School boarding premises FAQs

We prepared these frequently asked questions (FAQs) based on consultation with stakeholders about school boarding premises regulation.

Why regulate school boarding premises?

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse identified school boarding facilities as high risk environments for children. It found that a disproportionate amount of abuse occurred in school boarding premises, and recommended they be regulated to ensure they meet the Child Safe Standards.

In response, the Victorian Government expanded the VRQA's remit to include the regulation of school boarding premises. The VRQA began regulating school boarding premises on 18 June 2021.

What is a school boarding premises?

The Education and Training Reform Regulations 2017 define the type of student accommodation regulated by us:

  • School boarding premises – a premises at which school boarding services are provided or intended to be provided by a person for a fee or reward.
  • School boarding services – accommodation services provided for the primary purpose of enabling or facilitating a person to enrol at or attend a registered school.
  • Accommodation services – the provision of accommodation, which may also include meals, laundry or cleaning.

These definitions apply to traditional school boarding premises, as well as other types of accommodation including:

  • services where students receive overnight accommodation ranging from one night to a term or longer
  • 'day boarding', including non-overnight accommodation services, where students receive accommodation outside normal school hours, including to enable them to undertake sports training or religious instruction.

The requirement to register as a school boarding premises also applies to student homestay arrangements where 4 or more students are accommodated at the one premises. It does not apply to Outside School Hours Care (OSHC).

How do I determine if my premises needs to register?

It is the responsibility of schools and organisations to identify whether they need to register with us and meet the school boarding minimum standards.

To help you determine this, we have created a responsibility indicator survey. Complete the survey to receive an indication of whether your school or organisation is required to register and meet the school boarding minimum standards:

What standards are school boarding premises required to meet?

They are required to meet 13 minimum standards for the registration of school boarding premises (the school boarding minimum standards), set out in the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 and the Education and Training Reform Regulations 2017.

The VRQA's Guidelines to the Minimum Standards and Requirements for School Boarding Premises Registration (the Boarding Guidelines) provide guidance on how to demonstrate compliance with the school boarding minimum standards and other requirements.

For more information, see:

Are the school boarding minimum standards similar to the existing school minimum standards?

Yes they are. The school boarding minimum standards align significantly with the minimum standards for registration of schools (the school minimum standards). We have outlined the degree of alignment in this table:

Schools may find many of their existing policies or procedures can be adapted or expanded to address the school boarding minimum standards. When reviewing existing school policies and procedures, schools should consider the different circumstances and risks associated with school boarding premises.

What are the key dates?

The VRQA commenced regulating school boarding premises on 18 June 2021.

Schools and organisations with existing school boarding premises who did not participate in the deeming process are required to make an application to the VRQA for registration. 

New premises applying to register must make an application in writing by no later than 30 June in the preceding year of intended commencement of operation, or any later date determined by the VRQA, or if the VRQA considers that there are special circumstances. The same applies for any changes to boarding premises registration, such as additional premises or relocations.

Non-government school boarding premises must notify us within 30 days of any significant changes affecting their boarding premises, such as changes in legal entity or proprietorship, contact details, or religious or other affiliation.  

The review process for registered school boarding premises began in 2022.

How will the VRQA review school boarding premises?

We will review school boarding premises every 5 years, like we do for schools.

To help reduce the regulatory burden, we will conduct a review of your school boarding premises at the same time we conduct your school's cyclical review.

Due to different CRICOS re-approval and review timeframes it may not be possible to align CRICOS reviews with school and school boarding premises reviews.

Non-school providers will also be reviewed on a 5 year cycle.

The VRQA is required to review all school boarding premises within the first 3 years of commencement. If your school review was scheduled for 2021, it will have been deferred to 2022 to enable both reviews to be conducted concurrently. If your school review is scheduled for 2025, it may be brought forward.

My school or organisation has multiple boarding premises at different locations. Do they all need to be registered separately?

Provided each boarding premises is owned or controlled by the same legal entity, they do not need to be registered separately. You can record multiple boarding sites under one school boarding premises registration, much the same way schools currently do if they have multiple campuses.

If your existing registered school boarding premises is adding a new location or premises you must apply to amend your registration, see:

Does my school and school boarding premises have to set up separate policies, procedures and governance arrangements?

For the most part, no. Schools may adapt or expand many of their existing policies, procedures and governance arrangements to address the school boarding minimum standards.

Adapting or expanding your school's existing policies, procedures and arrangements means giving proper consideration to the different responsibilities, operating environments and risks associated with school boarding premises.

The governing authority in charge of your school boarding premises needs to approve whatever policies, procedures and arrangements you put in place and confirm they are appropriate for the boarding premises and the boarding services provided there.

The alignment table provided above indicates which existing policies, procedures and arrangements schools may consider adapting or expanding to meet the school boarding minimum standards.

Do non-school providers that operate a boarding premises for school age-students have to register the premises they operate?

Yes. If the primary purpose of the boarding premises you operate is to facilitate students' enrolment or prospective enrolment at a registered school, you must register your premises with us.

For example:

  • organisations may operate boarding premises as a third-party boarding provider for schools
  • organisations may operate a boarding premises for school-age children who intend to enrol at a registered school after they have completed some form of language studies.

Both these types of premises must register with us.

Do schools need a separate acceptance policy and procedure, and acceptance agreement, for their school boarding premises?

If you can demonstrate that your school enrolment policy and enrolment agreement include all the details required for a school boarding premises (refer to Acceptance policy in the Guidelines to the Minimum Standards and Requirements for School Boarding Premises Registration), there is no requirement for a separate school boarding premises acceptance policy and procedure and acceptance agreement.

Our school operates a short-term program at a school facility which includes accommodation. What is the minimum duration of a program which would require registration of this facility as a school boarding premises?

If the program runs for 10 or more days, the premises must be registered as a school boarding premises and comply with the minimum standards. This includes programs where, for example, students stay at the accommodation during the week and return home for the weekend, or where the program runs for a period of 10 or more consecutive days.

School camping facilities that run for less than 10 days are not required to be registered as a school boarding premises. These facilities will continue to be regulated under the minimum standards for school registration, including the requirement to have appropriate arrangements for supervision of students engaged in off-site activities and which includes consideration of the risk of bushfire in the activity location (refer to Care, safety and welfare of students in the Guidelines to the Minimum Standards and Requirements for School Registration).