Disability support classes are a state responsibility

Enabling Equity: Education Quarterly, Issue 5 2023

The provision of support classes to enable the engagement of students with disability in education on the same basis as their peers is the responsibility of the Department of Education and NSW Government.

Reports from schools are increasingly stating students who are eligible for support class placements are unable to access them due to a lack of vacancies.

This demonstrates a failure of the Department and Government to provide the support these students need and deserve.

Further, when students are unable to access these classes, it falls to the schools to arrange the intensive support needed through reactive processes of applying to the Department for accommodations to meet their basic needs.

This issue is at the heart of what we do to support all children, now and in the future. Teachers in schools have demonstrated repeatedly their commitment to providing safe and supportive learning environments for all students.

There is no question of teachers’ willingness to support students with disabilities in their classes.

However, the education of any student should not be dependent upon the willingness and ability of their teachers to go above and beyond to fill gaps left by systemic failure.

The human cost of this is far too great, denying many students their right to quality public education and affecting the wellbeing of students and teachers.

Fundamentally, the State Government must establish support classes on a needs basis to meet the rising demand for support for students with disabilities in NSW public schools. Nothing less.

Should any access request for placement in a support class be denied or deferred based on the availability of positions, members in schools are urged to contact their Federation Organiser to discuss a course of action, both industrial and political.