Frequently Asked Questions – Parents/Guardians
1. What is the Back to School Payment?
The Back to School Payment Scheme was initiated in 2006 to help parents purchase important items to support their child’s capacity to achieve good educational outcomes. The Northern Territory Government increased the Back to School Payment from $50 to $75 in 2009.
The scheme entitles parents or guardians of students from preschool to Year 12 to $75 worth of educational items in Term 1 of each school year. Parents of preschool students enrolling in Term 2 or Term 3 can access the entitlement during the term their child first enrols.
The entitlement can be used by parents of students enrolled in government or non‑government schools to offset the cost of textbooks, stationery, uniforms or other essential school items that parents are expected to provide. From 2011, this includes school travel costs (i.e. Student ID card) and services associated with the standard curriculum program (i.e. school camps and excursions).
2. Who is eligible for the Back to School Payment Scheme?
All parents or guardians of Northern Territory students enrolled from preschool to Year 12 in Term 1 are eligible for the scheme, provided their child has not previously enrolled in another NT School in 2012. This includes government schools, non-government schools, home-educated students, and those students who study by correspondence.
Parents or guardians of preschool students enrolled in a Northern Territory school can access the scheme at the time the student enrols in Term 1, 2 or 3, provided their child has not previously enrolled in another Northern Territory school in 2012.
3. When will I get the voucher?
Vouchers are no longer issued as part of the Back to School Payment Scheme. If the student has previously enrolled in a Northern Territory school, parents will receive a letter before Term 1 outlining the details of the scheme. Access to the $75 entitlement is triggered by enrolment and not receipt of the letter.
4. What is the School Record of Payment form?
School Record of Payment forms will be used by schools to record the eligible purchases made for each student. The form is maintained and kept by the school and when parents make eligible purchases for their child they will sign the form to confirm they want the Back to School Payment applied to the purchase. Schools may also use other documentation signed by parents to show that parents want to apply the Back to School Payment to a purchase. This will be kept with the Record of Payment form for the student.
Parents will be given the option of having the bottom half of the Record of Payment form as a record of goods and services received.
5. When will I get the letter and School Record of Payment form?
Parents will receive a letter in January 2012 outlining the details of the Back to School Payment Scheme. The school will keep and update your child’s School Record of Payment form. However, parents can request a copy of the form to keep if they wish.
6. Where can I use the entitlement?
You can only use the entitlement to make eligible purchases through your child’s school. Purchases cannot be used at shopping centres, supermarkets, takeaway food outlets etc.
7. What can I use the entitlement for?
The entitlement can be used to purchase from the child’s school essential school items including books, stationary, uniforms. It can also be used to pay for costs associated with school excursions, and educational travel such as Student ID cards. The entitlement cannot be used at the school canteen or for voluntary parent contributions. The entitlement cannot be provided in cash.
School staff and school councils can advise parents of the type of items that can be purchased through the school, within the specified guidelines. However it is the parent’s choice as to how they wish to utilise the entitlement within the specific guidelines.
8. Does the 2012 entitlement have an expiry date?
The entitlement must be used by the end of Term 1, 2012 – Thursday 5 April 2012.
The only exceptions to this are preschool students enrolled in a Northern Territory school for the first time in terms 2 or 3 who can access the entitlement during the term they first enroll.
9. Can I use my 2011 Back to School voucher in 2012 if it has a remaining balance?
No. The 2011 Back to School vouchers expired on 1 April 2011. The 2012 entitlement expires on 5 April 2012.
10. Do I have to use the entitlement all at once or, for example, can I use it for something worth $20 in February and then for something else in March?
You can make multiple purchases at different times to the total value of $75 until 5 April 2012. The School Record of Payment form held by the school will show the amount you have already purchased. Parents may request a copy of the School Record of Payment form for their own records.
11. Can I use the Back to School Payment Scheme to pay voluntary parent contributions?
No. The entitlement cannot be redeemed for voluntary parent contributions.
12. Why can’t I use it to pay voluntary parent contributions?
The Back to School Payment Scheme was introduced by the Northern Territory Government as a means to help students purchase important items that directly support their capacity to achieve good educational outcomes. The voluntary parent contributions allow schools to provide items and services beyond those that are strictly essential, but that add to students’ educational experiences.
13. Are there any other conditions on the entitlement?
Yes. The entitlement:
- can be used for essential school items such as school uniforms, books, school stationery, excursions and travel costs such as the Student ID card
- can only be used at the Northern Territory school your child is first enrolled in for Term 1, 2012
- is not redeemable in part or whole for cash
- is not redeemable at the school canteen or for voluntary parent contributions
- cannot be used by another student
- is valid to 5 April 2012.
14. Can I exchange the entitlement for cash?
No, you cannot exchange the entitlement for cash. It must be used for essential school items for the student from their school. Any balance remaining must be spent on items before 5 April 2012, and cash change will not be issued.
15. Can my child use the entitlement?
While it is preferable that a parent/guardian uses the entitlement, it is acceptable for older students to use the entitlement for essential school items with the permission of parents/guardians. However, neither DET nor the school accepts responsibility if the student uses the entitlement without the parent’s permission.
16. What happens if my child changes school and I haven’t used the full entitlement?
The entitlement – or the balance remaining of it – is not transferable to other schools within the Northern Territory. The $75 entitlement must be redeemed at the school where the child was first enrolled in Term 1 2012.
17. My child attends a non-government school, are they entitled to the Back to School Payment Scheme?
Yes. Every student enrolled in a Northern Territory school from preschool to Year 12 is entitled to the payment.
18. How will I get the payment if my child attends a non-government school?
The process is the same as for government schools.Parents will receive a letter before Term 1 outlining the details of the Back to School Payment Scheme. Entitlement to the scheme is triggered by enrolment and not receipt of the letter.
19. What happens if I’ve already paid for a school uniform, books or stationery? What else can I use the entitlement for?
You can use the entitlement for any essential school item available at the child’s school. If you are unsure what to spend it on, please contact the school to discuss the options available.
20. Is the entitlement taxable? Will parents have to claim the entitlement as income?
No. The Back to School Payment Scheme will not be taxable and does not need to be included on your income tax statement.
21. Where can I access further information?
Further information is available on the DET website or from your child’s school.