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 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

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.

Teaching staff

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 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 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’.

Video: Dylan's story: Hobartville Public School

3:55 mins

Meet Dylan, who attends the support unit at his local public school.

Upbeat music.

Children talking.

Woman talking to camera.

I have three children that attend Hobartville Public School.

I have Dylan, who's in year one. He's in the support unit.

My eldest son Ethan is in year three. He's been attending the unit since kindergarten.

On screen text: Kylie, Parent.

And then I have my daughter that has just started kindergarten. She's in mainstream.

And it's just fantastic having all three children at the one school. I love the school.

On screen text: Dylan’s story: Hobartville Public School

Female school principal talking to camera.

On screen text: Lisa Crawford, Principal.

We're a school of about 340 students and 32 of those students are in our support unit.

Having a support unit really benefits for those kids that thrive in a small class setting. They have lots of visuals in the classroom. They're a quieter environment.

Female teacher talking to camera.

On screen text: Cate Clark, Teacher.

We have five classes in our support unit from kindergarten to year 6.

Female school principal talking to camera.

Every student has an individual learning plan. The curriculum is differentiated to meet their specific needs.

Female teacher talking to camera.

We have a number of students with autism.

Young boy talking to female teacher.

My weekend with my family.

Is there anything else you want to write?

Also my mum.

Ok, are we going to say and my mum.

Woman talking to camera.

Dylan has been diagnosed with autism level 2. He finds quite a few things challenging in day to day life.

Acoustic music.

He's a kind, loving soul, loves cuddles from his mum and his dad, loves his family and loves his power tools.

Female teacher talking to camera.

Dylan loves routine and structure. He loves predictability. If you're going to change the routine, he wants to know and he will remind you of it.

Female school principal talking to camera.

The students in our support unit are treated exactly the same way as every child in the school. They are included in the assemblies, classrooms, playgrounds, peer support programs, sport, dancing, creative arts.

Female teacher talking to camera.

We follow the same curriculum as everybody else.

We often do a lot of activities with the mainstream classes.

Inclusion is not just placing a child somewhere. Inclusion is making sure that the students have the skills and the comfort to be doing the activities that we’re asking them to do.

So at the moment we're on the rotation where the children are involved in sculpting. 

If students have a real strength in English or maths, they will actually do, say, the mathematics part of their day in the mainstream class.

Male teacher talking to male student.

They went to the stick house did they?

And those two went to the brick helm.


Female teacher talking to camera.

We've been doing a dance program with Stage 1.

One of our teachers he's been doing a lot of work with robotics across the school K to 6.

Male teacher talking to class.


Children talking.


Upbeat music.

Woman talking to camera.

I love Hobartville.

Dylan’s individual needs are supported by him being able to learn at his own pace with the confidence to proceed at his own pace.

I feel all of my children are included in the school.

They can play together and feel comfortable wherever they are, whether or not it's in the classroom or out in the playground.

NSW Government logo.

End of transcript.


  • Teaching and learning


  • Additional needs

Business Unit:

  • Student Support and Specialist Programs
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