Disability submission guide

In developing your workplace’s submission, when responding to the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference consider your workplace’s experience of the following:

A. Equitable access to resources for students with a disability or special needs in regional and metropolitan areas

  • For those students who need additional support, including adjustments to teaching, learning and assessment activities:
     
    • Do students receive adequate and timely access to this support?
    • Do teachers feel equipped, confident and supported to provide this support?
    • What inhibits and enables access to this support?
  • For those students who need access to in school specialist support (i.e. support from Learning and Support Teacher, School Counsellor, School Learning Support Officer, Learning and Support Team guidance/intervention):
     
    • Do students receive adequate and timely access to this support?
    • Do teachers know how to access this support?
    • Do teachers find this support effective?
    • Is the professional judgement of teachers acknowledged and respected when accessing this support?
    • What inhibits and enables access to this support?
  • For those students who need Integration Funding support:
     
    • Do students receive adequate and timely access to this support?
    • Do teachers/the school know how to access this support?
    • Do teachers/the school find this support effective and is it received at levels adequate to deliver equitable access to education and improved learning outcomes?
    • Is the professional judgement of teachers and that of others directly involved with the student, acknowledged and respected when accessing this support?
    • What inhibits and enables access to this support?
  • For those students requiring a support placement:
     
    • Do students receive adequate and timely access to this support?
    • Do teachers/the school know how to access this support? Are they familiar with and supported through the Access Request process?
    • Is the professional judgement of teachers and that of others directly involved with the student, acknowledged and respected when accessing this support?
    • Has the school been asked to resubmit Access Requests, re-assess the domain level for the student and/or make changes that do not reflect the professional judgement of those directly involved with the student?
    • When students have not been deemed eligible or suitable for a support placement, has the school been provided with a timely and satisfactory rationale for the decision and alternative support to meet the student/s’ needs at their current school?
    • Have students been deemed suitable and eligible for support placement and not been offered a placement? How long did these students have to wait for placement? What support was offered to the school in the interim? Were these students transitioning to Kindergarten/High School/new school? Were any of these students already in a support setting?
    • Does your school have a support unit? Has it sought to establish or expand its number of support classes? Have these requests been successful?
    • What inhibits and enables access to this support?
  • For those students who require specialist equipment and/or environmental adjustments:
     
    • Do students receive adequate and timely access to this support?
    • Do teachers know how to access this support?
    • Is the professional judgement of teachers acknowledged and respected when accessing this support?
    • What inhibits and enables access to this support?
  • For those students whose needs require support and intervention from the relevant personnel in the Educational Services team:
     
    • Do students receive adequate and timely access to this support?
    • Do teachers know how to access and get the necessary access to this support?
    •  Do teachers find this support effective?
    • Is the professional judgement of teachers acknowledged and respected when accessing this support?
    • What inhibits and enables access to this support?
  • Consider whether your workplace has the adequate resources to:
     
    • Support genuine ongoing consultation with parents and carers
    • Identify the needs of and necessary adjustments for students
    • Provide the required reasonable adjustments to students
    • Implement and maintain assessment of need and efficacy of adjustments
    • Run an effective Learning and Support Team
    • Provide teachers time to develop personalised learning and support
    • Provide teachers access to specialist support and special education expertise
    • Provide teachers access to relevant professional learning
    • Provide teachers access to in class support
    • Provide every student with equitable access to teaching and learning
    • Establish processes to engage in effective transition planning for students

B. The impact of the Government’s ‘Every Student Every School’ (ESES) policy on the provision of education to students with a disability or special needs in New South Wales public schools

Consider the impact of the following initiatives introduced via ESES:

  • The reallocation of 9 categories of support teachers to the single role of Learning and Support (LaS) Teachers
  • The reallocation of Assistant Principals Learning Assistance and Assistance Principals Behaviour to the single role of Assistant Principal Learning and Support
  • The use of the Student Learning Needs Index based on NAPLAN results to allocate flexible funding and LaS Teachers
  • Students with low level needs attracting less than $6400 in Integration Funding are now catered for by the Low Level Adjustment for Disability Resource Allocation Model Equity Loading.
  • The Centres for Expertise projects developed by Schools for Specific Purposes (SSPs)

The following information is organised under the 5 project areas of the ESES learning and support framework.

