Educational options

There are a range of services and programs available to support your child in NSW public schools.

Our main aim is to make sure your child can go to your local public school wherever possible.

You have an important role when it comes to deciding where your child will learn.

You are always welcome to discuss your child’s education, specific needs and support options with staff at your local school.

Mainstream classes

Most students with disability are supported directly in their local school in mainstream classes.

Your local school can give your child support in mainstream classes through personalised planning and adjustments. Schools receive resources to support the learning and wellbeing of all students, including those with disability and additional learning and support needs.

All students can be supported in mainstream classes without a confirmation of disability or the need for a formal application process. Targeted or additional specialist support, however, does require a separate application process.

Extra support

If your child has a disability, and meets the department’s eligibility criteria, extra support may be provided in mainstream classrooms through Integration Funding Support.

To do this, an Access request application will be completed by your local school. If the application is successful it may mean the school has access to additional teachers or School learning support officers (SLSOs). It may also mean that your child’s classroom teacher is given more time for professional learning and to plan adjustments for your child.

Vision or hearing support

If your child is blind or has low vision, or is deaf or hard of hearing, an application can be organised and submitted by your local school to apply for an Itinerant Support teacher Hearing or Vision.

Video: Monty's story: Woollahra Public School

Duration: 5:12 min

Meet Monty and learn about the support he receives at his local public school.


Playful music.


On screen text: Monty.

Young boy talking to camera.

Monty Hui is my full name and I am seven years old.

On screen text: Monty’s story: Woollahra Public School.

Man talking to camera.

So when Monty was born, we discovered that there was an issue with his brain.

On screen text: Danny, Parent.

A rare disease called Ponto cerebellar hyperplasia. It generally affects all of his muscles. But apart from that, in terms of his school life, his family life, you know, he does everything the same as everybody else. 

We always wanted all of our kids to go to our local school because that's our community.

Woman talking to camera.

On screen text; Nicole Molloy, Principal.

Monty’s had a really successful first three years at Woollahra.

1, 2, 3.

Female teacher talking to camera.

On screen text: Natalie Malsem, Teacher.

Monty is a kind, caring, enthusiastic student. He is a real go-getter.

We really work on having a mindset of inclusion. There should never be a sense that any child's disadvantaged because they have any individual needs.

Young boy talking to female teacher in playground.

I also kind of like lest we forget

Sorry which one?

Lest we forget.

Oh lest we forget. That’s beautiful

Man talking to camera.

The school was very supportive in getting the school ready for Monty's inclusion. So one thing I was quite concerned about initially was how Monty would get around the school.

Young boy talking to camera.

Because I don't know how to walk.

Woman talking to camera.

These buildings were built in the 1800s with no kind of sense of a need to be inclusive and have access and meet the needs of kids with disabilities.

Man talking to camera.

Engaging the school as early as possible is something I'd encourage every family to do.

The bathroom was renovated. Ramps were put in for Monty to enter kindergarten.

Children talking.



Female teacher talking to children in classroom.

Find your space, give a little shake, wiggle out the silliness

Female teacher talking to camera.

All the children have learning needs, diverse learning needs. And so it's just getting to know Monty.

Female teacher talking to children in classroom.

Children talking.

Is it a 2 on my head?

Man talking to camera.

So teachers like Natalie are fantastic. What Monty needs is someone that has the confidence to try things.

Female teacher talking to children in classroom.

I’m thinking that mine could be naughty Natalie.

Marvellous Monty.

Playful music.

Female teacher talking to camera.

I think he can do anything he wants to. And I've really encouraged that independence.

Uplifting music.

Children playing.

3 o’clock.

Especially in collaboration with Danny and Jess, Monty's parents. He will give anything a go, and with a smile on his face.

Young boy talking to camera.

I do some dancing moves.

Female teacher talking to camera.

I use a range of things to support Monty. So there's the iPad, we use the iPad to support Monty with all his writing.

We also have to make adjustments when it comes to like cutting and pasting. So I've worked with the OT to get scissors that work with Monty.

And of course, there's the mobility.

Female teacher talking to class.

Monty can you go get your lunch?

Female teacher talking to camera.

