Western Cape schools resumed on 21 January and Pippa Hudson spoke to the Education MEC, Debbie Schafer about what is and is not allowed when enrolling children.
Q: If there is no space in the schools what should a parent do?
A: If they haven’t found a place for their child yet parents must approach the district’s office for assistance.
Q: Is it legal for schools to ask learners to write an admissions test?
A: Not for general schools but it is for focus schools, where the focus is on maths and science. Focus schools are allowed to test for aptitude.
Q: Do schools have to acknowledge all applications?
Q: Are schools entitled to refuse access because the learner’s vaccination records are not up to date?
A: They are not legally allowed to refuse access (however they may strongly advise parents to vaccinate their children).
We still have parents arriving for enrollments at the last moment. We urge parents to prepare and take responsibility for enrolling children early. Take an active interest in your children’s education. Get to school on time, help us by reading to them every day, there is an issue with literacy.— Education MEC, Debbie Schafer
Q: Are schools allowed to refuse access on the grounds of zoning?
A: Every school is allowed to determine their own admission policy. In general there are no zones, but children are encouraged to apply at their local school.
Q: What is the department’s stance on application fees?
A: A school may not charge a fee for registration or deposits or admission or re-admissions. Only once a learner is accepted and has been informed in writing and once they have accepted their place in writing a school may ask for a deposit.
Q: What are the laws regarding deposits with regards to private schools?
A: That is a contractual relationship between parents and the private school.
Q: Can schools refuse to allow a child to start a school year if parents are not up to date with this previous year’s fees?
A: They may not. If this is happening they should send a complaint to the department.
Q: Is there any cap on the amount that schools are allowed to increase their fees by each year?
A: It’s at the discretion of the school. The governing body has to take [the proposed fee increase] to an annual parents' meeting. If parents are not happy they should go to this meeting. The elections for school governing bodies are in March.
Q: What is the policy on non-refundable deposits?
A: At a public school it’s not allowed.
For more information you can visit the Western Cape Education Department or contact the offices at 021 467 2000.