The procedure establishes protocols to ensure children can enrol at their local state school
through the management of enrolments based on a school’s physical infrastructure capacity.
Protocols are also included regarding the management of out-of-catchment enrolments for
state schools with capacity restraints.
A local state school is a primary or secondary state school which is closest to a student’s
principal place of residence. This is measured by the shortest, most direct route by road to
and from the main entrance at the school (return trip). A state school’s catchment area
defines what residences are closest by road to the school.
However, where a student intends to walk to school, a designated public walkable route to
and from school may be considered on a case-by-case basis.
State schools with both a primary and secondary provision will have separate respective
catchment areas. A limited number of state secondary schools have separate catchment
areas for Years 8-10 and Years 11-12. This accommodates neighbouring schools whose
delivery is only up to Year 10.
School Enrolment Management Plans:
School Enrolment Management Plans (School EMPs) are used by some state schools to
actively manage enrolments where the school is nearing its maximum enrolment capacity
level. This ensures that sufficient enrolment capacity in a school is reserved to
accommodate local students and provides a fair process for prioritising enrolments where
parents wish to enrol their children in a state school other than their local state school.
Table and discuss the requirement for a School EMP at a P&C meeting
Utilise local communication processes to inform the community and initiate the consultation
process to complete the School EMP
Complete the School EMP Template
Submit an electronic Word version, along with a scanned and signed version of the School
EMP to Regional Director
On the school website, include either a link to the departmental website containing the
gazetted School EMP or a PDF copy of the gazetted School EMP for the school
Ensure that the public has access to a gazetted copy of the School EMP and catchment map
at the school office
Manage community reaction to implementation of a School EMP
Manage school enrolments based on the approved School EMP - ensuring that the starting
cohort enrolment numbers do not increase to the extent that the overall capacity of the
school is exceeded, for the life of the cohort
Assess enrolment applications to determine if applicant is eligible to enrol under the School
EMP and other eligibility criteria in Enrolment in State Primary, Secondary and Special
schools and Education (General Provisions) Act 2006 (QLD)
The Principal is responsible for all decisions on enrolments
Where a Principal forms a preliminary view that an application will not succeed, parents will
be notified in writing. Parents may respond to the Principal’s preliminary view by making a
submission to the Principal, no later than seven school days after receiving the preliminary
If no submission is received, the Principal’s preliminary view will be treated as the final
decision and no further notice will be provided
If a submission is received, the Principal will consider the submission and make a final
decision. A final decision notice will be provided to the applicant as soon as is practicable
Coordinate an annual review of the School EMP to ensure that the School EMP is current and
relevant, and update if required
Principals who are considering introducing or have already introduced a Program of
Excellence (i.e. secondary schools only) must prepare a Program of Excellence Proposal
using the required template and submit to the Regional Director for consideration and
approval before submitting the School EMP to Infrastructure Strategy, Research and
Responsible for ensuring effective enrolment management across the region and proactively managing enrolments across clusters of schools, including Independent Public
Consult with Principals whose School EMP needs to be reviewed due to enrolments dropping
below 80%, as advised by ISRP
Negotiate agreed position with school Principal for implementation of School EMP based on
capacity and forecast need for infrastructure provision for Programs of Excellence
Liaise and collaborate with officers from within ISB regarding planning for infrastructure
Approve schools to reserve learning spaces to meet future enrolment requirements as a
result of a major education reform (e.g. Year 7 to High School program)
Ensure that the School EMP process and timelines are adhered to
As Director-General’s delegate, review and approve the School EMP for each state school,
including Independent Public Schools
Consider proposals received from secondary schools to establish Programs of Excellence, or
other merit based programs. Prior to the approval of the School EMP, where there are
additional infrastructure implications, the Regional Director should forward the Program of
Excellence proposal to the Deputy Director-General, Education Queensland for endorsement
Forward approved School EMP to ISRP officers for gazettal
As Director-General’s delegate, approve changes to catchment area boundaries in
consultation with ISRP.
