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Placement in school or preschool

In most cases your child will be offered a place at the local school or preschool nearest to your home, unless the education department has:

  • made geographic boundaries for the school or preschool with a zone or catchment area
  • provided a school bus service or transport allowance to another school (for students who reside more than 5kms from their nearest school) – talk to your school for further information
  • restricted new enrolments at a school or preschool by using capacity management strategies.

You can use the find a school or preschool page to help you find a school or preschool. In outer metropolitan Adelaide unzoned areas, the local school might not be the nearest school listed on the website.

School zones and preschool catchment areas

A school zone or catchment area is a defined area from which the school or preschool accepts its core intake of students. The school or preschool gives priority enrolment to children who live inside that zone or catchment area.

All metropolitan and some regional preschools have a catchment area, most high schools in metropolitan Adelaide are zoned, and a number of primary schools are zoned.

Shared zones

Some schools have a shared zone or shared areas, allowing students living in this zone to nominate a preferred local school.

If demand from families living in the shared zone or area is more than the places available, children may be allocated to either school. The allocation depends on available spaces and considerations such as a sibling being at the school, distance from home to the school, curriculum needs, social and family links, and transport needs.

Capacity management strategies

Where the number of local applications for entry to a preschool is more than the available places, the preschool will offer places based on a number of considerations. These considerations will be outlined in the preschool’s priority of access criteria. A child who cannot be offered a place at their local preschool will get help to enrol at another nearby preschool.

Some schools have a very high demand for places and might have restrictions on enrolments and programs. These schools have what is a called a capacity management plan (CMP).  When a school with a CMP cannot give a place to a family living in the school zone, the school will help the family enrol at another nearby school. 

Applying to go to a non-local school or preschool

Families can apply for any school or preschool, even if it is not their local one, but enrolment will only be offered if the school or preschool has places available.

Non-local school

Mainstream schools (except for schools on a capacity management plan) can accept applications from non-local students, if they have the current and future ability to do so.

There are 2 ways for students starting at a non-local primary or high school for the next year to be considered.

Preference entry for non-local students

When demand from non-local families is more than the available places, the school will consider:

  • distance from the child’s home to the school
  • curriculum needs (not including selective special interest programs)
  • social or family links to the school
  • transport and location needs.

Automatic entry for non-local students

Some non-local students may be eligible for automatic entry during the registration process. Some examples are:

  • children who identify as Aboriginal and are eligible for a department program (eg Enter for success)
  • children selected by the school to participate in an approved special interest program
  • children with an older sibling at the school at the same time, except for siblings who entered through a selective special interest programs
  • children enrolled by the principal because of a special consideration, such as children in care with a custody or guardianship order.

Siblings already in a selective special interest program in high school

From 2020 onwards there will not be automatic entry for children whose siblings were chosen by the school to be in a selective special interest program.

Non-local students applying can have automatic entry if:

  • their sibling started at the high school before the 2020 school year
  • the child applies through the department’s state-wide high school transition process
  • the child and the sibling will attend the school at the same time
  • the school has not restricted non-local siblings with a capacity management plan.

Non-local preschool

If the preschool has places available after enrolling local children, children in care and referred families, places may be offered to children living outside of the preschool catchment area.

When there are more applications than spaces from families living outside of the catchment area, places will be offered based on a number of factors such as if the child is Aboriginal, distance from home, siblings at the local school, and transport needs.

Contact

If you have questions about placement, contact your preschool or school.

General enquiries

Phone: 8226 1000
Free call: 1800 088 158
Email: education.customers [at] sa.gov.au