The Act distinguishes between pre-enrolment and enrolment. [See 11O(2)].
"Pre-enrolment" refers to the process of applying for entry to the school. "Enrolment", on the other hand, occurs when attendance at the school commences and the student is first marked as present on the school roll.
Boards will need to operate clearly understandable pre-enrolment policies which include stating a date (or dates) by which applications for enrolment have to be made. Boards would be wise, however, not to include specific dates in their schemes, because they would need to go through the consultation process set out in Section 11H(2) if at a later time they wanted to simply change the date by which pre-enrolment applications must be received. The pro forma enrolment scheme, attached as Appendix 1, includes a general reference to pre-enrolment procedures which boards might find useful.
Boards whose schemes give priority to students living within a certain area may wish to indicate that proof of residence in the area may be required in support of an application and specify the type of proof necessary. Similarly, boards who who are prepared to give priority to siblings may wish to state that proof of a sibling relationship will be required.
If the total number of preference applications is less than the number of places available, all applicants must be enrolled. If there is room for some non-preference students, then the number of these must not exceed the number allowable in the school's integration agreement.
If the total number of applications is greater than the number of places available, unsuccessful applicants must have their names recorded on a waiting list. The waiting list should be set out to show those priority groups in which some or all of the applicants have been unsuccessful. Within each priority group, the unsuccessful applicants should be ranked in order of their distance from the school, or by ballot, or by receipt of application (whichever the scheme provides for). Students on the waiting list may be offered places at a later date if places become available. The waiting list must remain current until the board next notifies the public that it is inviting applications for the next enrolment intake. The waiting list should contain only names and their position on the list. Addresses are not required and indeed, if included, could compromise the privacy of the applicants.
When allocating enrolment places, boards must remember that the highest priority must be given to students for whom the school is reasonably convenient. These students must always be offered enrolment places ahead of those who live at a distance. This means that places must not be allocated on a "first come, first served basis", but must be processed in accordance with priorities set out in the scheme. A possible organisational framework is given in the pro forma enrolment scheme which is attached in Appendix 1.
Some integrated schools offer scholarships. If an integrated school has an enrolment scheme, however, the scholarship should not carry with it an entitlement to enrol at the school. Such an arrangement would be out of step with the purposes and principles of the legislation, which promote transparency and place access to a reasonably convenient school above all other considerations. Furthermore, to offer an "entrance scholarship" would be inconsistent with practices in the non-integrated context, where the offer of "entrance scholarships" is legally impossible. The award of scholarships, therefore, should be held over until a student's right to enrol has been confirmed.