Placement

PLEASE NOTE: The Placement Policy has changed since the beginning of the 2020 school year. All enrolment decisions made from the start of Term 2, 2020 should be made in accordance with the current placement policy as outlined below.

The Department's Placement Policy embeds the legal entitlement for students to enrol at their designated neighbourhood school, and to enrol at another school if there is sufficient accommodation.

All Victorian government schools must manage enrolments in accordance with this Placement Policy, except those schools where the Minister has approved specific entry criteria, being:

  • Select entry high schools
  • Special and special development schools
  • English Language Schools and Centres
  • Camp and outdoor schools
  • Hospital schools and teaching units
  • Distance schools
  • Community/alternative schools
  • Individual schools with entry criteria as approved by the Minister.

The Placement Policy applies to the placement of students at all year levels, from Prep to Year 12. Single-sex government schools are required to follow the Placement Policy, noting that only students of the requisite gender are eligible to apply.

The Regional Director has the authority to effect placement of a student.

Right to attend the designated neighbourhood school

Eligible children and young persons have the right to be admitted to their designated neighbourhood government school.

A student's designated neighbourhood school is generally the school that is nearest the student's permanent address as determined by the school zone. The website Findmyschool.vic.gov.au provides guidance on which school zone a student's permanent residence is located within. 

Attending a school that is not the student's designated neighbourhood school

Students are able to apply for a place at a school that is not their designated neighbourhood school.

All students who seek enrolment in a school outside of their designated neighbourhood school should be enrolled in that school, if there is sufficient capacity at the school to accommodate all students who apply, or if this request for enrolment aligns with the school's enrolment management plan (if they have one). 

Placement when there are insufficient places for all students who seek entry

Where there are insufficient places at a school for all students who seek entry, students are enrolled according to the Placement Policy's priority order of placement, which has five criteria.

In exceptional circumstances, a student may be enrolled in a school based on compassionate grounds. This is an overarching consideration and does not form part of the priority order of placement. Schools are permitted to assess and make a determination for exceptional circumstances applications on a case-by-case basis. 

Schools must ensure that all applicants eligible under a criterion have been offered a place before moving to consideration of the next. All students for whom the school is the designated neighbourhood school are guaranteed a place.

Priority order of placement

In circumstances when a school may not be able to accept all applications due to existing or future capacity concerns, schools must manage enrolment applications in accordance with the following priority order of placement:

  1. Students for whom the school is the designated neighbourhood school.
  2. Students with a sibling at the same permanent address who are attending the school at the same time.
  3. Where the Regional Director has restricted the enrolment, students who reside nearest the school.
  4. Students seeking enrolment on specific curriculum grounds.
  5. All other students in order of closeness of their home to the school

In exceptional circumstances, a student may be enrolled in a school based on compassionate grounds. This is an overarching consideration and does not form part of the priority order of placement. Schools are permitted to assess and make a determination for exceptional circumstances applications on a case-by-case basis. 

Designated neighbourhood school

Eligible children and young persons have the right to be admitted to their designated neighbourhood government school.

A student's designated neighbourhood school is generally the school that is nearest the student's permanent address as determined by the school zone. The website Findmyschool.vic.gov.au provides guidance on which school zone a student's permanent residence is located within.

Siblings

A sibling can be defined to broadly include step-siblings residing together at the same permanent address and students residing together at the same permanent address as part of statutory out-of-home-care arrangements, including foster care, kinship care and permanent care. Enrolment on sibling grounds may also be considered for students permanently residing together in the one residence as part of multiple family cohabitation. Students seeking enrolment on sibling grounds must be residing together at the same permanent address and must be attending the school at the same time.

There is an expectation that schools will enrol all older and younger siblings, unless otherwise agreed with the Regional Director. A school should only seek to restrict or limit enrolments of out of zone siblings if they consider there to be significant future or current capacity restraints (e.g. there is a concern that students within zone could not be accommodated in present or future years) and where they have agreed with the Regional Director. Any agreements between Schools and the Regional Director on enrolment restrictions for out of zone siblings must be reviewed annually.  

The sibling criteria applies to placement decisions at all year levels, from Prep to Year 12. 

