All children under Australian law are entitled to equal opportunity and choices in regards to their education, despite any mental or physical disabilities. These children are protected by the Disability Standards for Education 2005, which is part of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth).
Access to education for children with disabilities begins at the preschool level and is maintained throughout their life. At every stage of a child’s education the school administration is legally prohibited from discriminating against a child or young adult with disabilities. This applies to admission and administration to the school in question, as well as bullying or harassment once they are accepted.
For a child to be considered in need of special educational services the parents must first contact the school for a meeting to discuss the child’s particular needs. During this meeting the school will ascertain what the exact needs of the child are via medical records, therapist’s reports, and parental concerns.
Once the needs of the child have been identified, the school is responsible for making the necessary adjustments to give the child the same access to educational opportunities and choices as any other child in attendance. It is important to note that the adjustments made must be reasonable and necessary to assist the child whilst having regards to all other parties involved. The proposed adjustments cannot place a significant detriment upon the other parties. When the institution is determining whether to make a reasonable adjustment they should consider any other options that would be less intrusive but no less beneficial to the child and also whether the plan can be changed over time.
The law also supports that the educational plan for each child with a disability be personalized to their specific intellectual, physical, psychological and educational needs.
Professionals have compiled a guide entitled Planning for Personalized Learning and Support: A National Resource to assist parents, teachers, students and school personnel in creating the best possible education plan for students with special needs.
The law places significant influence on children with disabilities being included within the general education program as often and as completely as possible. There are several ways this can be accomplished.
- Allowing children with disabilities to be taught in a regular classroom with the assistance of aids and course modifications
- Carefully designed special classes which are taught within the standard school system. These classes can be altered to contain a smaller number of students, or additional teaching support.
- Additional support to allow for inclusion within the general education population. This can also include transportation, physical modifications to classrooms and common areas and additional technology
to support altered learning approaches.
The government has taken great care in providing legislation that supports all children with disabilities receiving a fair and equal education. If you are the parent of a child with a disability, your child is entitled to the same educational opportunities and choices of all school age children in NSW. As such, using the resources provided for the education of children with disabilities allows every parent to secure a solid and carefully planned education for their child.
For further information or inquiries, please contact the offices of Owen Hodge Lawyers. At Owen Hodge, we are always happy to assist clients in understanding the full ramifications of any and all of your legal needs. Please feel free to call us at your earliest convenience to schedule a consultation at 1800 770 780.