Contact the school for an enrolment form. You will also need to give important information about your child, including:

  • evidence of your child’s date of birth (birth certificate, or, if they were not born in Australia, a passport or travel document such as a visa)
  • your contact, phone and address details, and that of any other parent, guardian and/or carer
  • names and contact details of emergency contacts
  • doctor’s and dentist’s names and phone numbers
  • Immunisation Status Certificate
  • health and welfare information
  • information about the languages your child speaks and hears at home
  • details of any parenting orders or legal matters to do with the care or safety of your child (service providers are obliged to keep your information private)
  • if your child will be attending out of hours school care. If they are, a separate enrolment and bookings will need to be made for the days they will attend
  • if you have concerns about your child’s enrolment, you can make a friendly phone call to follow up.

If you need an interpreter to help fill out the enrolment form, the school staff can help organise this for you.

Health questionnaire

When your child starts primary school the school will ask you to fill in the school entrant health questionnaire.

Some of the questions are about your child's vision. You will be asked if your child has had their vision screened: either the Melbourne initial screening test or a vision screening performed by your doctor.

6. If your child has a disability

You have the option to enrol your child in a government specialist school for students with a disability. These schools support students with:

  • an intellectual disability
  • autism
  • physical disability
  • hearing impairment.

Specialist schools teach students from kindergarten to Year 12. Students must meet the school's enrolment criteria.

Choosing a specialist school

It is important to remember that your child has the right to attend their designated neighbourhood school. They do not have to go to a specialist school.

You can also enrol your child at a school outside of your designated neighbourhood zone as long as the school:

  • has enough space
  • does not have any other type of specialist enrolment criteria.

It's up to you to choose which school your child will go to.

All government schools must make reasonable adjustments for students with disabilities.

Enrolling in a specialist school

You can search for specialist schools near you at findmyschool.vic.gov.au

The website includes a list of specialist schools near your address, the main disability they support and contact details. The main disability a school supports is called 'specialisation'. The specialisation is a guide only.

Contact your chosen school for their enrolment criteria and process.

You can also contact one of our regional offices to talk about flexible learning arrangements. Arrangements can include your child enrolling at:

  • both a specialist school and your designated neighbourhood school
  • another school of choice.

Zones for specialist schools

Specialist schools do not have enrolment zones. Contact your chosen school for their enrolment criteria.

Specialist schools do have designated transport areas. If you live in these areas, you may be able to get help with transporting your child to and from school.

Learn more about getting to and from school for students with a disability. You can also search for designated transport areas near you.

Inclusive education

Learn more about inclusive education in government schools.

7. Enrolment appeals

If a school decides not to accept your enrolment, you can appeal. This situation can happen if you request to enrol at a school outside of your designated neighbourhood zone, and the school does not have enough places.

For Year 7 appeals, there's a separate process. Learn about moving from primary to secondary school.

For other year levels, you should lodge a written appeal with the school.

If your appeal is not successful, you can escalate it to a Regional Director. Find your closest regional office for contact information.

The Regional Director will consider the appeal according to the Placement Policy.

Get advice

If you have questions, speak to your child's school.

You can also read tips for starting school.