Specialist support classes
In some cases your local school might suggest applying through the access request process for a placement for your child in a support class.
What are specialist support classes?
This class could be in mainstream school, or a School for Specific Purposes. Support classes are only available in some of our primary schools, high schools and central schools across NSW.
They provide specialist and intensive support for eligible students with a diagnosed intellectual or physical disability, Autism Spectrum Disorder, mental health diagnosis, sensory processing disorder or behaviour disorders.
“I go to school in a support class in a mainstream school. Not all schools have support classes. All of my classmates have individual needs which require extra assistance.
We have an SLSO (teacher’s aide) with the teacher. Our learning is personalised and adjustments are made to meet our needs. Our class is smaller but I get to participate in activities with my peers in mainstream classes at the same school.
My local school helped my family to apply for me to go into this class. “
Class sizes in support classes are usually smaller than in mainstream classes because of the students’ higher needs. Class sizes will depend on the class type and, in some cases, the students' additional learning and support needs.
Every support class has a teacher and a school learning support officer (SLSO), and every student will have planning undertaken for their personalised learning and support that captures their needs and goals.
The class teachers are responsible for planning personalised learning and support for each student, in consultation with parents and carers and allied health professionals where it is appropriate.
If your child is placed in a specialist support class, they will have the same opportunity as students in mainstream classes to participate in the school’s and community activities, such as school sports and assemblies.
They will have access to:
- support teachers transition
- the same specialist provisions as those available to students in mainstream classes, including disability provisions from the NESA for practical support in examinations
- transport assistance under the Assisted School Travel Program, if they are eligible.
They will also be able to apply for access to itinerant support teachers (hearing or vision).
If your child is enrolled in a support class in a mainstream school, there is the flexibility for them to undertake some of their learning in other mainstream classes in the same school.
This is largely dependent upon the resources available and their personalised learning and support needs.
How can my child be placed in a specialist support class?
You can’t enrol your child directly into a support class but your local school can help you with this process. The first step is to speak to your child’s school.
The school will work with you to determine if your child is eligible and if this type of support will meet their needs.
This option is available when:
- Your child has significant support needs and meets the department's disability criteria.
- This type of specialist support will meet their educational needs.
- An application is completed in collaboration with you. This is usually arranged by the learning and support team at the school your child is enrolled in.
A local support class panel considers the application and decides an outcome.
This application is called an ‘access request’.