Proposed changes to school enrolment are bad policy

BRIGHTON Council has described proposed changes to school enrolment procedures as a bad policy that will reduce choices for students and families.

The Department of Education is poised to make changes to the enrolment of students in out of area schools with the details published in a draft procedure in June. Brighton Council says if implemented the procedure represents a serious change that will affect many families in the municipality.

Mayor Tony Foster said families should be able to choose where their children are educated.

“The current Education Act provides parents with this choice, provided that their desired school has room, however the Department is now proposing to make that much more difficult,” Cr Foster said.

“In Council’s view the proposed changes to the enrolment procedures diminish choice and are unduly bureaucratic and time consuming.

“At present if a parent wishes to enrol a child in a government school other than the designated home area school the parent contacts their preferred school to seek an enrolment.  This will be granted if there is room at that school.

“The new procedure for enrolment in out of area schools is much more complicated and onerous.”

Under the draft, the parent must firstly discuss options with the principal of the home area school.  The parent will then meet with the receiving school principal who will decide whether or not to support the enrolment.  If the principal does accept the out of home area school enrolment, they must obtain the agreement of Education Department general manager.  If the enrolment is not accepted the parent may formally appeal to the general manager.

Cr Foster said the policy appears based on bureaucracy rather than on student educational and emotional needs and importantly, on freedom of choice.

“No one has properly explained the need to change the existing policy or outlined how it will improve education outcomes,” he said.

“But it has the potential to disadvantage families and students and unnecessarily upset many people who, for valid reasons, want to send their children to schools outside their areas but will be forced to jump through bureaucratic hoops to do so.

“The policy is open for public consultation and submissions until the end of August and I urge parents to make their views known,” Cr Foster said.

Anyone wanting to discuss or comment on the proposed changes should contact their relevant school association or Brighton Council.