For Year 7 applications, parents and carers can indicate on the Application for Year 7 Placement form if the student has an older sibling who resides at the same permanent residential address and who will also be enrolled at the school at the same time. 

Restricting enrolments

The Regional Director may restrict enrolments at a school through:

  • the application of a restricted zone and/or, 

  • restricting new enrolments at the school, including restriction of siblings

In determining the need for such a restriction, the following factors are considered:

  • demand for places from within and outside the school's zone

  • the school's site capacity

  • the school's built capacity

  • the effect on, and capacity at, surrounding schools 

If a school is seeking to restrict enrolments, the region should be contacted. The Regional Director notifies schools in writing if a restriction is being applied or modified.  All restrictions will be reviewed on an annual basis to ensure they are still required.

Curriculum grounds

In years Prep to 10 all Victorian government schools offer the Victorian Curriculum as set by the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority – therefore regardless of which government school they choose, parents can be confident that their child will learn the common set of knowledge and skills required by students for life-long learning, social development and active and informed citizenship. 

Within this broader curriculum, schools have the flexibility to focus on particular learning areas depending on the needs and interests of their community.  For example, within the languages learning area government schools have the flexibility to select which language(s) they offer in consultation with their local communities. 

Students seeking enrolment on curriculum grounds are considered only after the school has first ensured that all students eligible under the first three criteria of the placement policy have been accommodated.

Importantly, secondary schools are not able to make Year 7 placement offers, including those offers based on curriculum grounds, prior to the state-wide release of Year 7 placement offers in August each year.

If you are concerned that a government school is making Year 7 offers that are not in accordance with Year 6 to Year 7 state-wide timeline, please contact your regional office. see: Our Office Locations

Order of closeness of their home to the school

This criteria only applies to students who are seeking enrolment in a school other than their designated neighbourhood school, i.e. where their permanent address is outside of the school's zone. 

Exceptional circumstances – compassionate grounds

The Department recognises there may be some situations where, due to exceptional circumstances, a student may be unable to enrol in their designated neighbourhood school, or it may not be in the student's best interests to enrol in their designated neighbourhood school. In these exceptional circumstances, enrolment at another school may be sought on compassionate grounds.

In these instances, families must be able to clearly demonstrate the exceptional circumstances which they believe make an enrolment at their designated neighbourhood school unsuitable for their child or children, citing, for example, family violence or specific wellbeing, safety, physical health and/or mental health concerns. Importantly, this is not a comprehensive list of exceptional circumstances whereby a family may seek an enrolment on compassionate grounds; each application will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

The student will generally be offered a place at the school in next closest proximity to the student's permanent address or current address or location where relevant.

If seeking enrolment at a specific school that is not their designated neighbourhood school, families must be able to provide substantive evidence addressing why an enrolment at the specific school would best meet their child's circumstances.

When making an application to the Principal / Regional Director on compassionate grounds, schools and Regions can request that families provide further evidence to support their application, including, but not limited to:

  • legal documentation;
  • reports from allied health and/or medical professionals, Department of Health and Human Services Practitioners, Victoria Police, family violence services, court orders, etc.

Not all of these documents may be requested from families; they will be requested on a case-by case-basis. These documents may assist schools and regions in their decision making processing in determining if there are exceptional circumstances and whether enrolment should be considered on compassionate grounds. 

Instances of compassionate grounds are of a sensitive nature and if they relate to family violence, may pose risks to health and life. Family and student privacy will be maintained in these circumstances.

For more information, see: Schools' Privacy Policy

Appealing enrolment decisions

Parents/carers are able to appeal against a school's decision not to provide a placement. This can occur in relation to placements at Year 7, or placements at other year levels.

Appealing a Year 7 placement

In the case of appeals regarding Year 7 placements, there is a set date by which time the school must respond to parents / carers lodging an appeal, usually two to three weeks after the appeals period closes.

Appeals are considered by the school's placement committee and/or Principal, and the school's decision will be communicated to the parent or carer in writing. In assessing the appeal, the school will check to ensure compliance with the priority order of placement, and the processes for verifying permanent address, as appropriate.  Schools will assess and make a determination for appeals on compassionate grounds on a case-by-case basis. If the appeal at the school level is unsuccessful and parents/carers are not satisfied that their appeal has been adequately considered, they are able to escalate the appeal to the relevant Regional Director, by lodging an appeal in writing. Appeals to the Regional Director must be lodged by the set closing date (as advised in the statewide placement timeline and procedures document). 

