Excellence for schools for specific purposes

In all our schools, including schools for specific purposes, individual student performance and growth is used to guide school directions and set targets and other improvement measures.

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Schools for specific purposes

Schools for specific purposes (SSPs) are some of our most unique and specialised settings in NSW education, with professional and highly trained teachers, support staff and committed leaders.

In SSPs individual student performance and growth is used to guide school directions and set targets and other improvement measures. Evidence for school improvement is based on a range of sources including:

  • performance data
  • teacher professional judgement
  • professional observation
  • student and community feedback.

Improvement measures are used to track the impact of the interventions to continually improve the outcomes for students. Information is also available on Excellence for students with disability and additional learning needs.

Improvement measures

All aspects of strategic planning in your SSP, including setting targets and other improvement measures, is context driven. Targets and improvement measures will be carefully constructed to focus on measures based on an aggregate of individual student performance and growth.

Your school may identify measures of improvement such as wellbeing, engagement, communication and academic attainment.

Consistent teacher judgement is imperative for successful planning, implementation and assessment of student learning and wellbeing.

Preparing collaboratively

In preparation for the new planning cycle, your school will work with your Director, Educational Leadership to set appropriate and realistic improvement measures based on school determined baseline data.

Improvement measures are used to compare the progress of a school to its previous performance and not to the performance of other schools.

Improvement measures are included in the Strategic Improvement Plan (SIP), and progress is tracked annually. The impact of strategies and initiatives on student learning and wellbeing outcomes is evaluated in a process of continual school improvement.

Determining relevant measures

You can, in consultation with your DEL, choose measures which you already capture and value, for example:

  • literacy outcomes
  • numeracy outcomes
  • assistive technology outcomes
  • student community or vocational outcomes
  • student independence measures
  • curricula outcomes
  • increased staff capacity to meet student need
  • student engagement in learning.

A range of contexts

Literacy and numeracy improvement measures in your school may be more explicit depending on the context. To measure the improvements made in literacy and numeracy, a range of data sources are required to support assessment and evaluation. These are collected from internal sources and alternative measures, for example:

  • PLAN2 and precursor indicators for Literacy and Numeracy
  • Students with Additional Needs (SWANs)
  • Goal Attainment Scales (GAS)
  • Personalised Learning and Support Plans (PLSPs)
  • The Passport for learning (the Passport).

The Assessment for Complex Learners (AfCL) project is an avenue for schools to trial new assessments for complex learners and students with additional learning needs as improvement measures. Contact the AfCL project team for further detail.

Unique platforms and consistent judgement

Many SSPs have developed their own platforms for measuring improvement and growth. As these platforms are designed to measure individual student improvement and are competency driven, they rely on teacher judgement.

It is vital therefore, that judgements are moderated to ensure accuracy and consistency. Consistent teacher judgement in your SSP forms an integral part of professional learning.

When supporting students with complex health care needs, you should be mindful of individual circumstances when setting attendance targets, ensuring that targets are realistic and attainable. Attendance targets may be useful to measure the impact of initiatives that support student engagement and participation.

Evidence building

Many SSPs prioritise strategies that improve student growth in self-regulation, interpersonal skills and attendance to learning routines and structures.

Evidence building platforms and regulation continuums that support the measurement of these skills can be used, although personalisation may be needed to suit the needs of the individual student within a setting. The TEACCH Method (from Applied Behaviour Analysis Program guide) may be useful in this context.

Evidence of changes, in self-regulation and/or positive behaviour and behaviours of concern, referral data could be used to measure student progress. Baseline data and data entry and tracking models need to be suitable for each context. Personalised learning and support plans can form the basis for collecting baseline data and measuring growth of student outcomes, predominantly in the areas of achievement, engagement, wellbeing and behaviour.

Syllabus outcomes

Students with disability access syllabus outcomes and content in a range of ways, including through the K-12 syllabus outcomes and life skills content. They do this with or without accommodations and adjustments as appropriate to their needs. These supports enable students with disability to engage with syllabus outcomes and content in order to achieve success.

Read more about diversity in learning on the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) website: Special education Kindergarten - Year 10 and Special education Year 11 - Year 12.

Learn more

Find out more about School Excellence in Action.


  • Teaching and learning


  • Access and equity
  • Accessibility
  • Additional needs
  • Curriculum
  • Diversity and inclusion
  • Educational accountability
  • Health, safety and wellbeing
  • Inclusive practice
  • Professional development
  • School Excellence Framework
  • Teaching

Business Unit:

  • School Performance – South
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