It is important for families to be involved in considerations about support and, where necessary, the process of applying for funding support and using it effectively
You know your family member best and will be able to provide valuable insights that will make it more likely that your child will receive the appropriate type and amount of support.
The information provided on this page gives a brief overview of the supports you can expect to find in a NSW Department of Education and Communities regular, mainstream school.
To read about funded programs in Independent schools visit The Association of Independent Schools (AIS) website. For more detailed information you will need to talk to the specific independent school you are interested in.
To read about funded programs in Catholic schools visit the Catholic Schools in NSW and ACT website. For more detailed information you will need to talk to a specific Catholic school or diocese.
Keep in mind the education standards apply to all education provider regardless of whether they are state, independent or Catholic.
In NSW state schools there are school resources that are available to all students within the Learning and Support framework. Students who have additional needs that cannot be adequately met through the schools resources can apply for Integrated Funding Support. Students will need to have an identified disability to receive this funding.
Families are often requested to conduct cognitive tests on their child to determine funding supports and the Department of Education disability criteria refers to an IQ level. However "There is no connection between an IQ test and where and how you should be educated" - Bruce Uditsky.
Read IQ Testing: A Critique for parents of children with developmental disabilities by Bruce Uditsky and watch this clip from an interview with Bruce.
There is also funding that can be accessed for technology, building works and transport. You will need to talk directly with your school about funding for technology and equipment and building works (building works can take extended periods of time so the earlier you talk to your school the better).
Learning and Support
Learning and Support includes a host of resources that schools can draw upon to support students experiencing difficulties in learning in regular classes, regardless of the cause (a disability diagnosis is not needed).
Schools should have a School Learning Support Team that works with students and their families to identify areas where additional support is needed and plan for appropriate adjustment to be made.
Schools will have a School Learning Support Teacher who supports students and their teachers in numerous ways such as by working collaboratively with teachers to provide professional specialist advice, support and mentoring and model exemplary classroom practice, and provide direct support to students through a range of strategies.
Schools are also allocated flexible funding that can be used in various ways to support students. School Principals are responsible for how flexible funding is used.
More information about the Learning and Support Program can be found on the DEC NSW schools website.
Every Student, Every School strategy
In 2011 the DEC implemented the Every Student Every School initiative that aims to build a framework for schools to improve their capability to support students who have additional learning needs.
Every Student Every School is made up of a number of elements, some of which are discussed above under Learning and Support. Those that Family Advocacy believes are of greatest benefit to students with disability are listed below. More information can be found on the DEC website.
- Specialist teachers allocated in schools to provide support and mentoring to teachers and students
- Accredited online training for classroom teachers on a range of topics including autism; behaviour; dyslexia and significant reading difficulties; speech, language and communication, and; motor coordination.
- The development and implementation of a Functional Assessment Tool (Personalised Learning And Support Signposting Tool – PLASST) to assist teachers to understand the learning and support needs of students and make appropriate adjustments
The Integrated Funding Support Program is for students who need additional supports and have an identified disability (as defined by NSW DEC criteria). An application must be made for this funding, and if approved, it will be allocated to schools to use to assist that individual student. Students that receive Funding Support can continue to use and access Learning and Support resources that are available to all students, such as the School Learning Support Teacher.
Funding Support can be used in a variety of flexible ways to best suit a student including:
- Teacher release time for preparation and planning
- Additional teacher time
- Teacher training and development
- Schools Learning Support officer time – previously known as Teacher's Aide Special
- Additional School Learning Support Teacher hours
The video below shares how one family prepared for the school assessment.
More information about Funding Supports can be found in the policies and websites below:
Students with disabilities in regular classes: Integrated Funding Support Program Document
Funding Support: Students with disabilities in regular classes (Support document for Principals and School Executive) (We suggest reading: sections 1 and 5)
DEC Criteria for Funding Support can be found on the NSW Schools website under Identification and Assessment.