Starting school is an important milestone for every child and family but when your child has a disability or developmental delay, be prepared by planning one to two years ahead of time. If the school will need building modifications to accommodate your child, starts talking to them two years ahead. If no building modifications are needed, submit your enrolment form in April the year before. This gives your family and the school enough time to prepare all the details before the summer break. Read our handy tips for more suggestions about the timeline to get ready for school enrolment.
We talked with Julie Cowmeadow from Plumtree and here she answers 7 common questions to get you started for a successful school transition.
- Is my child ready/eligible for school?
There is no right or wrong answer here as it is really is specific to each individual child and family. It is compulsory for children to be in school by their 6th birthday however, children may start kindergarten at the beginning of the year should they turn 5 on/or before the 31st of July. You may request for a delayed school entry if your child’s birthday is on/or after October. We recommend that you discuss this with your early childhood education setting as well because not all early childhood centres accommodate children who have had their 6th birthday and this may play a part in making your decision.
You can find more information on when to start your child at school at the NSW Government- Education website
- Where do I enrol my child for school?
All children have a right to attend their local public school and all enrolments for a public school place should start at your local school.
You can find your local school through this school finder.
- What happens if I want my child to go to an out of area school?
Sometimes it is possible to enrol in an out of area school but you have to go directly to that school and apply. Please note that they do not have to accept your enrolment, as out of area enrolment is a legitimate reason to reject an enrolment application. However, sometimes public schools can accept out of area enrolments so it is worth a try. In this situation, we suggest you give clear written reasons to the school along with your application. For example, the school is close to extended family support, extended family members are already enrolled at the school, or you are currently looking for permanent housing in the area. Providing reasons will help to build your case. Out of area applications are often considered after the school complete and process all their initial applications so do bear in mind that you may not have a definitive answer until October or November.
- If my child has additional needs, is there a different enrolment process?
No. All children in NSW Australia enrol at the local public school as the first step. This is still the case even if you would like to enrol your child in a support class, which may be located in another school. Once you have enrolled, the next step is to speak to your local school about your child’s needs, as they will help to apply for additional support. This will involve meeting with the school and filling in some application forms that the head office of the Department of Education will consider. Depending upon the type of support requested, your application form may be reviewed by a panel who will allocate an appropriate school placement for your child’s.
- What information would the school require if my child has additional needs?
The school requires an up to date developmental assessment report, one that is not more than 12-18 months old. It is important to remember that the information in the assessment report will guide the amount of support your child will receive. That is why it is important to have a recent developmental assessment. This will give the people reviewing your application the information they need to allocate support for your child. You may also include recent therapy reports if they provide information that will help the school to understand your child’s everyday needs.
- What do I need to do if I want to enrol my child into a support class?
If you want to request a support class, it is important to submit your enrolment as soon as possible. This allows processing of your application to be completed in time for it to be considered by the Department of Education panel, who meet in Term 3. This panel meets to allocate children to support classes across different schools. By following this time frame, your child will be allocated a school placement in a support class before the end of the year. This means that you will have enough time to organise the other details that are important for a successful transition to school.
- I am not sure where I will be living next year, how do I enrol?
Apply to your current local school and when your living arrangements change you can update your address. This way your child is already enrolled in the system making the transfer a seamless process.
Please see our calendar for possible School Readiness or School Transition events