1.Professional learning for skilled and knowledgeable teachers

This project area continued and expanded the implementation of online training modules for teachers, specialist courses for teachers and retraining programs. Have these supports assisted teachers in:

  • Making adjustments to support the individual learning needs of students with disability?
  • Create and maintain effective collaborative partnerships with parents and other professionals?
  • Being better equipped to understand and meet the learning and support needs of the full range of students in their classrooms?

2.Support for students with disability in regular classrooms

  • Has ESES established an adequate level of specialist teacher presence in your workplace to effectively support student need?
  • Is the Learning and Support teacher at your workplace a specialist i.e. do they have adequate qualifications and/or experience to “provide direct and timely specialist assistance to students in regular classes with additional learning and support needs and their teachers”?
  • Has the implementation of ESES improved immediate access to additional support within the school to meet the educational needs of students with disability?

3.Special schools as centres of expertise

  • Is your school involved in and benefiting from a network established across schools to share the knowledge, expertise and specialist resources available in special schools?
  • Are more schools being informed by the expertise and resources developed in specialist settings?
  • Are more students benefitting from teachers’ access to expertise available in our specialist schools?

4.Understanding and assessing learning and support needs

  • Has the implementation of ESES raised awareness and use of the Department’s Personalised Learning and Support Signposting Tool (PLASST) at your workplace?
  • Is the PLASST actively used to profile the learning and support needs of individual students in collaboration with students and their parents?
  • Do teachers feel better equipped with the PLASST to identify the strengths, abilities, skills and learning needs of students with disability?

5.Access to information and expert support

Has the implementation of ESES enhanced access to:

  • Specialist support for students with disability?
  • Resources for students with high or complex additional learning and support needs?
  • Expert support and consistent, reliable information for school leaders, teachers and parents about identifying and supporting the educational needs of students with disability?
  • Following are the Department’s principles for using RAM equity funding for students requiring low level adjustment for disability. Consider whether your workplace has the adequate resources to:
    • improve student outcomes
    • strengthen capacity to meet obligations to students under the Commonwealth Disability Standards for Education 2005
    • raise the expectations of students, teachers, executive, parents and carers and school communities
    • strengthen partnerships between schools and parents and carers
    • increase levels of student participation and engagement in learning
    • develop and sustain a positive and welcoming school culture for every student, including those students with disability and additional learning and support needs, and their parents and carers
    • improve the quality of teaching and learning for every student
    • enhance specialist provisions available in every school
    • improve access to timely specialist support for students and their teachers within schools
    • promote recognition and understanding of the rights of students with disability and the obligations of teachers and schools toward students and their parents and carers.

C. Developments since the 2010 inquiry by General Purpose Standing Committee No. 2 into the provision of education to students with a disability or special needs and the implementation of its recommendations

The table below contains the 31 recommendations made by the 2010 Inquiry. In responding to this term of reference, consider your workplace’s experience/view of how – if at all – these recommendations have been implemented?

Recommendation:

  1.  

That the NSW Government substantially increase funding for students with disabilities and special needs in NSW Government schools to ensure all students have equitable access to education.

  1.  

That the NSW Government, in its submission to the Commonwealth school funding review, advocate a transparent funding mechanism to meet the need of students with disabilities or additional learning needs.

  1.  

That the NSW Government address the current anomaly in which Schools for Specific Purposes are staffed and funded on a primary school formula, even though they cater for a large number of high school aged students.

  1.  

That the Department of Education and Training examine ways to reduce the requirement for those students whose disability and level of need is unlikely to change dramatically in the space of a year to reconfirm their disability status on an annual basis in order to receive disability funding.

  1.  

That the Department of Education and Training investigate ways to communicate the outcome of the disability funding assessment process to families, carers and schools in a manner that is clear, timely and sensitive.

  1.  

That the Department of Education and Training move rapidly towards the development and application of a functional assessment tool which has been independently monitored and assessed. This tool should be used to inform decisions about access to disability funding and to further enhance educational outcomes for students with disabilities and special needs.

  1.  

That the Department of Education and Training facilitate the provision of satellite autism classes in country areas to ensure children with autism in these areas have appropriate access to these classes.

  1.  

That the Department of Education and Training:

  • acknowledge and accept that there is widespread concern about the unmet demand for special education places in NSW Government schools
  • undertake an immediate investigation into the level of unmet demand for special education places and classes and publish the results of this investigation
  • increase the number of special education places and classes to ensure that there are adequate places to cover demand for all students with disabilities and special needs
  • abandon plans to dissolve existing language support classes.
  1.  

