Schools do all they can to enrol students with disabilities and additional learning needs into mainstream study and school life. This process is generally described as ‘integration’. There are students with special educational needs in both mainstream and specialist schools.
Some mainstream schools have specialist facilities to help students with a particular disability; for example, there are secondary schools with equipment and expertise for hearing impaired students. The federal government has also recently committed funds to specialist professional development training for teachers working with children suffering from autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
In addition to schools with classes for students with special needs, there are also a range of special schools in both the government and independent sectors, which offer a specialised learning environment and higher levels of support.
The Year 7–10 syllabus has been designed to be inclusive of all students, and most students with special education needs participate in the regular learning activities and assessment tasks with additional support if required, such as the adjustment of assessment tasks. The Life Skills program also provides some Year 11 and 12 students, particularly those with intellectual disabilities, with an alternative study program. See the NSW Department of Education and Communities website for more details.
Specialist teachers and support staff are available in Queensland schools to support the needs of students with disabilities from Prep to Year 12. Early Childhood Development programs and services are available to children prior to Prep with suspected or diagnosed disabilities.
The Education Adjustment Program identifies and responds to the educational needs of students with a range of disabilities. Each school may offer different support programs and approaches, such as dedicated special education classrooms, providing support so that students with special education needs can learn alongside other students or providing specialised joint programs between schools. Not all schools provide a special education program; a list is available on the Department of Education and Training website. A school transport assistant scheme is also available to assist parents in getting their children to and from school.
More information on special education needs in Queensland can be found on the Department of Education and Training website.
In government schools, support funding is available through the Department of Education and Training's Program for Students with Disabilities, subject to eligibility and educational need.
Children who have a serious illness or who suffer other disruptions to their lives and schooling may also be in need of special help. Support is provided to these students where appropriate through the department's regional offices.
For students with disabilities and additional learning needs in government schools, the first step is to contact the local school. The school will establish a Student Support Group to complete an application for the Program for Students with Disabilities, after which the Department of Education and Training determines the eligibility of the student and the educational adjustments required. A similar process is applied in Catholic and independent schools.
There are many associations and services that offer support and advice to students with special educational needs. For example, the Office for Disability's DiVine website is run by the Department of Human Services. Another useful point of contact is the Association for Children with a Disability.