High school placements 2024 in South Africa
The application process varies drastically for private and public high schools in South Africa, and it can be a real challenge to navigate the system
As a parent of a Grade 7 learner, we’re certain you’ve been deep in online research for “high schools near me”, “high school application processes”, and “high school application timelines”. With all of these searches, you’ll be introduced to a system that differs between provinces and school types.
But the team at the University of Cape Town (UCT) Online High School is committed to providing the best possible access to education for all children in South Africa. And that includes access to clear information around the high school application processes: for brick-and-mortar public and private high schools, and online high schools.
With so many differences, parents and guardians need to be prepared. So, we scoured the available documentation to bring you this timeline of placements for high schools in South Africa as part of our guide on applying to high schools in 2024.
For further insights, check out the rest of our high school application series:
- Introducing our guide to the 2024 high school application process
- Provincial high school application process | A province by province breakdown
- NSC meaning | The National Senior Certificate in simple terms
- What should you do if you don't get placed in your high school of choice?
Timeline for applying to high schools in South Africa
The timeline for high school applications is messy. For a number of provinces, public school applications take place earlier in the year, as is the case for the Western Cape, which closes its online applications in two days, on Saturday, 15 April.
The Western Cape is also one of the three provinces that manage the process through a centralised, online system, together with the Northern Cape and Gauteng.
For the rest of South Africa’s nine provinces, applications are usually made later in the year, as announced by provincial departments of education. Applications need to be made to individual schools, often on a first come, first served basis, either online, or via a hard copy application. This differs for each school.
Things are similarly disjointed for private school applications. While parents are usually able to make applications on an ongoing basis, it’s best to put your name down early to secure a place, or get on a waiting list for the next available slot. As a general rule of thumb, we recommend you don’t apply later than the January of the year prior. Some schools even advise you to start the process as soon as 18 months before the year of study being applied for.
But there are late admissions periods and processes for both private and public brick-and-mortar schools. Where you’re not clear on next steps, get in touch with an individual school’s admissions or enrolment offices, or your local District Office, as the case may be.
Then there’s the newer addition of online high school, where UCT Online High School fits in. While online high schools can be lumped together with private schooling, they are generally significantly less expensive than brick-and-mortar high schools, and their waiting lists aren’t as long. However, these schools still have limited space, so don’t leave your application to the last minute.
As you start the application process, know that no school is legally allowed to discriminate against your child, for any reason. This includes intolerance based on race, gender, sex, sexual orientation, parent’s marital status, ethnicity, disability, health status, religion, language, nationality or immigration status.
Similarly, no public school is allowed to exclude your child, withhold a report, or prevent their enrolment because of outstanding school fees.
When must I apply to get my child into high school?
The application period for public schools in the Western Cape closes in just two days, on Saturday, April 15. Application windows have not yet been announced for public schools in Gauteng, the Western Cape or any of the other nine provinces.
Where dates have not been announced for 2024, our timeline indicates this, and pulls from historical data. If you live in one of these provinces, keep your eye on the news and the social media pages for your province's education department, as announcements are often made there.
- Western Cape: 14 March–15 April, Applications confirmed by 19 June
- Gauteng: August–October (TBC)
- Northern Cape: May–September (TBC)
- Eastern Cape, Free State, KwaZulu Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West: January–September (TBC)
- Late applications: Usually November
- January, although this differs school to school.
Get ready to enrol
If you’ve missed the application window for your chosen school, there’s no need to stress. With late application periods still coming up, and viable alternatives like online high school, you have options.
Keep an eye out for the final piece in our high school applications series: ‘What should you do if you don’t get placed in your high school of choice?’ or reach out to one of our Admissions Consultants to learn more about online high school.