Guidance for school attendance officers who have received a referral, made enquiries and believe a child is not enrolled in school or being home schooled.
A school enrolment notice is sent to parents or guardians if an attendance officer has received a referral, made enquiries, and believes a child is not enrolled in school or being home schooled.
Send a school enrolment notice
Before sending a school enrolment notice, an attendance officer must have made reasonable enquiries and be satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to believe:
a child is of compulsory school age, and
not enrolled at a registered school at the time of making the enquiries, or
not registered for home schooling at the time of making the enquiries.
These requirements are set out in the Education and Training Reform Act 2006.
A template for a school enrolment notice is mandated in the
Education and Training Reform (School Attendance) Regulations 2013.
An enrolment notice should be accompanied by information on how to enrol at school and how to register for home schooling, see:
How to enrol your child in school or register for home schooling (docx - 124.9kb).
If it's known or suspected the recipients of the enrolment notice have a language background other than English, the notice should be provided in their first language. Forms are available in Vietnamese, Arabic, Cantonese, Turkish and Mandarin.
If the notice is not available in the language required, contact the Department on
email@example.com or 03 9637 3179.
Officers and their delegates must keep file notes of any communications with schools and parents. These file notes should be signed and dated.
When sending a school enrolment notice the officer should ensure:
- all fields are complete
- the document is legible
- names are correct (of both the child and the parent)
- address details are correct
- all dates, including birth dates and dates of non-attendance are correct
- the notice is signed and dated
- any relevant evidence is attached to the notice
- any available fact sheets that may be of use to the recipient are attached to the notice
- copies of the notice and related documents are sent to the Director, Student Inclusion and Engagement Division in the Department's central office.
Assess the response
A parent must reply to the enrolment notice by the due date, which should be no less than 21 days after it was issued. The parent must state:
- that the child has been enrolled or conditionally enrolled at a registered school or has been registered for home schooling, or
- a reasonable excuse as to why the child is not enrolled in a registered school or registered for home schooling
- that the parent is unable to provide a reason because the parent does not have parental responsibility for enrolling the child in school.
If the response is inadequate, the officer may consider contacting the parent to get more information and documentation.
If there's no response or the response is completely inadequate or unreasonable the officer may consider issuing an official warning or an infringement notice. In making this decision, the officer must operate within the code of conduct.
If the parent responds with details of the child’s enrolment in school
The officer should confirm the enrolment details with the principal. If the enrolment is confirmed, the principal should be advised to monitor the student’s attendance. The parent should then be reminded of the requirement that the child attends school at all times it is open for instruction.
If attendance issues are ongoing, the principal should refer to the procedures outlined in the attendance guidelines and, if considered appropriate, make a referral back to the attendance officer.
Where, to complete enrolment, a school requires authorisation from both parents and consent from one parent has not been obtained, the parent who has taken all steps to enrol the child is deemed to have responded sufficiently to the enrolment notice. The attendance officer could then send a new enrolment notice to the parent who has withheld consent.
If the parent responds stating the child is registered for home schooling
The parent should attach a copy of the registration confirmation from the VRQA. If no confirmation is attached, the officer should confirm the details of the registration with the VRQA.
The officer should notify the parent that they have complied with the enrolment notice, and remind the parent that they must also ensure the child receives regular and efficient instruction in accordance with VRQA requirements.
If the parent responds with a reasonable excuse
If the response is received within the required time and the officer determines the parent has provided a reasonable excuse, they should send a letter to the parent confirming they have met their obligations.
If the parent responds without a reasonable excuse
If the response is received within the required time but the officer determines the parent has not provided a reasonable excuse, the officer then has to decide on appropriate action. This may include issuing an official warning or an infringement notice.
If the parent responds stating they do not have parental responsibility for the child’s enrolment at school
When a parent (parent A) responds to an enrolment notice to the effect that they do not have parental responsibility for the child’s enrolment, they may nominate another parent (parent B) who does have parental responsibility for the child’s enrolment.
In this situation, the officer should send a:
- letter to parent A confirming receipt of their response
- new enrolment notice to parent B (if details provided).
If parent B re-nominates the parent A, the officer should attempt to gather more information (for example copies of court orders).
If, based on further information received, the officer has reason to believe one or more of the parents does have parental responsibility for the child’s enrolment, they could re-send the enrolment notice to the parent they believe does have parental responsibility.
The letter should advise that:
- their nomination was not accepted, and
- the parent is required to respond to the notice giving details that the child has been enrolled at school or with an explanation why the child is not enrolled, or issue court proceedings against the parent who has provided false information in response to a school enrolment notice.
If the parent doesn't respond
If the parent does not respond within the required time then they have committed an offence. In these cases, officers should make contact by phone or email to confirm the parent has received the notice, or there are exceptional circumstances which prevented them from responding.
The officer may wish to refer the parent to appropriate external agencies who may be able to provide support and assistance to the parent. In these situations, it may be appropriate to re-visit enrolment when the circumstances have changed.
If there are no exceptional circumstances, the officer will need to decide what further action to take. One option is to issue an official warning or an infringement notice. For guidance in making this decision, see:
Decision to issue an official warning or an infringement notice.