Student and parent voice

Student, parent and educator voice

We are committed to hearing the voices of students with disability, their parents and carers, and educators in NSW public schools. We are using their feedback to inform how we build an inclusive education system.

The department engaged independent organisations to gather the views of these groups on how we can strengthen inclusive education for students with disability.

This research captures the commitment and effective practices currently happening in NSW public schools as well as areas that could be strengthened.

Feedback from students and parents and carers

Key themes

JFA Purple Orange held fourteen focus groups and seventeen interviews with 75 participants: 41 current NSW public school students aged 7-17 years, 6 former students aged 19-25 years, and 28 parents and carers.

Participants shared examples of what was working well:

  • Most current students felt encouraged, motivated and supported by their teachers.
  • Several past students described positive experiences of engaging and learning alongside their peers.
  • Authentic connection with students and teachers where the teacher has made the effort to get to know each student and the student feels seen, heard, and understood.
  • Students participating in negotiations and decisions about curriculum adjustments and supports.
  • Successful adjustments and supports including extensions on assignments, additional time in tests, and enlarged print or another different format for assignments and tests.
  • Parents/carers and teachers working together in partnership to achieve positive outcomes for the student.
  • Useful communication methods such as ClassDojo.
  • Positive experiences of students interacting with peers and building friendships.
  • Schools creating welcoming and inclusive environments. Often this was as a result of a principal with a strong commitment to inclusion.
  • Students having good relationships with School Learning Support Officers (SLSO) and positive experiences of SLSOs supporting their participation and learning in class.

Participants also shared areas for improvement:

  • Students being given learning and assessment tasks that are not appropriately matched to their abilities and strengths.
  • Limited opportunities for students to exercise choice, voice and control at school and to provide feedback about their classroom and whole-school policies and practices.
  • Effectiveness of existing formal school leadership programs such as Student Representative Council (SRC) and student captains and their lack of focus on disability and inclusion.
  • Parents/carers having difficulties in communicating with their child’s teachers and feeling like their child’s school did not view or treat them as an expert on their child.
  • Limited knowledge and capacity in schools around curriculum adjustments.
  • Concerns around inadequate support for teachers, increasing workloads and limited time for planning, impacting teachers’ capacity to appropriately support students with disability.
  • Lack of awareness in schools around disability, diversity, and inclusive practices and the need for education and training.
  • Deficits approach in schools and the lack of opportunities to provide information and insights about student’s strengths.
  • Varying approaches to post-school guidance and planning and inconsistencies with transition supports provided to students living with disability and families.

More information

Read the Purple Orange report: Experiences and insights from students living with disability in NSW public schools and their parents/carers

Read the easy read: Life at school for students with disability. What we learned from our research

Find out more about other ways we are building the evidence base for students with disability through research.


  • Diversity and inclusion

Business Unit:

  • Teaching, Learning and Student Wellbeing
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