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What should you do if you don't get placed in your high school of choice?

What do you do if your child doesn’t have a place for Grade 8? Don’t panic! We outline the steps for parents and guardians to take.
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As a parent or guardian of a Grade 7 learner, you’re gearing up for the next stage in your child’s learning journey: assessing and applying to high schools in South Africa.

It probably seems overwhelming. First, you need to make sure you’re choosing the right learning environment for your child. Second, you need to navigate the muddy waters of the application process, which is competitive and inconsistent.

In this article, we’ll address the worry that’s probably first and foremost in your mind. What do you do if, at the end of this season, you don’t secure a place for your child at your school of choice? What then?

First off: Don’t panic! We understand that this is a major concern. That’s why we’ve outlined the various options you have if your first choice doesn’t pan out.

So, if your child doesn’t receive a place at a public or private brick-and-mortar school, know that you still have options. Let’s take a look at each of these.

Private school

Contact admissions offices

Admissions to private high schools in South Africa can be competitive. If you don’t get the place you were hoping for, know that you still have options. First off, contact the school admissions officer. They will be your guide through this process and together you can discuss next steps.

You’ll likely be placed on a waiting list, with the chance that a space will open up and be offered to your child. This is a normal part of the process. Most private brick-and-mortar schools will have a late application process. And many parents and guardians – just like you – put in late applications when they haven’t secured the place they were hoping for.

Consider online high school

If you haven’t yet considered options like homeschooling and online high school, now’s a good time to do so.

While online high schools may be more flexible with their applications, keep in mind that they also have capacity limits. So don’t leave your application to the last minute.

To prepare for the best outcome you can, rather include online high school as an option in your planning now. As you research the options on offer, you may find that it becomes your first choice. Admission for the University of Cape Town (UCT) Online High School in 2024 is now open, and space is limited.

Plan for a backup

It never hurts to have a backup when applying to high schools in South Africa. If it’s within your family budget, you may wish to make extra applications.

For example, UCT Online High School has a nominal application fee of R350, which will ensure your child has a place at an online high school, either as a first option or as a viable backup for public or private school.

Public school

Contact admissions offices

As a parent or guardian navigating the public school applications process, you also have options. If you make your application on time and include a minimum of three schools in your application, chances are you’ll be just fine.

Problems with public school placements largely stem from the thousands of late applications received by provincial departments of education. This means they can’t plan for school capacity needs.

Still, here are the steps you need to take if this happens to you and your child.

Get on the unplaced learners list

First, contact the schools you applied to. Tell them you still need a place. They may be able to accommodate you. At the same time, take to Google and search out other “high schools near me”, and make contact with other schools in your area.

Also contact your local District Office to ensure your child is on the list of unplaced learners. They will search for a public school that can accommodate them.

Appeal a school decision

If you were set on a specific school, you can make an appeal. This is your right, under the South African Schools Act Section 5(9) for all high schools in South Africa.

How to appeal

  1. First, you need to appeal directly to the school. Ensure they know you are still looking for a place for your child.
  2. Ask them to reconsider your application, and place you on the school’s waiting list.
  3. If the school governing body (SGB) is still unwilling – or unable – to place your child, ask for a copy of their decision.
  4. You then need to send this SGB report to your provincial MEC for Education, for review. You will also send them your application and supporting documents.

How to contact your provincial MEC for Education

  1. Eastern Cape
  2. Free State
  3. Gauteng
  4. KwaZulu Natal
  5. Limpopo
  6. Mpumalanga
  7. Northern Cape
  8. North West
  9. Western Cape

Start the applications process today

As a parent or guardian, you want the best for your child. The prospect of not receiving a school placement is likely keeping you up at night.

We hope that this article will help you to hope for the best, while planning for the worst. Know that you have options that’ll help your child to access the educational opportunities that will suit them best.

For more guidance on high school applications, download our free guide, and read other insights from our applications series for high schools in South Africa on our blog.

Share this with another parent or guardian who needs it, or get in touch with one of our  Admissions Consultants who’ll be able to help you assess online high school as an option for your family.

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