Adjustments to teaching and learning

Adjustments can be made to the way the curriculum is taught and the way students learn.

This personalised approach to teaching and learning delivers rigorous, meaningful and dignified learning programs. Students, parents and carers and schools work together to develop tailored, personalised programs to help students get the most out of their school life.

Adjustments enable students with disability and additional learning and support needs to access syllabus outcomes and content on the same basis as their peers.

Under the Disability Standards for Education (2005) all principals and teachers have legal obligations to ensure that every student is able to participate in the curriculum on the same basis as their peers.

This does not mean every student should have the same experiences.

On the same basis means that students with disability should have the same opportunities and choices in their education as students without disability.

This can be achieved by making reasonable adjustments according to a student's individual circumstances.

Understanding adjustments

Adjustments are actions or modifications made to enable students to access to educational content and outcomes. Adjustments to teaching and learning may include:

Curriculum adjustments

For some students the teacher may modify the curriculum outcomes to meet the student's individual learning needs.

For example, some students studying Year 6 science may plan and conduct their own investigations into electrical circuits, making decisions about variables. Adjustments may be made by the teacher so that other students can take part in the same investigation at a less complex level by exploring and answering questions about electrical circuits.

Instructional adjustments

Teachers may also make changes to how the lessons are delivered to some students.

These include:

  • providing alternative representations of teaching and learning materials (e.g. using multimedia, Braille, illustrated texts, simplified texts or captioned video)
  • motivating students through engagement with their personal interests, explicit and systematic instructions, levels of prompting, modelling problem solving, providing opportunities for the student to think aloud (verbalisation) and scaffolding student learning through guided practice and support.

Environmental adjustments

Environmental adjustments are modifications to the school environment which help students learn on the same basis as their peers.

These may include the provision of access, peer assistance (e.g. using buddy systems, peer-assisted learning and peer tutoring), alternative equipment and furnishings, support personnel, scheduling (e.g. a sequence of events), technology and augmentative and alternative communication systems as well as modifications to buildings and classrooms.

Student assessment

If adjustments are made for teaching and learning then similar adjustments should be made for assessment tasks. This allows students to demonstrate what they know and what they can do in relation to curriculum outcomes. Adjustments to assessment tasks may include:

  • assessment processes, e.g. scaffolds, additional, time, use of a reader and or writer, rest breaks
  • assessment tasks, e.g. rephrasing questions, using simplified language
  • the content being assessed, e.g. fewer or alternative syllabus outcomes
  • the format of a task, e.g. written point form instead of reports or essays, oral or PowerPoint presentation instead of essay.

Identification and assessment

Identification of a child with a disability or a learning difficulty can occur at any age or stage of the child's development.

Access to specialist resources is facilitated through the student's school.  For some students with disabilities, the type and nature of the disability need to be initially assessed and confirmed using disability criteria (MS WORD 40kB) through the school counselling service. For these students, a range of specialist services related directly to the needs of the student can be sought

If you believe your child has special learning needs that require additional assistance please contact the principal at your child's school. The principal will consider your child's needs in consultation with the school's Learning and Support Team.

The Learning and Support Team assists classroom teachers to address the educational needs of students with a disability, learning difficulty or behaviour disorder. Parents or caregivers have a vital role to play in the work of the Learning and Support Team through discussing and planning for their child's needs.

Disability provisions for the HSC

Disability provisions are practical arrangements that enable students with permanent or temporary disability to access the HSC examinations on the same basis as other students.

Many of the HSC disability provisions are approved by schools without having to go through an application process as long as the Board of Studies Teach and Educational Standards NSW is notified. These may include the use of cushions, special furniture, special food or drink and natural lighting.

Some disability provisions are granted by the Board of Studies Teaching and Education Standards NSW following an application process. These may include the provision of a reader or writer or extra time.

The school learning and support team can assist in making an application to the Board of Studies Teaching and Educational Standards NSW for disability provisions.

How adjustments are determined

The school learning and support team assists classroom teachers to meet the educational needs of their students and to identify appropriate adjustments that may be needed.

Parents and carers have a vital role to play in the work of the school learning and support team by taking part in discussions and planning. Adjustments to teaching and learning made in consultation with a student's parents or carers are based on the assessed or identified education needs of the student.

Consultations may also involve the principal, class and support teachers, professional therapists, and community service providers as well as family members and carers.

Schools also consult with those people who have significant knowledge and understanding of how students learn and who can help to identify how adjustments can be made.

Adjustments must be regularly reviewed through this consultation process and should be changed or withdrawn if necessary.

Guides for parents and carers

Guide for schools

  • Information for schools in supporting students with medical, developmental or psychological conditions
  • Support for teachers of students with disability and additional learning and support needs
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