Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Why is this happening?

The change to our procedures will provide greater certainty for NSW families, by providing specific pathways for NSW students seeking to attend Canberra Public Schools.

Previously, NSW families wishing to enrol their child were required to apply for a place in a Canberra Public School and applications were considered only after all applications by ACT residents were processed, and then only by schools with enough capacity to accept cross-border applications. Many families were unable to receive confirmation of enrolment until close to the start of Term 1.

Due to significant growth in enrolments in the ACT, the number of Canberra Public Schools able to accept students from outside their Priority Enrolment Area (including from NSW) has reduced and this trend is expected to continue.

Monitoring the progress of NSW enrolments indicates that there are increasing numbers waiting for responses from schools that are filling with ACT students. As a result, we are taking this proactive step to streamline and fast track processes for NSW families.

Going forward, a NSW resident seeking to enrol in the Canberra public school system, they will be given notional priority enrolment at selected schools as part of a clear pathway through primary, secondary and senior schooling.

While the pathway schools may change in the future, once a student is enrolled on a pathway they will be guaranteed a place in the schools that have been identified when they first enrolled.

Q. Is this happening because some ACT schools are too crowded?

The Education Directorate does a lot of work to forecast expected population growth in order to manage school capacities. Given the ACT’s growing population, this revised procedure will help us with this forecasting and with the ongoing management of enrolments across the city. It will ensure that every Canberra student continues to have a place in a school in their priority enrolment area, and that every NSW student has access to the quality education provided in Canberra Public Schools.

Q. I already have my eldest child enrolled in a school that is not a NSW pathway school and I want my other child to attend the same school, can I still do this?

If you already have a child at a school other than a NSW pathway school, and you wish to enrol another child, your application will be considered only where there is capacity and after ACT applications have been processed. This may be as late as Term 1 of the school year of commencement.

If your enrolment is not accepted, your child will be offered a place at a NSW pathway school.

Q. My child currently attends a non-pathway school in the ACT. Will they have to enrol at a NSW pathway school when they transition from primary school to high school or from high school to College?

Yes. This change in procedure does not affect the current enrolment of any NSW resident student who is currently attending a Canberra Public School. The new procedure will however apply when a NSW resident student transitions to their next phase of schooling (i.e. from primary to high school).

Q. Are there too many NSW students attending Canberra Public Schools?

Each year, the ACT welcomes around 1,800 NSW students into our 87 public schools. This number of students has been relatively stable over the last five or six years, however a number of residential developments across the border creates a likelihood of an increase in enrolments from NSW students. While the ACT will continue to welcome NSW students, this revised procedure will help us manage enrolments going forward.

Q. Why are the pathway schools only in Belconnen and Tuggeranong?

School populations fluctuate with the changing demographics and growth of suburbs and regions. Recent residential development in Gungahlin and Woden/Weston has seen a growth in a number of our schools in these regions. Conversely, a few of our schools in Belconnen and Tuggeranong currently have greater capacity to enrol out of area students, and this procedure reflects that. As suburb populations/demographics change, we will review NSW pathway schools to ensure populations are managed and they continue to have capacity. Therefore, identified pathway schools may change in future. However, once a student is enrolled on a pathway they will be guaranteed a place in the school pathway identified at initial enrolment.

Q. My friend’s child has already been accepted into a non-pathway school but now you’re telling me my child can’t go to a school of my choice. Why is that?

Schools make offers of enrolment based on a priority list set out in the Education Participation (Enrolment and Attendance) Policy.

This means that schools can offer NSW places only after they have made all other offers and only if they have available capacity. A place may have been offered to your neighbour, but there may be no more places left at the same school for your child, or any other students.

It is for this reason, we have decided, from this point on that all NSW students will get the choice of a pathway school.

This revised procedure is designed to help us manage enrolments over the longer term, and ensure greater certainty for parents who will be given a confirmed pathway for their child from kindergarten to year 12. Going forward, this process will apply to all NSW applications to Canberra Public Schools.

Q. Now my child has a ‘guaranteed’ place at an ACT public school through this NSW pathway, do I need to submit a further application for their transition to high school/college?

Yes. All parents need to submit an application for their children when transitioning from primary school to high school or high school to college. This process applies to all students who are enrolled at ACT Public schools. Your application will however be considered as a ‘within area’ application for your designated pathway school/s.

Q. If I move from my current residence (in NSW) to another area in NSW, will my child continue at their current ACT public school?

Yes, your child can continue attending their current school. You will also have the option of moving your child to another NSW pathway school, should you wish. Should you seek to enrol your child in a further stage of schooling (high school or college) then the NSW pathways options will apply.