The Department of Education (DoE) through its Learners First Strategy 2014-17 is committed to enabling all students to achieve quality outcomes through their participation in an inclusive, high quality education system that is responsive to their needs through appropriate access and participation in the Australian Curriculum.
The DoE support our teachers and their school communities to understand and address the diverse learning needs of students. We enact the requirements of the Disability Standards for Education 2005 by implementing Individual Education Plans for students with disability so they have the same experiences and opportunities as their peers.
Students with disability are encouraged and supported to attend their local government school. Schools can assist students with a range of specialist services and resources. Each Learning Service in the state has a team of specialist staff such as social workers, school psychologists, speech and language pathologists and autism consultants.
There are four special schools across the state and four Early Childhood Intervention Services (ECIS) centres.
Autism Specific Programs – there are a number of diverse program options to assist the support needs of children and families. An Autism Specific class has been established at Lindisfarne North Primary School.
Funding Support for Students
In 2014-15, the DoE funding support for students with disability is $69.4 million. Schools use these additional resources broadly and flexibly to meet the varied teaching and learning needs of students.
A total of $30.3 million is provided as cash allocations to schools and for central programs. Schools have access to extra funding ranging from $5,000 to $36,000 per student each year to support teaching and learning programmes to meet their learning needs.
A total of $39.1 million is provided for centralised specialist staffing through:
Teachers – 235.49 Full Time Equivalent (FTE)
· Support teachers
· Register of Students with Severe Disability (SDR) teacher staffing
· Special schools and Early Childhood Intervention Services (ECIS) teachers
· Vision and deaf support teachers
Specialist staff – 146.5 FTE
· School psychologists
· Speech and language pathologists
· Social workers
· Autism consultants
Respectful Schools Support Team – 10 FTE
· one team based in each Learning Service consisting of a School Psychologist (Behavioural), Behavioural Learning Leader and Teacher Learning Leader (two staff in the South).
· this team provides a focus on developing and embedding school wide positive behaviour approaches and building staff capacity regarding educational adjustments using the Australian Curriculum and building inclusive cultures and communities.
Professional Support for Students
Support teachers – are skilled teachers who support the school and classroom teacher to improve outcomes for students with disability and/or additional needs.
Speech and language pathologists – are qualified and skilled in assessing, diagnosing and managing speech, language and feeding disorders and difficulties. They work with students, parents, teachers and support staff to help students overcome development delays or disorders which affect their ability to communicate.
Autism Consultants – are located in each Learning Service and provide individual consultations to schools in order to improve the educational outcomes of students who have or may have an Autism Spectrum Disorder and build capacity within schools. They provide a continuum of professional learning to school staff, communicate and work collaboratively with other agencies that provide services and support to young people with an Autism Spectrum Disorder and their families and provide advice and support to families.
Physical Impairment Co-ordinators – are in each Learning Service area and provide support to schools, teachers and students (K – 12) with high needs and disabilities. This includes students with physical, cognitive, sensory and social/emotional disabilities and reaches across the areas of ICT, manual handling, minor works and transport. The role includes coordinating professional learning for staff in the afore-mentioned areas as well as student and staff health issues.
Deaf and Hearing Impaired Service (DHI) – offers statewide specialist educational support for children from 0 to 18 years who have a hearing loss. DHI Service employs qualified Teachers of the Deaf, Auslan Interpreters, Teacher Assistants with signing skills and Deaf Tutors. These people work with schools and relevant agencies to support students with hearing loss and their families in home, school and community settings.
Vision Services – offers statewide specialist educational support for children from birth to 18 years of age diagnosed with structural vision impairment. Vision Services offers support from a specialist team of multidisciplinary educators, working across home, school and community settings. This support includes specialist vision teachers, orientation and mobility support and the provision of a range of assistive technologies and associated professional supports.
The Supporting Student Need webpage has more information on other services the department provides to ensure learners have engaging learning opportunities in appropriate settings.