Family Forum: ‘Sibling rule’ Unfair for Youngest at School

Primary School aged siblings may not be able to go to the same school! Find out more…


Two years ago, my eldest child was enrolled in a very popular Eastern suburbs primary school even though we live just outside of that school’s zone. My younger child will start school in 2020 so I visited the school office to ensure he would have a place when the time comes. To my dismay, they said that as I lived outside of the school zone they could not promise me a placement for him and the “sibling rule” no longer applies. They said they would put his name on a waiting list but that the chances that they could accept him were remote. In the meantime, I have to live with the fear that I will have to manage two separate drop offs and pickups every day, different uniforms and all that goes with it. Is there anything I can do?


It is true some schools are near or over capacity, especially in the eastern suburbs. Many of these schools are becoming very strict about accepting enrolments from outside their zone.

The Department for Education and Child Development School Enrolment Policy is available online. The Sibling Rights Rule states: “In those cases where a sibling currently attends an out-of-zone school, enrolment is guaranteed. Where a child of a particular family currently attends a particular school, their siblings also have a right to attend that school.”

Family Forum contacted the Department on your behalf, seeking clarification on the application of this rule in this case.

A spokeswoman for the Department explained that “Automatic entry for siblings is valid for most schools with a school zone, unless the Minister has approved a capacity management plan (CMP). Each CMP is unique and the individual CMP will list whether siblings from outside of zone will be considered for automatic entry, or not.”

She added that “No school should be taking enrolments for 2020 until 2019 and their registration of interest process begins. Schools are unable to confirm any enrolments until they know available vacancies.”

If your son’s school has a CMP it would have been tabled in parliament and published in the South Australian Government Gazette, available online, but you may simply ask the school if they have a CMP, to provide a copy or send you the details.

We suggest that you may like to contact the education director for your school to discuss your situation and see whether there is any way you can gain dispensation from the current strict zoning rules. The name of the education director and the education office phone number is listed on the page about your school on the Department’s website. Search for your school online at:

Submit Your Questions

Family Forum is a panel of general practitioners, medical specialists, lawyers, therapeutic and financial counsellors to discuss each letter before the appropriate professional answers it. The panel is appointed by Relationships Australia SA.

Have you got a question you’d like us to tackle?

Fill out the form below or send questions to Family Forum, The Advertiser, 31 Waymouth St, Adelaide 5000.

We treat communications in strict confidence except when the law demands otherwise, as in child abuse.