1. In terms of the SA Schools' Act (Act 84/1996), the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) is legally responsible to provide instruction space for all learners for whom school attendance (Grades 1 to 9) is compulsory. This policy provides schools and governing bodies with measures for managing the admission and placement of over-age learners to ordinary public schools.

2. Definitions

Compulsory school-age: From 7 years to 15 years (Grades 1 to 9)

Compulsory school-age learner: A learner within the compulsory school-age group

Over-age learner: A learner who is more than two years older than the age group norm for a specific grade

Age group norm: The age that a learner must be in a grade - taken as the grade plus 6 years,
e.g. 7 years in Grade 1 and 15 years in Grade 9

Age group norm limit: The maximum age for admission to a grade - taken as 2 years above the age group norm, e.g. 17 years in Grade 9. Any learner above the age group norm limit is an overage learner.

Instruction space: The space in any classroom, including laboratories, specialist rooms and other suitable rooms in a school building that can be used for the teaching of learners

General Education and Training (GET) band: The general education band from Grades 1 to 9
(Level 1)

Further Education and Training (FET) band: Education and training for Grades 10 to 12. These learners are not of compulsory school age. Further education and training is offered by FET colleges and public schools.

FET colleges: Colleges that offer an equivalent education and training in a variety of courses from Level 2 to 4 (Grades 10 to 12)

Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET) institutions: Institutions that offer education and training. The training is aimed mainly at adult learners who have had little or no school education.
A variety of programmes are offered.

3. The WCED is aware that many public schools have already completed their enrolment and planning for 2004. They will, nevertheless, have to ensure that their enrolment complies with the following policy principles that are applicable from 2004.

3.1 Admission of over-age learners for the first time

Admission of learners who have never been to a school must take place strictly in accordance with the policy and prescriptions in par. 3.1 of Circular 0142/2000.

NB: Such over-age learners who are 16 years and older may not be admitted to a school, and must be referred to an ABET centre.

3.2 Over-age learners who are in public schools at present
3.2.1 Transfer from one school to another
(a) Par. 3.2 [ii] of Circular 0142/2000 is hereby replaced with the following:

"[ii] GET band learners (Grades 1 to 9) who exceed the age group norm limit by more than 2 years may only be admitted with the written approval of the circuit manager

  • if it is in the interest of that learner

  • it does not disadvantage other learners.

(b) Learners who wish to enrol for Grades 10 to 12 and who exceed the age group norm limit by more than 2 years or who have had an interruption of 6 months or longer in school attendance must be advised to enrol at an FET college or ABET centre.

NB: In rural areas the EMDC director may consider allowing an over-age learnerís education to Grade 12 to be completed at the nearest suitable public school only if it is not at all possible for the learner to attend an FET college or ABET centre and there is accommodation available for the learner at the school concerned.

(c) When a learner applies for admission to Grades 10 to 12 in a public school, he or she must provide the prescribed documents as required by Sections 15 to 18 of the National Education Policy Act (Act 27/1996), and the prescribed procedures must be followed.
i. If the above-mentioned documents are not available, and the age or grade of the Grade 10 to 12 learner cannot be confirmed, he or she must be referred to an FET college for evaluation and appropriate placement options in an ABET institution or FET college, depending on his or her age and level of education.
ii. Such a learner may be provisionally admitted to a school or FET college for a maximum period of 3 months awaiting the receipt of the required documents and until the process of evaluation for appropriate placement within the education dispensation has been completed. Provisional admission must be explained to parents and learners.
3.2.2 Over-age learners in a public school
(a) Criteria for the placement of a learner in a suitable alternative programme:

A learner who is currently in Grades 9 to 12 in a public school and who exceeds the age group norm for a grade by more than 2 years, must be referred to an ELSEN school of skills, an ABET institution or an FET college if

  • the learner has repeated twice and is not making the desired progress in his or her age or grade group

  • the school programme does not meet the learnerís requirements and/or needs, and it would be better for him or her to follow a more suitable alternative training programme

  • the learner has a poor school attendance record, in other words an absence of 40 days per year that cannot be ascribed to a health condition or pregnancy.

(b) A GET learner who is over-age must be referred to an ELSEN school of skills or an ABET institution after evaluation. A learner in Grades 9 to 12 can be referred to an FET college. These alternative and more appropriate programmes will offer such a learner a better opportunity for progress and life preparation.
(c) From 2005 no learners who have already obtained a Grade 12 or equivalent qualification may be accommodated in any instruction space of a public school for further special or bridging programmes during regular school hours.

3.3 Guidance and support duties of schools
(a) A comprehensive learner profile for all learners who meet the above-mentioned over-age criteria must be available for reference purposes. This profile must describe in detail the steps followed by the school, and the types of scholastic support and interventions that the Specialised Education Support Services at the EMDC offered to the learner. It can also be used when attention has to be given to matters concerning social and/or behavioural and absenteeism problems.
(b) Learners in the FET and ABET sectors who need education support can also approach the EMDC concerned in this regard.
(c) Career guidance

Career guidance to learners must be given high priority throughout the Senior Phase in the FET band.
(i) Learners and their parents or guardians must be exposed to the wide range of options available in the FET band at colleges, as well as to the career and work opportunities available through industries. Special reference and information in respect of the funding of opportunities at the FET colleges must be provided. Schools should invite FET colleges to come and explain career and training opportunities to learners.
(ii) Learners and their parents or guardians must also be informed of the opportunities in the Higher Education and Training band (universities of technology and academic universities) and how education and training is structured within the National Qualifications Framework.

4. On the 10th school-day of each year, heads of schools must provide the director of their EMDC, via the circuit manager, with the enrolment of the school according to grade, the number and age per instruction space, and the actual number of classrooms and other instruction spaces available for use in the school. Circuit managers may check schoolsí registers and enrolment and may request the documentation necessary to ensure that the policy is being complied with and that learners of school age are not being disadvantaged in any way.

5. This policy is applicable to all public schools and heads of schools and governing bodies must comply with the prescriptions.

6. The contents of this circular must be brought to the attention of staff and school governing bodies and all other persons concerned. Teaching personnel must sign and date the accompanying form as proof that they are familiar with the contents of this circular. The form and the circular must then be filed together.

DATE: 2003:12:04