Full funding will help every student with disability succeed

On 26 March, Federation gave evidence to the parliamentary inquiry into Children and young people with disability in NSW educational settings; the third parliamentary inquiry of a similar nature to take place since 2009.

Each inquiry has sought, among other things, to enquire into the funding, support and resourcing of students in the public school system.

The NSW Auditor General has also published reports specifically relating to supporting students with disability in 2006 and 2016 and is in the process of compiling a third.

In 2011, the Rudd-Gillard government established the Gonski Review and in late 2023, more than a decade later, Improving Outcomes for All: The Report of the Independent Expert Panel’s Review to Inform a Better and Fairer Education System, confirmed 98 per cent of all public schools in the country remain underfunded.

The Gonski panel made clear to governments that the full funding of public schools was “urgent and critical” and a precondition for improving results, equity and student wellbeing.

The NSW Government’s submission to this same panel clearly described the changing nature of schooling and the need for the Commonwealth to work with state and territory governments in the context of the next funding agreement. Its submission acknowledged capital funding as a “crucial lever” required to meet the increasing needs of students and align with the Gonski recommendations of 2011.

Teachers are working in highly complex learning environments and differentiating learning at a greater rate than ever before. The Gallop report of 2021 identified students with disability as the largest growing cohort of students in NSW public schools.

Growth of students with disability, in particular those with Autism and developmental delay, is something the Albanese Government has recognised following the review into the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). Slated changes to funding and support for these students through proposed NDIS reforms, including the establishment of “foundational” supports, is something the union will monitor carefully.

The For Every Child campaign is seeking to help every student with disability succeed. Full funding for students with disability would enable:

  • the employment of more qualified teachers
  • provision of more time for teachers to consult with students and family/carers, develop and implement individual education plans and classroom adjustments to teaching and learning programs
  • provision to teachers of time to collaborate with their colleagues, specialist teachers and allied health professionals, and undertake professional learning
  • increased allied health support in schools to ensure rapid response to student needs
  • system-wide support and ongoing professional development to help principals, teachers and learning support teams
  • prioritisation of purpose-built classrooms and school facilities including modified bathrooms and playgrounds that are accessible for all students with disability.