New Draft Boarding House Guidelines to Minimum Standards

The VRQA has just released its new Draft Guidelines to the Minimum Standards and Requirements for School Boarding Premises Registration.

Schools and organisations can submit written feedback on the draft guidelines by 5.00pm on Tuesday 18 May 2021.

Although there is significant overlap with the Guidelines to the Minimum Standards for school registration, there are also distinct requirements.

Here’s our key takeaways:

  • School boarding services means accommodation services provided for the primary purpose of enabling or facilitating a person to enrol at or attend a registered school – noting that short term camps not covered, and neither is OSHC or homestay for three or fewer. However, day and weekly boarding is included.
  • A boarding house must be registered as either non-government or government boarding house premises. These must declare if there is an association with a registered school and if there is any religious or other affiliation or association;
  • Existing boarding houses have until 18 September to do a self assessment and statutory declaration; new ones need to apply (there is an annexure setting out the required documentation).

The Standards involve:

1. Compliance with Worker Screening Act. This involves:

  • WWC clearance policy
  • Register          

2. Acceptance policy

  • Policy as to who is acceptable for enrolment, noting that the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 permits students of the religious denomination to be given preference in enrolment, but discrimination is prohibited (unless the school meets the requirements for the religious schools exception, which is rare).
  • Written agreement including codes of conduct, facilities provided, fees, grounds for termination
  • Include religious affiliation – must be same as school registration.
  • Details of services – private/shared room/bathroom, meals, laundry, pastoral care, communications, entertainment, tutoring
  • Links to other policies (anti-bullying etc)

3.   Register of Students

  • Prescribed information including health and wellbeing information

4.   Record of Location of Students

  • Location at specific times of day and night
  • If absent, location of student, reasons for absence and contact details (plus parent consent if not with the parent)

5.   Care, Safety and Welfare

  • Very similar to Minimum Standards – involving the usual risk assessments, critical incidents, emergency management plans
  • Child safety, again very similar to Minimum Standards, staff policies and training re mandatory reporting, failure to disclose, failure to protect, grooming
  •  Child safe standards in Ministerial Order 870 and reportable conduct
  • Anaphylaxis
  • Behavior management

6.   Buildings, Facilities and grounds

7.   Governance

  • Significantly similar to Minimum Standards
  • Business plan to include boarding house
  • Not-for-profit and other Minimum Standards apply

Other Standards cover:

8.   Philosophy

9.   Information on performance

10. Compliance with law, registration

How we can help

With four and a half months to comply, existing boarding facilities will need to update existing policies and procedures, and create some bespoke material. With deep expertise in school regulation, Moores can assist. For more information, please do not hesitate to contact us.