Victorian government policy states that every child has the right to attend their designated local government school – the school for which they are ‘zoned’.
On this page:
- Your child’s designated local school
- Other government schools
- Part-time attendance, dual enrolment and specialist units
Your child’s designated local school
There are many reasons why many families choose their designated local mainstream school, including because the family has other children at the school, or because going to the local school strengthens their child’s and family’s connections in their neighbourhood community.
Students must not be refused enrolment in their designated mainstream school because they have a disability, or because they might not meet the guidelines for additional funded support under the Program for Students with a Disability.
Your child’s designated school is usually the school closest to home, except for those schools that have restricted enrolment, as approved by DET.
- Find out about your designated schools from your local DET regional office.
“We considered a move to special school for Jay’s secondary years, but chose a mainstream secondary school to meet his academic needs, going with the advice of therapists and the paediatrician. Jay wasn’t enrolled until November the year before he started, so it was a challenge to get all the rooms modified by start of the school year. Most of the school was already wheelchair accessible. The school was great at getting the smaller modifications done quickly but the bigger ones have taken some time. Jay is driven to and from school by carers who assist him to get ready in the mornings and provide support after school as well.
The school put a lot of thought into selecting his locker, which is at the end of the row so there is space for him to move and near an alcove where his scooter is stored. At school he mostly gets around by pushing himself in his wheelchair. The school has organised a roster of three integration aides. Jay went on the music camp and the Year 7 camp last year. It was always assumed by the school that he would go. We have been working together through some issues but overall, the school staff have been very keen to support Jay and he is really happy.” – Parent of a student a mainstream secondary school
Other government schools
Families might choose to apply to a government school other than their designated school for many reasons, including because of its educational philosophy, its accessibility, or its approach to working with students with a disability. Some government schools, for example, have alternative educational approaches or streams that can work well for some students with a disability. There are also a number of small government community schools that offer alternative approaches to most ‘mainstream’ government schools. Contact your local DET regional office to find out more.
You can request a place in any government school, although schools must first offer places to children within their zone. The usual priorities for enrolling students in government schools are:
- Students for whom the school is the designated neighbourhood school.
- Students with a sibling at the same permanent address who are attending the school at the same time.
- Where the regional director has restricted the enrolment, students who reside nearest the school.
- Students seeking enrolment on specific curriculum grounds.
- All other students in order of closeness of their home to the school.
- In exceptional circumstances, compassionate grounds.
DET policy states that the principal decides whether to offer your child a place if you live outside the school’s zone, based on student numbers and the school’s particular enrolment policy. Contact a school directly or the nearest DET regional office for information about their enrolment policy.
Your child cannot be refused enrolment solely because they have a disability, or because of ineligibility for supplementary funded support. The Disability Standards for Education say that when deciding whether to offer a place, schools must consider prospective students with a disability in the same way as other students.
If a school offers a place to your child, the law and DET policy requires this offer to be made on the basis that ‘reasonable adjustments’ will be made to accommodate your child’s needs. The school should discuss with you what this would mean, to help you decide whether to accept the offer. The same resources are available to schools to support students with a disability who live outside the school’s zone as those who live within it.
“I like that the school was already wheelchair accessible. The teachers are nice and everyone is friendly. I am into technology and we are getting interactive whiteboards, iPods and iPads. I do English, IT, humanities, maths, food tech, drama, music, and Indonesian. In P.E. I have been doing softball, and sometimes I do a physio session.
I am in the Year 8 band and I play percussion. We are going to perform at a regional youth concert. We have had lots of rehearsals, so I feel confident. I am also looking forward to the music camp. Only the students who play music can go to that, and it means we get out of school!
The things I don’t like about school are getting up early and having double periods of one subject. Sometimes the integration aides are late and I need help to get things out of my locker. The other students help me then. I didn’t know anybody when I started here. I used to read at lunchtimes but now I have made friends and everybody is really nice. In the future I want to be a video game developer or a lawyer, or author, or a teacher.” – Student
Part-time attendance, dual enrolment and specialist units
Victorian law requires parents and carers to ensure that children of compulsory school age enrol at and attend school full-time. Part-time attendance may, in some circumstances, be a ‘reasonable adjustment’ for your child, depending on the nature of their disability or other temporary or ongoing health issues. Such part-time attendance should be temporary, and the school and family should have a plan to gradually increase to full-time attendance if possible.
Families can seek the option of ‘dual enrolment’, where your child can spend part of each week at a mainstream school and part at a specialist school with the agreement of both schools.
Some mainstream government schools include specialist education units – students might attend some classes in the specialist unit and some in the broader school.