Like any business, schools publish various policies and procedures that are integral to their business operations. Some of these policies and procedures include Workplace, Health and Safety Policies, Anti-Discrimination Policies, Sexual Harassment Policies, Child Protection Policies and Complaints Policies just to name a few. Policies and procedures such as these are fundamental to the operation of a school and in certain cases, a requirement for accreditation linked to funding. However, just as important as these policies are the policies that underpin the Enrolment Contract – policies such as an Enrolments Policy, Enrolments Policy (Special Needs), Gender Diverse Policies, Separated Family Policies, Discipline Policies and Scholarship and Bursary Policies all play a fundamental role in the relationship between a school and its families.
Schools are frequently faced with ‘supply and demand issues’. That is sometimes, there are just more applicants than there are places. An Enrolment Policy is a school’s public statement as to how it manages its intake and what circumstances (if any) it takes into consideration when making a decision to offer a child a place at a school. Given every student at a school goes through the enrolment process, an Enrolment Policy is fundamental to the efficient operation of a school.
Enrolments Policy (Special Needs)
Enrolling children with special needs is common place in school Enrolment Offices. Importantly, the enrolment of most children with special needs is regulated by the Disability Standards for Education 2005 (Cth) (the Standards). Understanding and implementing the Standards is critical to a school’s operations. An Enrolments Policy (Special Needs) sets out a School’s policy position and the process it follows (in accordance with the Standards) when enrolling children with special needs.
Gender Diverse Policies
The diversity of the modern day enrolment at schools has increased significantly over the last 20 years reflecting society’s fast growing recognition of people who identify as transgender and gender diverse. Transgender and gender diversity by their very nature can involve complex psychological and medical factors. This complexity increases considerably in the school environment. An inclusive, easy to understand and strongly pastoral Transgender and Gender Diverse Policy is critical for all Australian schools.
Separated Family Policies
In certain instances, the issues facing separated families unfortunately ‘spill over’ into the school environment. How a school manages and responds to these situations is very important. This can range from making a decision not to enrol a child because the parents do not agree, to who drops off and collects the children from school. Having a school policy position that clearly sets out a school’s approach to these situation is very important.
Parent Codes of Conduct
Parent Codes of Conduct (the Code) set out a school’s ‘conduct’ expectations of its parents so far as they relate to a parent’s interaction with a school. It acts as a conduct guide but also provides a school with the ability to terminate an Enrolment Contract and cancel the enrolment of a child in circumstances where a parents conduct is at odds with the Code.
Fundamentally, a school’s ability to discipline a child is founded in contract. A school has many forms of discipline which could include detentions, suspensions and the cancelling of an enrolment through expulsion. Having a clearly articulated Discipline Policy enables a school to implement its discipline strategies in circumstances where parents have acknowledged and accepted its applicability through a provision in the Enrolment Contract.
Scholarship and Bursary Policies
Scholarships and bursaries are frequently very sensitive issues. The processes a school follows to select recipients and then manage the recipient’s conduct and progression through the school is very important to maintaining the integrity of the scholarship and bursary program both within the school community and also the perception that those external to the school may have. A robust Scholarship and Bursary Policy will ensure that a school’s position is clearly articulated resulting in a fair and transparent process.