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When should I register my child?

 
If your child turns 6 this year, start planning for big school now.
Phillipa Tucker

Pic: Getty Images

Article originally in Parent24
Do your research well ahead of time because waiting lists fill up very fast. Many primary schools start allocating places as early as the first six months of the previous year.  Here are some common questions:

Do I have to register my child at a school?
Yes, definitely. The law in South Africa makes education compulsory for children from age 7 to 15 years or from Grade 1 to 9. You may register your child at the school you have chosen for him or her to attend. It is best to consider a school that is closest to where you live or work.

When should I register my child?
Most schools usually start accepting applications from July in the year before the child starts school. For children who are already at school you must also go in July or August to find out if you need to re-register your child.

At what age can my child start Grade 1?
Your child can only start Grade 1 if he or she will be turning 7 during the first year of schooling. In exceptional cases the Provincial Education Department may consider admission at an earlier age, and schools can advise you in this regard.

Can I register my child at any school even if it is not near my home or workplace?
Yes, you can register your child at any public school. However schools are expected to give first preference to children whose parents live or work near the school, so you may not be accepted. Once a school has reached capacity, they can refuse your child a place and put your child on a waiting list. It is best to register your child at several second options in case they are refused at the first school because you live or work too far away.

Does my child have a guaranteed place even if I don’t register them?
No. Your child is not guaranteed a place at your first school of choice if you do not register them early enough. The Dept of Education has to find a school for the child but it may not be your first choice.

What must the school do?
The office must provide you with a copy of the admissions policy of the school and explain it and answer all your questions.

Can they test my child before registering him or her?
No admissions tests are unlawful and if a school attempts to give your child a test they should be reported to the Dept of Education.

Do I have to sign a contract with the school or agree with the school mission or code of conduct?
No, by law they cannot discriminate against your child if you refuse to sign the mission or code of conduct or indemnity contract of a government school.

What documents will I need?
  • Birth certificate or identity document of the child; and
  • Immunisation card for the child; and
  • Transfer card or last school report card for learners who have been to school previously.

You have 3 months to get these documents. In this time you can apply and show the receipt for your application to the principal or give him a copy stamped by the police. If this is impossible go to the police station and ask to make an affidavit. In this statement you must explain the problem and state the facts. The school has to accept this document. Be careful: this is a legal document and so must contain the truth.

Do I have to pay a registration fee?
No, no public school may charge any registration, administration or other fee, except school fees. The school must tell you what the school fees are for the year and offer you the opportunity to apply for an exemption.

If you have other questions or suspect your child is being discriminated against, call the Department of Education's toll-free hotline on 0800 202 933.

Have you had any difficulty registering your child? Do you think the process is simple enough?


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