How we're going to get Monty safely outside and fluently so he's not left behind.

Man talking to camera.

Kids just get inclusion. They don't need to be taught. And they are amazing at treating Monty like every other kid and supporting him as well at the same time, in a really nice way.

Female teacher talking to camera.

They like the feeling of helping each other. Doing it for each other. They know how important it is to learn and to grow.

Female teacher talking to class.

A polar bear.

Man talking to camera.

We ran into a few challenges last year. We had a bit of trouble getting access to the school library.

The library is Monty's favourite place. He loves to read. So I would do anything to make sure he gets that experience.

Woman talking to camera.

The lift's not going to be ready till 2021.

We've created another library space until that's ready.

Female teacher talking to camera.

It is challenging at times meeting his needs. But it's worth it. It's worth it to see it in on Monty's face like it is worth it. Sorry, but it really is because he's such a lovely boy.

Woman talking to camera.

It's important because that that's our job. No child is disadvantaged and equity drives everything that we do.

NSW Government logo.

End of transcript.

Support classes

Support classes are located in some mainstream primary schools, high schools, central schools and Schools for Specific Purposes (SSPs) across NSW.

Support classes have fewer students and provide a specialist setting where your child can learn with other students who require similar adjustments.

They support students with diverse needs including those with intellectual disability, mental illness, autism, physical disability or sensory disability, and students with behaviour disorders.

Your local school will discuss what specialist supports your child is eligible for, and will complete the application with you if this is the most appropriate option for your child.

This option is available when:

  • Your child has complex support needs and meets the department's eligibility criteria.
  • An access request application is completed by the school in collaboration with you and signed by you. A placement panel considers this application and makes a recommendation.

Video: Dylan's story: Hobartville Public School

Duration: 3:55 min

Meet Dylan, who attends the support unit at his local public school.


Upbeat music.

Children talking.

Woman talking to camera.

I have three children that attend Hobartville Public School.

I have Dylan, who's in year one. He's in the support unit.

My eldest son Ethan is in year three. He's been attending the unit since kindergarten.

On screen text: Kylie, Parent.

And then I have my daughter that has just started kindergarten. She's in mainstream.

And it's just fantastic having all three children at the one school. I love the school.

On screen text: Dylan’s story: Hobartville Public School

Female school principal talking to camera.

On screen text: Lisa Crawford, Principal.

We're a school of about 340 students and 32 of those students are in our support unit.

Having a support unit really benefits for those kids that thrive in a small class setting. They have lots of visuals in the classroom. They're a quieter environment.

Female teacher talking to camera.

On screen text: Cate Clark, Teacher.

We have five classes in our support unit from kindergarten to year 6.

Female school principal talking to camera.

Every student has an individual learning plan. The curriculum is differentiated to meet their specific needs.

Female teacher talking to camera.

We have a number of students with autism.

Young boy talking to female teacher.

My weekend with my family.

Is there anything else you want to write?

Also my mum.

Ok, are we going to say and my mum.

Woman talking to camera.

Dylan has been diagnosed with autism level 2. He finds quite a few things challenging in day to day life.

Acoustic music.

He's a kind, loving soul, loves cuddles from his mum and his dad, loves his family and loves his power tools.

Female teacher talking to camera.

Dylan loves routine and structure. He loves predictability. If you're going to change the routine, he wants to know and he will remind you of it.

Female school principal talking to camera.

The students in our support unit are treated exactly the same way as every child in the school. They are included in the assemblies, classrooms, playgrounds, peer support programs, sport, dancing, creative arts.

Female teacher talking to camera.

We follow the same curriculum as everybody else.

We often do a lot of activities with the mainstream classes.

Inclusion is not just placing a child somewhere. Inclusion is making sure that the students have the skills and the comfort to be doing the activities that we’re asking them to do.

So at the moment we're on the rotation where the children are involved in sculpting. 

If students have a real strength in English or maths, they will actually do, say, the mathematics part of their day in the mainstream class.

Male teacher talking to male student.

They went to the stick house did they?

And those two went to the brick helm.


Female teacher talking to camera.

We've been doing a dance program with Stage 1.