That the Department of Education and Training publish details of its response to the Auditor

General’s 2006 report in relation to the Regional Placement Panel process, including a timeline for the implementation of this revision.

  1.  

That the Department of Education and Training conduct a comprehensive evaluation of behaviour schools and learning centres. This evaluation should examine access to secondary curriculum, student/teacher ratios, the impact on students of spending extended periods of time in behaviour schools, as well as the adequacy of places available to meet demand.

  1.  

That the Minister for Education and Training and the Minister for Health publish the report of the Expert Advisory Panel on the future of Dalwood Assessment Centre and Palm Avenue

School as soon as it becomes available.

  1.  

That the NSW Government ensure that the Dalwood Assessment Centre and Palm Avenue

School and associated residential service continue to deliver its valuable service for students with complex reading difficulties from rural and regional areas.

  1.  

That the Department of Education and Training require all mainstream NSW Government schools to establish or be resourced by a school learning support team.

  1.  

That the Department of Education and Training work towards ensuring that all school learning support teams include at least one member who holds a special education qualification, if necessary, by providing funded professional development opportunities to existing school staff.

  1.  

That the Department of Education and Training publish guidelines on the functions and outcomes of school learning support teams, including the role of parents in these teams, for distribution to school communities.

  1.  

That the Department of Education and Training support the maintenance and expansion of the Learning Assistance Program.

 

  1.  

That the Department of Education and Training include a clear statement on the role and appropriate use of School Learning Support Officers (teacher’s aides) in the proposed guidelines on the functions of school learning support teams.

 

  1.  

That the Department of Education and Training conduct:

  • a formal independent evaluation of the trial of the School Learning Support Program in the Illawarra and South East Region one year after the commencement of its operation and publish the results of this evaluation
  • further consultation with key stakeholders before any decision is made to further implement this program.

 

  1.  

That the Department of Education and Training commission an independent review of the

School Learning Support Program online training course, and in doing so, consult more widely with local academics and experts on the content of the course.

  1.  

That the Department of Education and Training increase resources for students with identified disabilities in mainstream classes.

  1.  

That the Department of Education and Training coordinate multi-disciplinary teams on a regional level to deliver professional and allied health support services to students with disabilities or special needs in NSW Government schools.

  1.  

That the Department of Education and Training take immediate action to increase the number of school counsellors in NSW Government schools with the objective of increasing the ratio to 1:500.

  1.  

That the Department of Education and Training:

  • publish the terms or reference and timeline for its review of counselling services in NSW Government schools
  • consider alternative models for delivering counselling services in schools as part of this review
  • complete the review by June 2011.
  1.  

That the Department of Education and Training publish guidelines on the development of

Individual Education Plans for students with disabilities and special needs. These guidelines should:

  • include information on when an Individual Education Plan is required, who should be involved and what it should contain
  • be distributed to the school community, including parents of students with disabilities or special needs.
  1.  

That the Department of Education and Training provide additional resources, including relief time for teachers to develop Individual Education Plans.

  1.  

That the Minister for Education immediately pursue with the Federal Minister for Education the inclusion of Life Skills as an essential component of the new national curriculum.

  1.  

That the NSW Institute of Teachers review the content of pre-service teacher education courses, including:

  • the mandatory unit in special education
  • incorporating additional content regarding teaching strategies and practical skills to cater for the learning needs of students with disabilities or special needs
  • embedding special education throughout pre-service training.
  1.  

That the NSW Government promote through the national reform agenda that special education be embedded throughout pre-service teacher training.

  1.  

That the Department of Education and Training work towards assisting all School Learning

Support Teachers to obtain a special education qualification.

  1.  

That the Department and Education and Training offer additional opportunities for teachers to undertake retraining programs in special education facilitated by the Department.

  1.  

That the Department of Education and Training review whether there is a need for formal training for School Learning Support Officers

D. Complaint and review mechanisms within the school systems in New South Wales for parents and carers

Does your school have the capacity and resources to adequately and in a timely fashion:

  • establish meaningful relationships with parents/carers of students with disability?
  • work with and consult with parents/carers of students with disability?  
  • respond to concerns and complaints raised by parents/carers of students with disability?

E. Any other related matters

  • is there any further student/teacher/school/system need that your workplace wants to put on record to the Inquiry’s Committee?
  • to deliver equity and excellence to every student what more does your workplace/network/system need?