Supporting students with disability in NSW public schools

12 May 2016

The Department of Education is doing a reasonable job in managing how well students with disability transition to a new school and supporting teachers to improve these students’ educational outcomes, according to a report released today by the NSW Auditor-General, Margaret Crawford.

The level of support provided to students with disability can vary between schools. This is partly due to cultural resistance in some schools and teachers not always having the necessary skills to support children with disability.

In recent years, the Department has put considerable effort into improving support for students with disability. Initiatives include more teacher training, specialist ‘learning and support’ teachers, and increased disability funding for schools.

Good processes to identify needs but better consultation with parents needed

The Department has good processes to help teachers identify the needs of students with disability when they transition to a new school. However, schools should provide clearer information on the support available at their local school and consult more with families on what is being done to address their child’s needs.

Teachers tailor support for each student with disability but barriers remain

There are many examples of teachers adjusting support to meet the needs of individual students, but there are barriers to making successful adjustments. For example:

  • limited time for schools to plan for adjustments needed to accommodate students with disability
  • some teachers believing students do not need adjustments or do not have the ability to learn.

Teachers and families advised that some schools do not have the capability to deal with problems when they arise.

Schools monitor individual student outcomes, but more needed on overall performance

While schools collect information on individual students in various ways, including standard classroom assessments and NAPLAN, the Department is not able to draw this information together to determine the overall performance of schools in improving learning outcomes for students with disability.

Further Information

For further information, please refer to the report’s Executive Summary or full report on the Audit Office website.

Please contact Barry Underwood on 9275 7220 or 0403 073 664; email

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