Inclusive Education for students with disability

Direction and guidance on supporting the inclusion of students with disability in NSW public schools.
Version Date Description of changes Approved by
V04.0.0 14/03/2024 Updated under the 2023 Policy and procedure review program, including conversion into the new template, and improving readability. New procedure document, Personalised learning and support procedures, added to policy. There are no changes to overall intent of the policy. Executive Director, Inclusion and Wellbeing

Document history

2022 Oct 10 updated policy statement, policy name changed from 'People with Disabilities Statement of Commitment' to Inclusive Education for students with disability' and consolidated the policy with the 'Assisting Students with Learning Difficulties' policy.

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.

Superseded documents

Disability Inclusion Action Plan 2016-2020)
Special Education Policy, 1993 - Whos Going to Teach My Child?


All staff, including all contractors, consultants, volunteers and committee members working with the NSW Department of Education.

  1. Policy statement
    1. 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.
    2. All students with disability:
      • are entitled to enrol in their local government school if they are eligible to attend
      • will be treated on the same basis as a student without disability and without experiencing discrimination
      • will be welcomed, accepted and engaged in all aspects of school life free from harassment and discrimination
      • are empowered to express their views, set goals, self-advocate and participate in decision-making processes about their education
      • will be supported by reasonable adjustments and personalised support.
  2. Context
    1. The policy reflects requirements under the Education Act 1990 (NSW), Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and Disability Standards for Education 2005. It also draws on important information from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, particularly Article 24 on Education and the department's Inclusive Education Statement for students with disability (PDF 246 KB).
    2. The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 defines disability very broadly. Students with disability do not need to have a formal diagnosis as their disability may be imputed based on their needs.
    3. The department has high expectations of all students and will continue to work with parents and carers, as well as disability and education experts, to personalise support so that every student is engaged and learning to their fullest capability.
    4. This policy reflects the responsibilities of schools across a range of department policies and procedures. It should be read in conjunction with relevant policies and procedures.
    5. The Personalised learning and support procedures support this policy.
  3. Policy contacts
    1. Director, Inclusive Education
      Leader, Support and Development
  4. Monitoring the policy
    1. The Director, Inclusive Education monitors the implementation of this policy, regularly reviews its contents to ensure relevance and accuracy, and updates it as needed.
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