One of our teachers he's been doing a lot of work with robotics across the school K to 6.

Male teacher talking to class.


Children talking.


Upbeat music.

Woman talking to camera.

I love Hobartville.

Dylan’s individual needs are supported by him being able to learn at his own pace with the confidence to proceed at his own pace.

I feel all of my children are included in the school.

They can play together and feel comfortable wherever they are, whether or not it's in the classroom or out in the playground.

NSW Government logo.

End of transcript.

Video: Jorden's story: Penrith Valley School

Duration: 4:11 min
Meet Jorden and hear about his development and growth at a School for Specific Purposes.


Piano music.

Teenage boy speaking to camera.

On screen text:

Well, it started in year seven. I was getting into fights and talking back to the teachers. Constantly getting suspended, constantly being in the principal's office.

On screen text: Jorden, student.

Any time that the school rang my Mum, she'll know what it's for.

I was going down a really bad path.

On screen text: Jorden’s story: Penrith Valley School.

The office called me down to, to the principal's office. They handed me the note and they said this is the note so you can go to Penrith Valley, you know.

Acoustic music.

And I just started, you know, breaking down, I didn't want to leave.

Woman speaking to camera.

On screen text: Jacqui Dahl, Principal.

Coming to Penrith Valley is about a new start and it's about working out where you'd like to go and having the opportunity to build your skills so that you can get there.

Penrith Valley School is a school for specific purposes. It's for students who have found mainstream classes very challenging.

Many of our students will have a number of things that they've been diagnosed with.

Might be depression, might be anxiety, conditions like PTSD, ADHD, ODD. Could be autism.

Male school teacher talking to students.

Monday morning, milk carton’s empty. Only bread and butter, can’t rely on my mother.

Male school teacher talking to camera.

On screen text: Jake Matthews, Teacher.

We have smaller classes at Penrith Valley. We have a great opportunity for them to get some one on one tuition. They've got great opportunity to work on some behaviour management strategy. Mindfulness is one, wellbeing is another. A lot of trauma informed practice so we mentor them.

Teenage boy talking to male school teacher.

I said some good stuff about my mother and now I’m saying I can’t rely on her?

Actually, it’s a little bit deeper than I can’t rely on my mother. Basically what we’re saying is that you want to be responsible, you want to be mature.

Teenage boy talking to camera.

Walking away, you know, breathing, you know, anything to sort of calm me down.

Woman talking to teenage boy while boxing with him.

Stand up and again.

Teenage boy talking to camera.

I do boxing and martial arts. So that is a very big sort of stress reliever.

AIM, you know, the Aboriginal program.

My name’s Jorden. I’m from the Kamilaroi tribe.

That has really helped me, you know.

Woman talking to camera.

On screen text: Sadini Handunnetti, AIME mentor.

Jorden's been a great participant in the AIM mentoring program. He's attended our program days and has become a really strong part of the network of students here at the school.

Teenage boy talking to camera.

I learned guitar, piano. I've learned how to sing.

Rap music.

Milk carton’s empty.

Come on, this is it.

Sun is storming. Still I got plenty. Hate it when they don’t understand my brother.

Male school teacher talking to camera.

And as you see him rapping, you know, he's getting into it and just loves being around all the guys, all the indigenous kids in the class.

Teenage boy talking to camera.

In history, I've been, titled as the top history student.

I'm doing work experience at Bunnings.

Male school teacher talking to camera.

It's a prime example of what any child coming to Penrith Valley has the opportunity to do is what Jorden’s done.

Guitar music.

Teenage boy talking to camera.

Currently I am beginning my transition back.

Woman talking to camera.

For Jorden and for a number of our students, transitioning back to a mainstream school is very, very important.

Teenage boy talking to camera.

When I finish year 12, I will either go to uni or TAFE and at the moment I'm really pulling towards TAFE.

Woman talking to camera.

This is an absolutely new beginning. Jorden's going back to St Clair High School as a different person.

Teenage boy talking to camera.

I'm proud of myself, you know. From what I have, I’ve done in the past to what I've done now, I feel like it's a very big change and it needed to happen.

NSW Government logo.

End of transcript.

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