Adjustments to teaching and learning

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

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 personalised learning and support needs.

Understanding adjustments

Adjustments are actions or modifications taken that enable students to access educational content and outcomes on the same basis as their peers. Adjustments to teaching, learning and assessment may include:

Curriculum adjustments

For some students, the teacher may adjust the curriculum outcomes to meet the student's personalised learning needs.

Adjustments may be made to the amount of lesson or unit content or the time allocated to complete work for the student. The teacher may consider teaching the core or critical content first and teach the key terminology and vocabulary needed for the subject area.

Instructional adjustments

Teachers may also adjust how the lessons are delivered.

This may 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, additional, explicit and systematic instructions, increased levels of prompting, additional modelling and guided practice.

Environmental adjustments

Environmental adjustments are modifications to the school environment which help students learn on the same basis as their peers. The learning environment is not limited to just the classroom, it may include the playground, outdoor learning areas, school library, sporting fields and excursions.

Environmental adjustments may include supporting physical access needs, 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.

How adjustments are determined

The school learning and support team assists 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 made in consultation with a student's parents and carers are based on the personalised 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 may also consult with specialist staff 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.

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 can be applied to:

  • 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 and 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 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 NSW Educational Standards Authority (NESA) 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 NSW Education Standards Authority 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 NSW Educational Standards Authority (NESA) for disability provisions.

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