Specialist support classes in mainstream schools

Specialist support classes located in some mainstream primary schools, high school and central schools across NSW are available for students with moderate to high learning and support needs - as defined by the Department's disability criteria.

Specialist support classes cater for students with moderate to high learning and support needs including students with:

  • intellectual disability
  • mental health issues
  • autism
  • physical disability
  • sensory impairment
  • behaviour disorders.


Specialist support classes in mainstream schools have fewer students than mainstream classes. Class sizes depend on the class type and, in some cases, the students' additional learning and support needs.

Every specialist class has a teacher and a school learning support officer. Class teachers - in consultation with parents and carers and allied health professionals, where appropriate - are responsible for planning personalised learning and support for each student.

Students in specialist support classes have the opportunity to participate in the school and community activities their school offers, on the same basis as students in mainstream classes. Students also have access to:

  • itinerant support teacher (hearing or vision)
  • support teachers transition
  • specialist provisions available to students in mainstream classes including disability provisions from the Board of Studies Teaching and Educational Standards NSW for practical support in examinations
  • access to transport assistance under the Assisted School Travel Program.

For students enrolled in specialist classes in mainstream schools, 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 the personalised learning and support needs of the students.

Placements and review

Applications for placement are through the Access Request process. An Access Request is arranged by the school learning and support team at the local public school.

A student is offered enrolment in a specialist support class in mainstream school through a placement panel process. A student's eligibility is determined through the Department's disability criteria as well as the availability of a place in an appropriate specialist support class.

Enrolment arrangements for students with disability and additional learning and support needs are the same as for all students. To get information about enrolment, parents and carers can visit the local public school. More information is available at school enrolment.

School learning and support teams review the placement of each student annually. Reviews consider all aspects of a student's personalised learning and support, including whether or not the current placement is best meeting their learning and support needs.

Do you need help?

Parents or carers should contact the principal of their child's school. Parents or carers whose child is not yet enrolled in school should contact their local school or local educational services team on 131 536.

Staff training

Professional learning is available to help teachers and school support staff develop and deliver quality learning experiences for all students.

Roles and responsibilities

Many people contribute to supporting students with disability and additional learning and support needs and they have a wide range of roles and responsibilities.

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