Mainstream government schools

acd resource learning together 8

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

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.

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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:

  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.
  6. 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.

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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.

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