Appeals to the Regional Director are considered by a panel of senior regional staff which then provides advice and a recommendation to the Regional Director who makes the final decision. This concludes the appeal process.

Appealing a placement at other year levels

In the first instance, parents or carers should lodge a written appeal with the school at which the student has been unsuccessful in gaining a placement.

If this appeal is unsuccessful and parents or carers are not satisfied that their appeal has been adequately considered, they are able to escalate the appeal to the relevant Regional Director.

Appeals to the Regional Director are considered using the criteria in the Placement Policy.

Regional office contact details and locations are on the Department's website, see: Our Office Locations

Determining permanent residence

Where demand for places exceeds supply at a Victorian government school due to the number of students who seek entry, Department policy on placement of students requires schools to enrol students in accordance with a priority order of placement, subject to any enrolment criteria specified by the Minister or delegate. Please refer to the Placement policy section of these guidelines for further information on the priority order of placement.

When implementing the priority order of placement, staff may be required to implement measures to verify information provided about the students' permanent residence prior to accepting enrolment applications.

Meaning of "permanent residence"

For the purpose of student enrolment in Victorian government schools, the Department considers permanent place of residence is the address at which a child permanently resides at the time of enrolment. If a child resides at multiple addresses, the child's 'permanent residence' is the address at which the child spends the majority of his/her weekdays.

If the child spends an equal amount of time at two addresses, both addresses will be considered the child's permanent address and the child will be entitled to enrol in the designated neighbourhood school for either address (or any other Victorian government school subject to entry criteria and capacity). The final choice of which school the child ultimately attends rests with the parents/carers or student if they are an adult or mature minor for the purpose of making enrolment decisions.

Evidence for demonstrating permanent residence

To assist schools in verifying a student's permanent residence when assessing enrolment applications, schools may request parents/carers to provide supporting documentation such as original or certified copies of rental agreements or unconditional contracts of sale, electoral roll confirmation, council rates notices or other official documentation that demonstrates permanent residence at that address such as a driver's license of health care card. Documents should show the same address and parent's/carer's name as recorded on the school enrolment application form.

This request may occur after the parent has submitted an Enrolment Application Form, if deemed necessary by the school. Information to parents/carers should clearly explain that the documentation is required to confirm that the student is eligible to enrol at the school on the basis that their permanent residence is within the school's zone. The school should also clearly communicate to parents/carers applying to enrol, that the enrolment application may not be accepted if the requested information/documentation is not provided.

Alternatively, the school may ask parents to complete a statutory declaration confirming they are living at the address and that the arrangement is genuine and intended to be permanent. Schools may also remind parents/carers that a person who makes a false declaration is liable to the penalties of perjury.

Schools may wish to consider adapting the following content for inclusion in enrolment policies and/or enrolment information provided to parents/carers:

To assist (INSERT SCHOOL NAME) in assessing your child's eligibility for enrolment, please include in your enrolment application original or certified copies of:

  1. Rental agreements or unconditional contracts of sale plus
  2. A copy of two of the following:
  • electoral enrolment confirmation
  • council rates notices
  • other official documentation that demonstrates permanent residency at that address such as a driver's license or health care card.

Documents should show the same address and parent's/carer's name as recorded on the school enrolment application form.

Optional: On request, you may also be required to complete a statutory declaration confirming the student is living in the address provided in the enrolment application and that the arrangement is genuine and intended to be permanent.

Note: Enrolment applications may not be successful if the requested documentation is not provided.

If a school has concerns about the duration of a rental agreement being provided as proof of permanent address, the school should consult with the family to ensure that the school has provided reasonable consideration to the family's living circumstances. For example, it is not acceptable to disregard a rental agreement that is shorter than 12 months from the time of enrolment if this accurately reflects a family's residential circumstances. 

