National Disability Insurance Scheme in schools: put simply

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) provides support to eligible people with intellectual, physical, sensory, cognitive and psychosocial disabilities. Early intervention supports can also be provided for eligible people with disability or children with developmental delays.

The NDIS is an Australia-wide scheme to support people aged 0 to 65 years with permanent and significant disabilities. It was anticipated in NSW that about 140,000 people with disability would join the NDIS, including around 40,000 children and young people.

When the NDIS became available in NSW in 2016, it was inevitable that families would seek to utilise the services available to their children during the school day. While on paper this seems to be a fair use of the experience of the providers, it has created a new set of issues that directly affect the continuity of learning for students with disability, classroom teachers and other students. There have been reports of multiple providers seeking time during the same school day in one class alone. This creates a major disruption to the teacher and all the students within that class.

It is important to note that Department’s NDIS Information to Schools leaflet et (March 2021) states that schools remain responsible for meeting the personalised learning and support needs of students with disability” and The Disability Standards for Education 2005 continue to apply to schools. Schools remain responsible for making adjustments to personalise learning and support for students with a disability that enable those students to participate on the same basis as other students. The NDIS will fund reasonable and necessary supports that a student requires due to the functional impact of their disability on their daily life.”

Families may ask for NDIS-funded services to be delivered at school, but principals decide whether service providers funded by the NDIS can deliver their services on school grounds during school hours.

In making this decision, principals will consult with parents or carers, and consider the learning and support needs of the student, the school’s operational context, and the impact the service may have on other students and school staff.

Decisions should be made on a case-by-case basis considering the individual circumstances of the student or group of students concerned and the wider needs of the school.

When the service provision is to occur in class, principals need to consider the potential impact of additional adults in the classroom environment, the impact on delivery of the curriculum to other students and if the provision of the service to one student is likely to interfere with the learning of other students. Where the service does not link with the student’s learning needs or enhance access to education, the service should be delivered outside of school time.

Federation remains committed to ensuring that all students with disability are supported and their learning needs are met.