Infrastructure Strategy, Research and Performance (ISRP) unit
Annually identify state schools that require a School EMP and advise region/s
Annually identify state schools whose School EMP needs to be reviewed due to enrolments
dropping below 80% and advise regions
Work collaboratively with Regional Directors and Principals to assist in local area enrolment
planning in the context of infrastructure provision
Support Regions and schools during the approval process of School EMPs
Liaise with Office of Economic and Statistical Research in managing equidistant boundaries
and development of catchment maps
Provide access to catchment maps to regions and state schools
Arrange the gazettal of approved School EMPs. Advise school and region of date of gazettal
of the School EMP
Place gazetted School EMP on Departmental website for public access
Negotiate with Regional Directors regarding the capacity of the Capital Works Program to
support requests for additional facility provision to meet proposed Program of Excellence
Deputy Director-General, Education Queensland
Approve annually the list of schools which are identified as being required to implement a
Approve any requests from Regional Directors for an exemption to implement a School EMP
at a specific school.
Deputy Director-General, Corporate Services
Approve requests for additional infrastructure, due to increased out-of-catchment
enrolments, for those schools with School EMPs in place (in consultation with ISRP).
In February of each year, ISRP officers will conduct an assessment of all state schools to
identify schools where capacity is currently under pressure, or is likely to be under pressure
in the future, from out-of-catchment student enrolments. The standard trigger is autilisation
rate of 90% or higher and trending upwards.
ISRP will also identify schools whose School EMP needs to be reviewed due to enrolments
dropping and liaise with Regions regarding possible rescindment of the School EMP. The
standard trigger point for a rescindment is autilisation rate of 80% or lower and trending
Certain schools with autilisation rate of 90% or higher will be automatically exempt from
implementing a School EMP. These include:
Rural or provincial schools which do not have neighbouring schools within a radius of
approximately 50km (based on reasonable travel distance expectations)
Rural or provincial schools where the only other neighbouring school/s in the area also
has/have a utilisation rate at or above 90%
Schools whose out-of-catchment enrolments are less than 12%
Individual schools for which the Deputy Director-General has approved an exemption,
following a request from a Regional Director due to unique circumstances (these will be
assessed on a case-by-case basis).
Some state schools, particularly secondary schools, may use flexible timetabling. This may
affect the calculation of maximum enrolment level for that school. Where this is the case,
negotiations to determine school enrolment levels should occur between the Principal and
the Regional Director, based on the needs of the Regional Plan.
The requirement for state schools to implement a School EMP will be considered on a caseby-case basis by the Regional Director. The Regional Director will consult with ISRP unit
Students within catchment:
All students, whose principal place of residence is within the school’s catchment area/s, are
(subject to the Education (General Provisions) Act 2006 (Qld)) eligible for enrolment at the
school. The school Principal will hold places for students who relocate to within the
catchment area throughout the school year.
Other students outside the catchment area deemed to be eligible for enrolment:
The following groups of students will be deemed as eligible for enrolment, even though they
may reside outside the school’s catchment area:
Children and young people who are subject to child protection orders that grant
guardianship or custody to the Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Communities,
Child Safety and Disability Services (Child Safety Services)
Siblings of current students at a school who reside outside of the catchment are eligible for
enrolment at the school (excluding siblings of students in a Program of Excellence). Where a
state school has both a primary and secondary campus, siblings are only eligible to enrol in
the same campus as the currently enrolled student
Students whose parent or legal guardian is employed by the school
Students who live outside the catchment area and are verified with a disability can enrol at
the school to attend the specific disability program if it is the closest program to their home
and meets their individualised needs
Students who have been excluded from a school other than this school, as determined by
the Regional Director.
A state school’s ability to accept students who live outside the local catchment should be
considered according to the following “Out-of-Catchment Criteria”:
1. the amount of spare enrolment capacity once the demand for in-catchment enrolments has
2. allowing sufficient space for students relocating into the catchment during the year
3. ensuring an even spread of students across all year levels while maintaining class size
4. ensuring any out-of-catchment enrolments will not reduce the school’s capacity to meet incatchment enrolments for the current year and in future years.
