May 25, 2015 School Choice
By Sharon Grocott and Karen Hickmott, NSW Parents’ Council’s SWD Project Team
Dhis information sheet is for information purposes only. Please consult with your doctor or other professionals to make sure this information is right for your child.
What to do first!
It is important to plan as early as possible. It is best to start to look at school options at least 12 months before your child is due to start school. Children have a right to attend their local public school. However the school might not be able to effectively meet your child’s needs.
If your child attends a pre-school or child care setting you may wish to discuss your child’s options with the Childcare Director.
It is important to work with school staff members to decide which school is going to best meet your child’s particular needs. An alternative may be for your child to attend an out of area school. An out of area enrolment is dependent upon a number of factors such as the school enrolment policy, the number of special needs children already in the school, etc. This document provides a handy checklist which can be used to take notes and guide you in making a decision.
Types of Schools and Classes
Below are some definitions of the types of support classes available;
Support classes provide individual programs within a regular school setting. If appropriate, the student is integrated in to other classes within the regular school.
IM Support Class: Mild Intellectual Disablity (from age 8yrs): A class consisting of 18 children who have a mild intellectual disability. Classes are available from Years 3 onwards.
IO Support Class: Moderate Intellecutal Disability: A class consisting of 9 children with a moderate intellectual disability.
IO/IS Support Class: Moderate/Severe intellectual disability): A class consisting of 6 children with a moderate to severe intellectual disability.
IO/IS Class – Support Class Language: A class consisting of 6 to 8 children from Kindergarten to Year 2. Students receive an intensive educational and communication program. A child needs to be within the average range of cognitive ability and have a moderate to severe language disorder to be eligible for this class.
Support Class – Physical Disability (P): To be eligible for a Physical Disability Support Class students must have a significant physical disability and/or significant health impairment that requires regular support from allied health personnel. Physical Disability Support Classes are located in regular primary and secondary schools. There is a maximum of 10 students in each class.
Support Class: Emotional Disturbance (ED/BD): Emotional Disturbance Support Classes provide individualised educational and behaviour management programs with a regular school or special setting school setting. A thorough assessment will be required from a specialist medical practitioner or a registered psychologist with appropriate expertise that describes the behavioural difficulties. A class consisting of 6 for children with emotional or behavioural difficulties.
Special Schools – SSPs (School for Specific Purpose): Special Schools provide students with individualised programs similar to those offered in support classes in regular schools. However students enrolled at SSP Schools will have more than one disability and require an intensive level of support. Students can be enrolled from 4 years of age. Special schools should have smaller class sizes, support staff, and access to a range of external support services, such as therapist, as needed. Support Class Autism: A class consisting of 6 children with an autism spectrum disorder. These classes care specifically for children with an ASD and have a focus on visual learning. Please be aware that these classes are not available in every school district. Guide and Checklist for choosing a school
|STEP 1: EXPLORE OPTIONS Children with special needs can be enrolled in a main stream class with additional supports, in a support class (IM or IO class), satellite class or in a special school. Parents need to explore each option and decide on what they feel is most appropriate. See what school options are available in your local area. Ask for a list of schools from the different sectors including NSW Department of Education and Training (DET), Catholic Education Office (CEO), and the Association of Independent schools (AIS). Visit schools in which you are interested.|
||When looking at different schools you could consider the following questions:
|STEP 2: UNDERTAKE RESEARCH||RATING|
|FUNDING & SUPPORT
|STEP 3: AFTER THE DECISION IS MADE Once you have made a decision and chosen a school – What can you do to help?|
Secondary School Choices When choosing a secondary school, there are some additional significant considerations. Give serious consideration to what your expectations are in regard to your child’s secondary education outcomes – what learning do you want your child to be offered in secondary school? To which career paths and choices do you expect this secondary education might lead? With this in mind, consider which secondary education path will best support your son or daughter to achieve their potential and their dreams. Also question the school carefully regarding their expectations for your child’s secondary education. Some mainstream secondary schools may enthusiastically enrol a student with special needs at Year 7, but as the gap in skills widens in comparison with age peers, find the curriculum modification more challenging.
Your Rights as a Parent All Australian students diagnosed with a disability are covered by the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and the Disability Standards for Education 2005. The intention of the legislation is that students with a disability have the same right to education and training opportunities as all other students. You have a right to the following:
The Disability Discrimination Act 1992
The Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) provides protection for everyone in Australia against discrimination based on disability. In August, 2009, The Disability Discrimination and Other Human Rights Legislation Amendment Act 2009 (the Act) came into effect. This Act amends the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and provides for a more consistent and coherent application of definitions.
The Disability Standards for Education 2005 (the Standards) is subordinate legislation which clarifies the obligations of education and training service providers and the rights of people with disabilities under the DDA.
The Standards give students and prospective students with disabilities the right to education and training opportunities on the same basis as students without a disability. This includes the right to comparable access, services and facilities, and the right to participate in education and training without discrimination. Education providers have an obligation to make changes to reasonably accommodate the needs of students with disabilities.
The Standards also require education providers to put in place strategies and programs to prevent harassment and victimisation. They must ensure that staff and students know it is not lawful to harass or victimise students with disabilities, or students who have associates with disabilities, or their carer, assistant, assistance animal and/or disability aid. An education provider must take reasonable steps to ensure that staff and students know what to do if harassment or victimisation occurs.
If you believe your child is being discriminated against:
Anti-Discrimination Board NSW
Postal address PO Box A2122, Sydney South 1235
Street address: Level 4, 175 Castlereagh Street Sydney NSW 2000
Telephone General office number – (02) 9268 5555 General Enquiry Service & Employers Advisory Service – (02) 9268 5544
Fax (02) 9268 5500
Email General email, enquiries etc: firstname.lastname@example.org
Website Click here
Useful Phone Numbers NSW Department of Education and Training (DET) Regional Disability Programs, Consultants, Student Services Co-ordinators and student support officers. For support phone 131 536 (connects to the nearest office) or visit www.det.nsw.edu.au
The Association of Independent Schools can provide geographical lists of independent schools and advice on Australian Government funding available to support children with special needs in independent schools.
Phone 02 9299 2845 or visit
Independent Schools Contact Assistant Director Professional Services Learning and Behaviour Support.
Cate Pinnington Phone: 9299 2845
Contact State Co-ordinator Special Learning Needs.
Gerry Gray Phone 9287 1543
School Student Special Transport Scheme (DET) transports children to school where the parent or care giver is unable to because of other commitments.
Contact the DET Special Transport Unit on 131 071.
Autism Spectrum Australia (ASPECT) Provide specialised, evidence-based programs for children aged 4-16 who require an autism specific program. Aspect has 6 schools located at-Central Coast, Hunter, South Coast, South East Sydney, Western Sydney and the Northern Beaches. In addition each school operates satellite classes in mainstream school settings. Regional groups of satellite classes are also located in the Riverina (Wagga Wagga and Albury) and on the Far North Coast at Alstonville.
In addition, each school operates classes in mainstream school settings. Aspect classes cover over 70 locations and cater to over 600 students, employing more than 350 teachers and teachers’ aides. Contact the Autism Information Line 1800 069 978 for information packs regarding school options.