Updated: Sep 30, 2021
That time of year comes around so quickly, the time when anxious, excited parents are examining what is involved in the enrolment process as their child starts Kindergarten, High School, or simply moves to another school. This is the time of the child’s schooling when parents are particularly focused on the enrolment process.
For schools, however, the perspective on enrolment is necessarily different. Schools are, in our experience, continually focused on the enrolment process, and all that is constituted within it, because there is an understanding enrolment is not simply the completed act of ‘getting children in’ to the school but an ongoing process – initiated in the formal acts of pre-enrolment and subsequent enrolment – that exists for each individual student throughout the duration of their schooling.
From a legal perspective, the formal enrolment process is an incredibly important procedure for schools to undertake. It is so important because of the relationship it establishes between the school and the families enrolled. The importance of continued communication between the school and families enrolled has to be stressed by the school from the beginning. Simply ensuring contact details are up to date can be a full time job!
A student’s enrolment can be affected in so many ways over the course of their schooling. These naturally also have consequences for the school. There are the obvious behavioural issues that can affect the status of a student’s enrolment. Beyond this schools often find themselves embroiled in Family Law problems that can directly affect the operation of the school, for example through the non-payment of fees by a parent. The requirements of the Privacy Act make demands of a school already in the enrolment process. Of highest priority, schools have a common law duty of care to collect and adequately retain and update information about children enrolled in their school that the school needs to know in order to care for all students under their supervision.
Meeting the standard of your duty of care is both a legal imperative and something that we know schools take extremely seriously. Furthermore, the enrolment process, if not properly undertaken, can leave schools legally vulnerable. Not paying attention to the way a school is susceptible to committing disability discrimination, for example, in its promotional material and the enrolment process has been found to be a potentially costly legal exercise.
As part of managing their legal risk and simply ensuring efficient operation, each school must regularly scrutinise their enrolment process.
Lawyers at Prolegis have been assisting schools for some years in handling these issues, and it has been this experience that has led them to develop the Prolegis Online subscription based service as a means of avoiding legal problems before they arise and, amongst other things, giving your school all the basics for bullet proofing your enrolment process.
For more information contact Prolegis on (02) 9929 4407 or visit www.prolegis.com.au