Ballarat's secondary school enrolment zones have been altered to account for the city's population growth and school capacity.
The new zones, revealed on the state government's new Find My School website on Wednesday, show smaller catchment zones for Ballarat High School, which is at capacity, and the rapidly growing Phoenix P-12 Community College.
But Mount Rowan Secondary College has a vastly expanded enrolment zone including all of the burgeoning Miners Rest community, whose grade six children were previously split between Ballarat High School and Mount Rowan depending on which side of Ballarat-Maryborough Road they live on.
Students already enrolled at secondary school will not be affected, but those still in their primary years will be subject to the changes, including those with siblings already attending high school.
This year Ballarat High School was forced to start rejecting siblings of current students who live outside their school zone because the school had reached its student ceiling of 1500.
The overhaul has been on the cards for several years as the student population of the city's government secondary colleges has rapidly expanded.
The changes align with the growth areas of Lucas, Delacombe and Bonshaw, and Miners Rest, and also create a "hard boundary" between Woodmans Hill and Mount Rowan secondary colleges which previously had a soft boundary when they were separate campuses of Ballarat Secondary College.
BALLARAT'S GROWING PROBLEM
- Ballarat's secondary schools bracing for massive population growth with new student numbers outstripping those leaving
- New schools guaranteed to help ease Ballarat's growing problem, regardless of election outcome
- Ballarat's population grows by almost 2,000 new residents in a year
- Demand soars for enrolment in Ballarat's Catholic secondary schools
- School squeeze as Miners Rest Primary enrolments soar
Mount Rowan Secondary College principal Seona Murnane said the changes were good news for Ballarat's secondary colleges, aligning them more closely with their neighbourhoods.
"These changes are simply to align with the growth of where houses are being built and school capacities," she said.
Mount Rowan, which is in the middle of a $15.5 million rebuilding project, has 384 students and put on an extra year seven class this year, something Ms Murnane is confident will continue and grow in to the future.
"It is good for Mount Rowan because we are rebuilding and we are ready for more students. They will be coming in to a space that's brand new, that they deserve. A lot of other schools have had upgrades and this has come at a good time for us in terms of expansion of our neighbourhood zone."
Where schools are at capacity there is no flexibility to take in students from outside their zone as priority is given to those living in the neighbourhood. Parents can still apply for a school outside their zone, such as a school a sibling attends, but it is at the school's discretion whether to accept the enrolment.
The Find My School website also includes primary school zones and schools opening in 2020 including Lucas Primary School.
"For the first time, parents will be able to look up the enrolment zone of local schools online and find out quickly and easily what school zone they live within," said education minister James Merlino.
Mr Merlino said in developing the website, a number of anomalies in school zoning had been addressed. Previously, some homes were excluded from a school zone, and in some cases, school boundaries overlapped.
He said schools had always had the choice to accommodate children living outside a school's zone if they had enough space, which would not change. And he emphasised no student currently enrolled in a school would be required to change schools.
The website allows parents to enter their home address to search for their closest school as well as find other nearby government schools.
"For decades parents haven't had easy access to enrolment zones, causing unnecessary stress for thousands of families. Since the start of last year alone, we've received nearly 6,000 calls, letters and emails from families wanting to know their local school zones," Mr Merlino said.
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