Consultation on enrolment schemes

Exploring options for an enrolment scheme needs an open, community-focused, network-wide approach.

Note: The Education and Training Act 2020 is making some changes to the way enrolment schemes are developed and operated. These changes will be in effect from 1 January 2021, and the advice on this page will be updated. Until the end of 2020, the enrolment scheme provisions in the Education Act 1989 (ss11A-11Q) still apply. For more information about the changes, see development and consultation of school enrolment schemes.

Community engagement and formal consultations are critical parts of the decision making process because they ensure a strong foundation for trust and confidence in decisions that are made. 

Bringing everyone into conversations about home zones

There’s a legal requirement that all students are able to attend a school that’s reasonably convenient to where they live, so the type, roll size, capacity and location of other schools in the local network must be taken into account when Boards of Trustees are considering developing an enrolment scheme for their school.

Boards of Trustees can also plan for long term population changes, sometimes 25 years into the future, so introducing a home zone, or changing an existing one, might be considered even if predicted growth as a consequence of new development is still some years away.

If a school doesn’t have places available for out-of-zone students, parents, caregivers, families and whānau need to know the reason why, as well as alternative options and the places available at nearby schools, to be able to make their enrolment decisions.

This means a community-focused, network-wide approach must be taken when a Board of Trustees is exploring enrolment scheme options for their whole community to consider. Boards of Trustees must do their best to ensure the entire community is aware of any enrolment scheme or change proposal so that everyone understands what the implications will mean for them, the school and the wider community.

Developing options for where a home zone will be best positioned can take time, but it’s important Boards of Trustees of all schools in the area work together with the community so that the outcome that’s in the best interests of students and the network can be achieved.

Boards of Trustees should ensure any school with a roll that could be affected if an enrolment scheme were to be introduced is involved in the conversation as early as possible. This includes neighbouring schools providing education for the same range of students, those with and without an enrolment scheme, and schools further away. This is because these schools will likely be required to absorb the redistribution of students across the network when the enrolment scheme comes into effect.

Formal consultation

As well as getting everyone involved early in the process of developing an enrolment scheme, Boards of Trustees are required to undertake formal consultation with their communities on any proposal, or any proposed change to an existing scheme – such as an amendment to a home zone.

Formal consultation allows the Board to hear and understand the range of views about a proposed change from across the school’s community. We need evidence of formal consultation when Boards seek our approval of their enrolment scheme proposal.

As well as other schools, Communities of Learning ǀ Kāhui Ako, early learning services, local iwi, and any other group or organisation that might be impacted by the proposal should be part of the consultation. This ensures all views can be considered in the context of the interests of current and future students, as well as the local network.

Getting information out there

The requirements of the Education Act 1989 are quite simple in terms of how Boards of Trustees must inform their communities about enrolment scheme proposals – they are to put a notice in the local newspaper with a written description of the proposed home zone and map, and relevant consultation details.

But there are lots of other ways to get the message out, and Boards are encouraged to use as many methods as possible to reach as many people in the community as possible. This helps let everyone know they can be involved and have their views heard, and what the process is for having a say.

As well as publishing a notice in the paper, most schools will include information in their school newsletter, on their website and social media. They might also hold community meetings to explain more and provide other face-to-face opportunities to ask questions and raise issues or concerns.

We help Boards of Trustees and schools with any consultation support they need, including providing additional information and data, and make sure correct processes are being followed. If they haven’t been, it could cause problems further down the track when we’re requested by the Board to approve its new enrolment scheme, or a change to an existing one.

[1] Education Act 1989, s11J(1)

[2] Education Act 1989, Part 2 Enrolment schemes, and suspension, expulsion, and exclusion of students, ss11A-11Q Enrolment schemes

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