Verification of permanent residence

Schools can make reasonable enquiries to verify permanent address information provided by parents/carers, such as:

  • Checking the electoral roll at an Australian Electoral Commission office or the Victorian Electoral Commission head office
  • Checking with a real estate agent
  • Checking whether the contact landline phone number provided is registered to the residence provided on the enrolment form
  • For a rental property which is a studio apartment or a one bedroom unit, checking whether there are any regulations/codes limiting the occupancy of these apartments to one person per apartment.

To satisfy privacy law requirements, schools should ensure parents/carers applying for enrolment are aware of the enquiries the school may make to verify the information provided about a student's permanent residence.

Schools may wish to consider adapting the following content for inclusion in their enrolment policy, enrolment information provided to parents/carers and/or for use on their enrolment application forms.

When assessing enrolment applications, (INSERT SCHOOL NAME) may make the following enquiries to verify the information provided about a student's permanent residence:

    • Checking the electoral roll at an Australian Electoral Commission office or the Victorian Electoral Commission head office
    • Checking with a real estate agent
    • Checking whether the contact landline phone number provided is registered to the residence provided on the enrolment form
    • For a rental property which is a studio apartment or a one bedroom unit, checking whether there are any regulations/codes limiting the occupancy of these apartments to one person per apartment.

Note: If, after reasonable enquiries, the Principal does not accept that the address provided on the enrolment application form is the genuine permanent residence of the student, the enrolment application may not be successful.

Note: The Department does not consider home inspections or surveillance to be reasonable forms of enquiry and does not support these practices.

Non-acceptance of address provided on Enrolment Application Form

If the Principal does not accept that the address provided on the enrolment application form (and any subsequent supporting documentation) is the genuine permanent residence of the student, the school may refuse the enrolment if the school is in a position where it is applying the priority order of placement due to demand for places exceeding supply.

The school should ensure reasons are provided to the parent/carer for not accepting the address and ensure the parent/carer is aware that they may appeal this decision (see Enrolment Appeals section of these guidelines).

Changes to the student's adress after an enrolment offer has been made

If, after a placement offer is made to the student, the student's permanent residence changes or it comes to light that the address provided on the application form was not the genuine permanent residence for the student, a school may only withdraw a placement offer in the following circumstances:

  • where, after the priority order of placement is applied to the correct address, a place is not available for the student; and
  • the new address is not within the designated neighbourhood area for the school; and
  • the placement offer and any subsequent material provided to the student and their parent/carer expressly states that the offer may be withdrawn prior to the first day of attendance if the student's permanent place of residence changes or the school becomes aware that the address provided on the application form was not the genuine permanent residence for the student.

Prior to withdrawing an offer of enrolment in the above circumstances, school staff should consider any safety or wellbeing issues relating to the student and should consult with the regional office or the Department's Legal Division.

Inability to provide evidence of permanent residence

Schools should ensure enrolment practices do not unfairly disadvantage students who are unable to provide proof of permanent address because of their individual circumstances. This is particularly relevant to students experiencing homelessness, family violence or recently arrived immigrants or refugees. In these cases, school staff should seek advice from their regional office before refusing an enrolment application on the basis that the student is unable to provide proof of permanent residence.

Enrolment management

Enrolment management is an important tool used by schools and regions to ensure that all students can attend their local school.; Strategies that support enrolment management include:

  • maintaining accurate and complete enrolment records and data, to facilitate enrolment planning
  • planning for an even distribution of students across all year levels while maintaining class size targets
  • considering your enrolment projections and ensuring that the starting cohort of enrolment numbers does not increase to the extent that the overall capacity of the school is exceeded for the life of the cohort
  • monitoring enrolment trends and subject/curriculum demands in the school
  • advising current and prospective parents about any limits on enrolment early

An enrolment management plan may be implemented by a school, with support from and in consultation with the regional office, when a school is required to manage enrolments in order to effectively manage or plan for current or future capacity.

Enrolment management plans can be used as a tool for managing the number of out of zone enrolments when a school is at capacity, or nearing capacity. This is done to ensure that all local students who seek entry can be accommodated within existing accommodation.

Schools seeking more advice or support in developing or implementing an enrolment management plan should contact their regional office.

Regional office contact details and locations are on the Department's website, see: Our Office Locations