Student Rights

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School zones and “enrolment schemes”

What’s an “enrolment scheme” and why do some schools have them?

Education Act 1989, ss 11A-11F

If a school has an enrolment scheme, this means the school has to accept all students who live in the “home zone” that’s identified in the scheme. Students who live outside the zone can only go to the school if they’re selected for a place under the rules of the scheme. Out-of-zone students are selected by balloting.

Schools can only adopt an enrolment scheme if this is necessary to avoid overcrowding. When there are more students who want to go to the school than there are spaces available, an enrolment scheme makes sure students are selected fairly and transparently, rather than having the school just choose whichever students it wants.

How is a school’s home zone decided?

Education Act 1989, s 11E

The school defines its home zone on the basis that the school is a reasonably convenient one for students living in that area. The enrolment scheme has to define the zone precisely so that any particular address is either inside or outside the zone.

How are out-of-zone students selected?

Education Act 1989, s 11F(1)

If you live outside the home zone, then whether or not you’ll be able to go to the school will depend on how many places the school has for out-of-zone students. To fill those out-of-zones places, the school has to follow an order of priority that’s set nationally, by law:

  1. children who are accepted into special programmes run by the school (for example, special education or a Māori language immersion class)
  2. brothers and sisters of current students of the school
  3. brothers and sisters of past students of the school
  4. children of past students of the school
  5. children of school staff or of the board of trustees
  6. all other children who apply.

So if, for example, there are enough out-of-zone places to take all children from categories 1 to 3, but not enough for everyone in category 4, a ballot will decide which category 4 children will get to go to the school.

Who counts as a “brother” or “sister” for an enrolment scheme?

Education Act 1989, s 11F(3)

Brothers and sisters (“siblings”) include:

  • full biological brothers and sisters
  • half-brothers and sisters
  • step-brothers and step-sisters by marriage, civil union or de facto partnership, and
  • children who live in the same house and are treated by the adults of the house as if they’re brothers and sisters.

In particular cases the Ministry of Education can also instruct the school that particular children are to be treated as brothers or sisters.

What if, later, we move out of the home zone?

Education Act 1989, ss 11O, 11OA

The school’s board of trustees can cancel your enrolment if it believes on reasonable grounds that your parents used a temporary address to enrol you at the school. The school must send your parents a “review notice” first, giving them a chance to explain. If the board then decides to cancel your enrolment, you have one month to leave the school.