Assisting Students with Learning Difficulties

This policy applies to all staff employed by the department including in school and non-school based positions. It also applies to students who attend NSW public schools and has implications for each school community.

Changes since previous version

Oct 2020 – Policy maintenance, which may include but not limited to, updated contact details, business unit or position titles, typographical, text and style changes and repairing hyperlinks.

Superseded Documents

The education of students with learning difficulties from preschool to year twelve (1987)
The Special Education Handbook for Schools (1997)
The Learning and Assistance Program 2007-2009 (Primary & Central) DN/06/00280 (removed)
Tab A Primary Survey 2006 (removed)
The Learning Assistance Program 2007-2009 (Secondary & Central) DN/06/00281 (removed)
Who's going to teach my child? (removed)

Document History

April 2020 – Updated contact details.

In May 2003 a Low Support Needs Advisory Group was established to recommend ways to allocate $12 million of annual funding from the Funding Support Program (Integration) to strengthen support for students with mild intellectual disabilities and language disorders who were enrolled in regular classes. The advisory group included representatives of key community and school organisations.
The advisory group recommended the establishment of the Learning Assistance Program (LAP) to provide strengthened support to students in regular classes experiencing difficulties in basic areas of learning.  This was done by bringing together the department’s learning difficulties provisions and part of the Funding Support Program.  It also incorporated support classes (language) and the Early School Support Program.
The initial triennium of the Learning Assistance Program: 2004-2006
At the start of 2004, the department implemented LAP across the state for the initial triennium, 2004-2006, to provide strengthened support for students with learning difficulties, language disorders and mild intellectual disabilities who experience difficulties in learning.  The LAP provides a non-categorical approach and maximises resource utilisation and flexibility at the school level.
In 2004-2006 the $105 million Learning Assistance Program is providing 1,357 support teachers learning assistance (STLAs) working across New South Wales in government schools.  These teachers form part of a network of specialist services to assist students in regular classes who need additional support. Annual targeted funding is also allocated to schools for training and development, additional teacher time, teachers’ aide (special) time, teacher release, transfer of duty and program coordination time.
Learning Assistance Program staffing and funding have been allocated to primary, secondary schools for the three year period 2004-2006 based on educational need using longitudinal data drawn from state-wide assessments: BST, ELLA and SNAP.  Representative local committees determined allocations to specific schools based on student performance data and local information.
Principles: Assisting Students with Learning Difficulties
Sept 26, 2012 - References to Learning Assistance Program have been removed and replaced with the phrase Learning and Support, this includes changes to the description of the implementation document and to the webpage to which it links.  A number of reference documents were removed.  No changes to the intent of the document have been made.

  1. Policy statement
    1. In any one school there will be students who may experience difficulties with learning. These difficulties may vary in cause, nature, intensity and duration.
    2. Learning difficulties may arise at any time throughout a student’s school life. Students may experience difficulties in learning because of the ways in which they learn or the rates at which they learn.
    3. Students experiencing difficulties in learning will have differing levels of educational need, which may require the provision of one or more educational support services over varying periods of time.
    4. Prime responsibility for meeting the specific learning needs of students with difficulties in basic areas of learning lies with the school and the classroom teacher.
    5. The school learning and support team plays a key role in ensuring that the specific learning needs of students experiencing difficulties in learning are met.
  2. Audience and applicability
    1. This policy applies to all staff employed by the department including in school and non-school based positions. It also applies to students who attend NSW public schools and has implications for each school community.
  3. Context
    1. The policy complies with the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA, 1992) and the Disability Standards for Education 2005.
    2. This policy reflects commitments made by the NSW Department of Education within its Disability Inclusion Action Plan 2016-2020.
    3. This policy reflects responsibilities of schools indicated within the Curriculum planning and programming, assessing and reporting to parents K-12 Policy.
    4. This policy also reflects the key principles of operation for supporting students with learning difficulties, including those with disabilities.
  4. Responsibilities and delegations
    1. Director, disability, learning and support:
      • approval of policy documents.
    2. Policy owner, director, disability, learning and support:
      • publication and currency of the policy and support material
      • notification to staff of any changes to this policy.
    3. Policy contact person; leader, support and development:
      • provision of advice on interpretation and implementation of the policy.
    4. Leader, support and development:
      • management and oversight of the policy and its implementation
      • provision of advice and assistance to support staff on policy development, implementation and evaluation
      • monitoring, evaluation, review and reporting to the director, disability programs on the implementation of the policy and supporting documents.
    5. Principals are responsible for ensuring implementation of support for students experiencing difficulties in learning. School management plans include the use of Learning and Support resources to improve outcomes for students experiencing difficulties in learning.
    6. Teachers and support staff are responsible for ensuring that students who experience difficulties in learning are assisted according to the policy statement and key principles underpinning support.
    7. Verification of the currency of the department's policy documents by reference to the policy website. PD/2006/0342 is the unique identifier of this policy document. It is the responsibility of the user to verify that this is the current and complete version of the document, located at education.nsw.gov.au/policy-library/policies. Supporting documents should also be referred to in the implementation of this policy.
  5. Monitoring and review
    1. The Director, Disability, Learning and Support will monitor the implementation of this policy and will report annually, or as required, to the Executive.
    2. Principals are responsible for the implementation and monitoring of this policy in their schools.
    3. Directors, Educational Leadership will support principals with the implementation of this policy.
  6. Contact
    1. Leader, Support and Development
      02 7814 2750
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