Students from outside the catchment area applying for enrolment are placed on a waiting
list. These applications are assessed in order of receipt within the following order of
1. For P-12 schools:
Primary school-aged siblings of students currently enrolled in the secondary campus have
priority for enrolment at the school. Secondary school-aged siblings of students currently
enrolled in the primary campus have priority for enrolment at the school. (Please note: as
per the section above, siblings of current students, who reside outside the catchment, are
deemed eligible for enrolment at the same school campus.)
Students who live within the P-7 catchment, but not within the 8-12 catchment, will have
priority for enrolment in the secondary campus. Students who live within the 8-12
catchment, but not within the P-7 catchment will have priority for enrolment in the primary
campus of the school.
2. For schools with a Program of Excellence:
Places will only be available to out-of-catchment enrolments if they satisfy the school’s
criteria for placement in a Program of Excellence and the defined number of places has not
been filled by in-catchment enrolments.
Siblings of students who have enrolled in the school’s Program of Excellence are not
automatically eligible for enrolment; they will be assessed as per the “Out-of-Catchment
Criteria” listed above.
3. For secondary schools with a wider catchment area for Years 11-12:
Students who live within the senior secondary catchment but not within the junior
secondary catchment will have priority for enrolment in the junior secondary campus.
4. All other enrolment applications.
Matters to consider before accepting out-of-catchment enrolments:
Where a major education program is expected to increase student numbers at a school (e.g.
Year 7 to High School program, International Student Program), a school may reserve
enrolment capacity to meet the forecast need, as approved by the Regional Director.
The department has a primary responsibility to provide facilities to meet the educational
needs of the core curriculum. Where a school has a School EMP in place, the Department
will only provide additional facilities, including Prep, to meet increased in-catchment student
It is acknowledged that some of our secondary schools already offer Programs of Excellence
that attract students from a wide geographical area providing enhanced educational
outcomes and promoting State Education. In schools with a School EMP, this can result in
schools requiring additional facilities to support those programs. The requirement for
additional facilities should take into account the long-term education delivery needs within
the geographic area.
In the situation, where a school already has a Program of Excellence in place and
enrolments are at or over current capacity, a strategy should be implemented to reduce
out-of-catchment enrolments to bring the total enrolments back to within the current
Any requests for additional facilities to accommodate out-of-catchment
enrolments should be managed as follows:
Principal lodges a request through the Regional Facilities Manager to the Regional Director
Regional Director seeks endorsement from Deputy Director-General, Education Queensland
ISRP facilitates decision-making by appropriate level
This process enables Regional Directors, Regional Facilities Managers and Principals to work
collaboratively with the Infrastructure Services Branch (ISB) in central office to ensure a
well-planned, appropriate, budgeted infrastructure solution is provided, be it permanent or
transportable facilities. This will ensure secondary schools are able to meet core and
specialised program needs effectively over the long term.
Under the Department’s State Education Fees procedure, a principal of a state school is able
to charge a fee for recouping costs of enrolment processing by a State school with an
approved School Enrolment Management Plan of a prospective student who lives outside the
school's catchment area, where:
the enrolment management plan permits the enrolment of a student living outside the
catchment area based on cultural, sporting or academic merit, and
the significant number of prospective students living outside the catchment area and
applying to enrol results in abnormal administrative costs to the school, for example,
enrolment examination supervision and marking.
The School EMP includes standard provisions and follows a standard template. Schools are
required to use this template for all School EMPs. Where optional items are highlighted,
schools choose the option which best describes their context. Otherwise, the template may
not be altered.
On approval, both new and revised School EMPs are published in the Government Gazette
and on the Department’s website at http://education.qld.gov.au/schools/catchment/.
The provisions of the School EMP will take effect upon gazettal.
The School’s EMP does not replace other departmental procedures; for example: Safe,
Supportive and Disciplined School Environment.
For more information about the process, please refer to the School Enrolment Management
Plan (School EMP) – Operational Guidelines.
School Enrolment Management Plan template
Program of Excellence proposal form
School Enrolment Management Plan (School EMP) - Operational Guidelines
Additional resources for schools and regional offices (DETE employees only)