For many children with a disability, school can be a challenging time. However, there are a number of ways to make this easier and ensure they feel supported by parents, teachers and peers as they develop lifelong skills.
Schooling and kids with disability
In Australia, every child has the right to the same educational opportunities. As a parent of a child with disability you are able to choose the best option for your child and your family, regardless of their level of disability.
Besides choosing the type of school, there are other aspects to consider such as financial costs, accessibility and safety. A range of disability support options are available to help your child throughout their schooling years, with most schools catering to children with disability.
In some schools, children with disability are in regular classes, whereas in others, children with disability have some extra support lessons together in a group and others in a regular class. There are also Government funded special support school programs, complete with their own staff and facilities within mainstream schools.
Types of schooling
Independent schools are non-Government institutions which support students with disability without Government funding.
Specialist schools for children with disability can offer specific support for children with intellectual disability, physical disability, hearing impairments, vision impairments and autism spectrum disorder. The curriculum at these schools is based on the Australian curriculum, but can be tailored to suit individual student needs. Class sizes may also be smaller. To enrol your child at a specialist school, they must meet the school’s diagnosis criteria and live within the enrolment zone.
Home-schooling can provide your child with a safe, supportive and flexible environment that suits their academic or behavioural needs. If you choose to homeschool, you need to register with your State or Territory Education Department.
For children who can’t go to school or participate in regular classes due to chronic illness, living remotely or experiencing difficulty at school, education programs are often run online with printed material and visual aids sent to your child. To enrol in these distance education programs you must meet the enrolment requirements.
Community Government schools are available for families who want something other than mainstream schooling. Dual enrolment is an option for parents who believe their child may benefit by splitting up their week between two schools.
If your child has medical, personal care or behavioural support needs, the school can assist your child in making them feel included and comfortable in the school environment.
The Department of Education, Skills and Employment
The Department of Education, Skills and Employment endeavours to support the education of students with disability through funding, special needs support, resources and teaching materials. The Department plays an important role in delivering Australia’s education and is responsible for national policies and programs. They also advocate for special needs education, receive complaints and manage education-based investigations.
Contact the Department of Education in your State or Territory to find out which schools near you offer support for children with disability.
- Australian Capital Territory Government Education Directorate (Disability Education) (02) 6205 6925
- New South Wales Department of Education (02) 9244 5085
- Northern Territory Department of Education (08) 8999 5659
- Queensland Department of Education and Training 137 468
- South Australia Department of Education and Child Development (08) 8226 1000
- Tasmania Department of Education 1800 816 057
- Victoria Department of Education and Training (03) 9637 2000
- Western Australia Department of Education (08) 9264 4111
What do you want to know about education and living with disability? Let us know in the comment section below.