Innovation Program: Disability Strategy Initiatives

Partnership with Giant Steps


Address behavioural concerns for students with autism spectrum disorder through practical initiatives.

Measure of success

Improved learning and wellbeing outcomes for students with autism through the effectiveness of professional learning and practical strategies.

All measures:

  • Learning

  • Wellbeing

  • Teacher and SLSO application of professional learning


Partner school: Lane Cove West Public School

External partner: Giant Steps


This Disability Strategy initiative is building the capacity of teachers and school learning support officers (SLSOs) to support students through professional learning and evidence-based practical strategies.

The project is in partnership with Giant Steps, an educational centre for children with autism and their families.

Students with autism in mainstream classes are involved across Kindergarten to Year 6.

Play program

Objective: Developing the social skills of students by moving from structured play to cooperative independent play.

Measure of success: Reduced student behaviour incidents.

All measures:

  • Behaviour

  • Attendance

Partner school: Hobartville Public School


This Disability Strategy initiative is a classroom and playground-based play program. The project is equipping students with better play skills to cope in the playground by learning the rules of play and engagement. The aim is for students to develop better coping skills and an ability to engage in class activities.

It involves 20 students from Kindergarten to Year 2 across two mainstream and support unit classes.

The idea for the project came from observing that many students entering kindergarten had limited play or cooperative ability skills during school transition programs held in Terms 3 and 4 of the year before they start school.

Name: Loose parts play

Objective: Promote greater inclusion between support unit and mainstream students by expanding the school’s loose parts play program.

Measure of success Improved student learning and wellbeing.

All measures:

  • Student interactions, participation, and physical activity

  • Engagement and wellbeing

  • Attendance

  • Behaviour

  • Learning

Partner school: Five Dock Public School


This Disability Strategy initiative involves children engaging in play with movable materials that can be constructed and reconstructed with no set scenario or instruction.

The school’s program has been expanded to three days a week to engage students in support unit and mainstream classes across the school in open-ended play. The program started in late 2019 in response to observations of a lack of meaningful play, and often sedentary and self-excluding behaviour, in students from the support unit. The program was extended to students in mainstream classes to help address observed difficulties in playground interactions and engaging in unstructured play. A sample group of students is being observed over time to measure impact.

Name: Impact 4 all

Objective: Build teaching capacity to support the diverse learning needs of students with disability through skill-sharing between mainstream and school for specific purposes (SSP) teachers.

Measure of success

Build a support system that helps children with disability thrive academically and develop good physical, mental and emotional health.

All measures:

  • Teacher confidence

  • Teacher participation and uptake

  • Attendance of professional learning sessions

Partner schools:

  • Chalmers Road School

  • Lucas Gardens School

  • Strathfield South High School

  • Victoria Avenue Public School

  • Strathfield South Public School

  • Concord Public School

  • Marie Bashir Public School

  • Homebush West Public School

  • Enfield Public School

  • Homebush Public School


This Disability Strategy initiative is designed to empower teachers and executive staff in mainstream and support units to build their confidence, experience, skills and capacity to improve outcomes for students with disability.

The project is a joint initiative between Chalmers Road School, Lucas Gardens School, Strathfield South High School and Victoria Avenue Public School that is collaborating with a wider network of schools in the Strathfield network. It involves 40 teachers and one education consultant.

Name: Adapted texts

Objective: Allow students in a support class to access curriculum-related concepts, information and narratives on the same basis as their peers in mainstream classes by using adapted versions of texts.

Measure of success Effectiveness of adapted texts in improving language comprehension.

All measures:

  • Adapted text assessment scores (Vocabulary, opinion, inferential, and literal comprehension)

  • On task and off task behaviour

  • Teacher, parent and SLSO interview

  • Student interviews in relation to abstract concepts, supported by visuals

Partner school: Victoria Avenue Public School


This Disability Strategy initiative assesses the potential for students with moderate intellectual disability and/or autism to access the curriculum in an age-appropriate way through the use of adapted versions of texts studied by their mainstream peers.

