Inclusive Education for students with disability
Guidance to support the inclusion of students with disability and additional needs in NSW public schools.
Changes since previous version
2022 Oct 10 – updated policy statement, changing the policy name to ‘Inclusive Education for students with disability’ and consolidating the ‘People with Disabilities – Statement of Commitment’ and ‘Assisting Students with Learning Difficulties’ policies.
The updated policy clarifies the roles and responsibilities of all staff in delivering inclusive education. Our legal obligations have not changed since the Disability Standards for Education 2005. It also draws on relevant standards such as the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership Teacher Standards. The policy is supported by new practice resources to support schools to strengthen inclusive practice.
The implementation document ‘Disability Inclusion Action Plan 2016-2020) has been removed. The current Disability Inclusion Action Plan 2021-2025 is on the ‘Strategies and reports’ section of the Education website.
2022 Jan 12 - related document: Specialised Equipment for Students with Disability replaced with: Personalised support for student learning.
2020 Jun 17 – updated contact details.
2012 Sept 26 – An implementation document was removed (Who's going to teach my child?) and minor text changes were made, e.g. Training changed to Communities for the department's title, correct title for Standards added, removal of link to old Disability Action Plan and change of title to DAP implementation document to reflect the department's new title.
2005 – the Government’s Special Education Initiative 2005-2007 commenced involving the allocation of additional teachers aides to special classes and an overhaul of special education services.
From 2004 the Learning Assistance Program provided strengthened support to students experiencing difficulties in learning in regular classes, including students with mild intellectual disabilities and language disorders. STLAs and funding were allocated to schools based on need for a 3 year period 2004-2006.
2000 – the Learning Difficulties Program moved to the allocation of support teachers learning difficulties (STLDs -now support teachers learning assistance (STLAs) based on information from state-wide assessments. The Funding Support Program was introduced to support schools with students with disabilities enrolled in regular classes who met the DET Disability Criteria. Access to funding based on educational support needs was refined.
In 1998 the Special Education Handbook for Schools articulated a new direction and guidelines for the delivery of special education services within NSW public schools with specialist resources and funding at school, district and state levels.
1996 – 10 DET regions were replaced by a number of State Offices and 40 school education districts. A new set of guidelines was developed to assist schools to support students with special education needs. The State Integration Program moved to a model of resourcing schools based on student support needs rather than a category of disability. Schools were encouraged to establish learning support teams to plan for and manage support to all students, including those with special education needs. Special education consultants (now disability consultants) and learning difficulties coordinators (now assistant principals learning assistance APLAs) were appointed to each district.
1993 - Special Education Policy.
Disability Inclusion Action Plan 2016-2020)
Special Education Policy, 1993 - Whos Going to Teach My Child?
- Policy statement
- The NSW Department of Education values the diversity of its school communities and is committed to building a more inclusive education system for all students, regardless of disability, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, nationality, language, gender, sexual orientation or faith.
- Inclusive education means that all students, regardless of disability, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, nationality, language, gender, sexual orientation or faith, can access and fully participate in learning, alongside their similar-aged peers, supported by reasonable adjustments and teaching strategies tailored to meet their individual needs. Inclusion is embedded in all aspects of school life and is supported by culture, policies and everyday practices.
- All students with disability:
- are entitled to enrol in their local government school if they are eligible to attend
- are welcomed and included in all aspects of school life
- can access and fully participate in learning alongside their peers
- are supported to express their views, set goals and self-advocate
- are supported by reasonable adjustments and personalised support so they are engaged and learning to their fullest capability.
- In line with the Disability Standards for Education 2005, all staff must:
- implement reasonable adjustments for students with disability to support them to enrol and participate in all aspects of school life, on the same basis as students without disability
- consult students and their parents or carers on reasonable adjustments
- support students with disability to access the curriculum through reasonable adjustments and personalised support
- develop and implement strategies to prevent harassment, discrimination and victimisation of students with disability.
- In line with effective practice, all staff should:
- work in partnership with students, parents and carers, external service providers and the community, to achieve the best outcomes for students with disability
- support students, parents and carers with key transition points
- model inclusive practice to promote social and cultural inclusion of students with disability
- participate in professional learning about supporting the inclusion of students with disability.
- Audience and applicability
- All staff employed by the department, including all contractors, consultants, volunteers and committee members working with the NSW Department of Education.
- This policy reflects requirements under the Education Act 1990 (NSW), Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and Disability Standards for Education 2005. It is informed by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, in particular Article 24 on Education.
- This policy reflects commitments made by the department around diversity and inclusion, including the Disability Strategy, Inclusive Education Statement for students with disability, Workforce Diversity policy, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy and Disability Inclusion Action Plan.
- The NSW Department of Education has high expectations of all students. The department will continue to work with parents and carers and disability and education experts to personalise support so that every student is engaged and learning to their fullest capability. For most students, this means attending their local school with individualised support. For some students, it may also mean attending more than one learning environment during their education. For example, attending a school for specific purposes, or a support class in a primary or secondary school.
