Schools for specific purposes (SSPs)

In some cases you or your local school might suggest your child would benefit from attending a School for Specific Purposes (SSPs).

“I go to school in an SSP. All of the children at my school have additional needs and disabilities. We have an SLSO with the teacher. Our learning is personalised and adjustments are made to meet our needs. Our class is smaller.

My local school helped my family to apply for me to go into this class. My family couldn’t enrol me directly. My family can apply for me to move into a mainstream class or a support class at a mainstream school at any stage of my learning.”

SSPs are schools that support eligible students with a diagnosed intellectual or physical disability, Autism, mental health considerations, sensory processing disorder or behaviour disorders.

SSPs provide intensive levels of support in a specialised setting and a range of support services, depending on the needs of the students. They also have smaller class sizes due to the student's higher needs, and they support students from Kindergarten to Year 12.

SSPs review the placement of each of their students annually or when required. These reviews consider all aspects of a student's personalised learning and support, including whether or not the current placement is best meeting their learning and support needs.

Many SSPs also maintain active links with other nearby schools and their local communities. If your child was to attend an SSP, they may have access to support classes in mainstream schools or mainstream classes, and they would be supported to participate in community activities and training.

Image: SSPs provide intensive levels of support in a specialised setting and a range of support services, depending on the needs of the students.

How can my child enrol in a SSP?

You can’t enrol your child directly into a SSP but your local school can help you with this process.

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 support will meet their needs.
  • An application is completed in consultation 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 it and makes a recommendation.

This application is called an ‘access request’.

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.

Other schools for specific purposes

Other schools for specific purposes provide intensive levels of support for students who have disruptions to their education due to ill health or injury, complex learning difficulties or significant mental health needs.

Hospital schools

Hospital schools provide educational services for students who are inpatients in some hospitals in NSW. Hospital schools provide an emotionally supportive environment and assist students to return to school after hospitalisation with as little disruption as possible.

Tutorial centres and programs

Tutorial centres and programs cater for students who have been identified as requiring intensive behavioural and educational support. Tutorial centres and programs generally cater for students in years 5 to 12.

Suspension centres

Suspension centres cater for students who are on long suspension (5-20 days) and have been identified by their school as likely to benefit from a structured program to assist their successful return to schooling as soon as possible.


  • Teaching and learning


  • Additional needs

Business Unit:

  • Student Support and Specialist Programs
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