This project is based on the reading theory in Scarborough’s Reading Rope (2001). Word recognition is not required of the students. Background knowledge, vocabulary, language structures, verbal reasoning and literacy knowledge are explicitly taught and supported. Visual supports, including primary sources, are used wherever possible.

The project aims to help students:

  • improve literal and inferential comprehension

  • improve ability to form and support opinions

  • demonstrate understanding of abstract concepts.

It involves seven students with autism and/or intellectual disability and several with ADHD in a Stage 3 class.


Objective: Support students’ socio-emotional needs including increase self-determination, agency and academic engagement, and decrease anxiety levels.

Measure of success Improved student learning and wellbeing and teacher confidence and self-efficacy.

Measures include:

  • Students

  • Anxiety levels

  • Self-determination

  • Self awareness

  • Social skills

  • Teachers

  • Self-determination knowledge and opportunity

  • Teacher rating scale of student engagement

  • Teacher self-efficacy

Partner school: Vincentia High School

External partner: Dr Amanda Webster, University of Wollongong


This Disability Strategy initiative uses a multi-tiered approach to support secondary students with additional mental health and socioemotional needs. It trials a self-assessment, goal setting, action planning and reflection (SAGAR) process that has an emerging evidence base for improving student wellbeing.

It also aims to increase the effectiveness of teachers supporting students’ socioemotional needs. It involves students in social emotional learning classes in Years 7 and 8 and 10 teachers.

Name: Connect workshops

Objective: Establish a platform for support staff and families to access networking opportunities and practical strategies for supporting students with disability.

Measure of success Improved access to tools and supports to meet the needs of students with disability.

All measures:

  • Workshop effectiveness

  • Student participation

  • Student behaviour

  • Student learning

Partner schools: Windale Public School


This Disability Strategy initiative involves targeted training workshops for support staff, families and community members to build capability and community networking.

Four workshops for support staff and two workshops for families and community members are delivered by experts from the disability and education sectors.

The topics of the workshops to date include sensory integration in the classroom and language development skills.

Name: Enhancing school learning support officers (SLSOs)

Objective: Improve the classroom impact of SLSOs and student learning and wellbeing through a collaborative professional learning model.

Measure of success Improved student learning and wellbeing.

All measures:

  • Professional learning outcomes

  • Student wellbeing

  • Student learning

  • Parent perceptions

Partner schools:

  • Homebush West Public School

  • Marie Bashir Public School

  • Homebush Public School

  • Enfield Public School

  • Strathfield South Public School

External partner: Bolster Education


This Disability Strategy initiative involves Bolster Education delivering professional development to SLSOs to improve their impact in the classroom on student learning and wellbeing.

Fortnightly professional development sessions for SLSOs will include coaching on effective interactions and evidence-based interventions. Teachers will be included to strengthen their ability to create effective partnerships with SLSOs.

Name: Zones of regulation

Objective: Foster an environment that supports developing self-regulation skills for students with disability by trialling and evaluating zones of regulation.

Measure of success Efficacy of zones of regulation on student self-regulation skills displayed through student attendance, behaviour incidents, engagement in school activities and learning outcomes.

All measures:

  • Major behaviour incidents

  • Loss in learning time

  • Attendance

  • Learning outcomes through the Students with Additional Needs (SWANs) assessment tool

  • Demonstration of learning goals

  • Level of engagement

  • Teacher satisfaction

  • Teacher resilience

  • Parent satisfaction

Partner school: The Ponds School


This Disability Strategy initiative is trialling a systematic, cognitive behavioural approach with students with disability across the school. The approach teaches students to become more aware of their emotions and impulses, manage their sensory needs, and improve their ability to problem solve conflicts.

It involves:

  • creating four zones which identify with specific activities and display visual aids for students

  • lessons and recording weekly video modelling sessions to visually teach children about the zones

  • professional learning to inform all staff of zones

  • resilience training to promote staff wellbeing.


  • Projects and initiatives
Return to top of page Back to top