- This policy reflects responsibilities of schools across a range of departmental policies and procedures and should be read in conjunction with relevant policies and procedures.
- Responsibilities and delegations
- lead and oversee school staff compliance with the policy and promote, model and embed inclusion in school practice and culture
- participate in professional learning for school leaders, and identify and support the professional learning needs for staff to provide inclusive education
- lead curriculum implementation so students with disability are supported to access the same curriculum as their peers in developmentally appropriate ways, and support staff to implement reasonable adjustments for students with disability in line with the Disability Standards for Education 2005
- seek support and advice on complex issues relating to inclusion from the Learning and Wellbeing Coordinator or Directors, Educational Leadership
- ensure students, parents and carers can access appropriate complaint processes and that complaints handling for parents and carers is fair, efficient and accessible
- embed a collaborative, consultative culture of continuous improvement to support the inclusion of students with disability.
- Learning and support team:
- support classroom teachers to identify, assess, respond to and monitor the additional learning needs of students
- undertake a personalised learning and support process that sets measurable learning goals, and which demonstrates a commitment to high expectations
- collaborate with school staff, parents and carers, and external providers, to support reasonable adjustments
- coordinate planning processes and resourcing for students with disability, including documentation, record keeping, communication and monitoring and reviewing processes for adjustments.
- ensure students with disability are included in all aspects of school life
- communicate and engage with students and their parents or carers on their education and adjustments on an ongoing basis
- plan to meet students' diverse learning needs and maintain records of teaching strategies, including differentiation and evidence-based practices
- collaborate with the learning and support team and other department staff and seek advice from external service providers to make reasonable adjustments, as needed
- regularly monitor and review the use and effectiveness of reasonable adjustments
- monitor the progress of individual students with disability against their learning goals, focus on strengths and address areas for improvement where needed
- assess and report progress to students, parents and carers.
- School learning support officers:
- assist the classroom teacher in the teaching and learning environment, including the implementation of individual education and health management programs and individual transition programs
- support students with disability to achieve educational outcomes under the supervision and direction of a teacher.
- Learning and wellbeing coordinators:
- support the development of inclusive practice and school culture
- coordinate professional development and support for schools to enable responsive approaches to meet the learning and wellbeing needs of students with disability
- plan, coordinate and monitor effective learning and wellbeing service provision, resource coordination and maximisation to support schools to meet the learning and support needs of students with disability
- provide advice to build the capacity of principals to meet relevant legal and policy obligations relating to students with disability
- work collaboratively with Directors, Educational Leadership and principals to manage complex issues relating to the inclusion of students with disability.
- Directors, Educational Leadership:
- lead and monitor the implementation of this policy in their network schools
- be a champion of change, model and support inclusive practices and identify and promote good inclusive practice within the network
- promote educational opportunities for students with disability, including collaboration between network schools
- participate in professional learning about supporting students with disability and identify and support principals’ professional learning needs
- support principals to resolve complex issues relating to inclusion
- collaborate with other staff such as learning and support teams to implement inclusive practice within network schools.
- Directors, Delivery Support:
- monitor and support the implementation of this policy within their teams
- support learning and wellbeing coordinators to improve learning and wellbeing outcomes for students with disability
- lead school access to itinerant support teachers and other Delivery Support services
- lead placement panel processes for students with disability seeking additional support
- foster a culture that drives and encourages high standards in the delivery of educational outcomes for all students, including students with disability
- support Directors, Educational Leadership to resolve issues and complaints
- oversee advice to schools on adjustments, including where a school believes an adjustment is unreasonable. Seek advice from Legal Services if a school contacts Delivery Support staff advising they are not able to reach agreement with the student and their parents or carers about adjustments.
- Director, Inclusive Education:
- lead the department's engagement with the National Disability Insurance Agency
- facilitate the Nationally Consistent Collection of Data on School Students with Disability.
- Director, Disability Strategy and Director, Inclusive Education (joint responsibilities):
- support the implementation of this policy across the department
- oversee the development and implementation of research, policy and practice relevant to inclusive education under the Disability Strategy and other related initiatives
- lead and collaborate across the department to develop evidence-based resources, professional learning, and facilitate mentoring and support to strengthen inclusive practice and build the capability of schools to meet the needs of their students
- build an evidence base of best practice to improve outcomes for students with disability for teachers and school leaders to access.
- Group Director, Asset Management Unit:
- oversee changes and upgrades to physical premises for students with disability as soon as reasonably practicable.
- Director, Educational Facilities and Design:
- ensure all new works comply with best practice inclusive design principles, minimum building code requirements, the Disability (Access to Premises - Buildings) Standards 2010 and Educational Facilities Standards and Guidelines
- monitor the evidence base to strengthen access to school premises and to promote dignified access for students with disability.
- Monitoring and review
- The Director, Disability Strategy and the Director, Inclusive Education monitor the implementation of this policy, review its contents to ensure relevance and accuracy, and update it as needed.
Director, Disability Strategy
Director, Inclusive Education