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Students with Disability


ACT public schools are committed to meeting the needs of students with disability. In partnership with the student, parents, carers and other professionals, we make reasonable adjustments for students with disability at the time of their enrolment and during the course of their education, supporting them to access and participate in the school curriculum, programs and activities on the same basis as their peers.

All students in the ACT are able to attend a public school and the Education Directorate works closely with schools to support a student’s enrolment and provide appropriate supports.

ACT public schools will:

  • consult with parents and carers to understand their child's education needs and the adjustments required to support the student;
  • make the reasonable adjustments necessary to enable a student with disability to take part in education on the same basis as other students; and
  • assist students and families to feel safe and supported in the education environment.

Adjustments may be made in the areas of curriculum, environment and/or teaching methods, and will vary according to the needs of individual students.

Programs and Supports

The Directorate provides a range of programs and supports for students from preschool to year 12 who meet the ACT Student Disability Criteria. All students from kindergarten to year 12, in the ACT are able to enrol at their local Priority Enrolment Area (PEA) school, or can apply to access a range of programs for students who meet the ACT Student Disability Criteria.

(See ACT Student Disability Criteria (305kb))

Support at Preschool (SAP) program works with schools to support the inclusion of children with developmental delay and disability in their preschool year. SAP support is provided to schools where substantial or extensive adjustments are required to support the child in the play-based preschool program.

Hearing and Vision support is provided for students from preschool to year 12. Specialist staff work with the child’s school and other involved services to support the student’s access to the curriculum.

Inclusion Support Program (ISP) provides additional resourcing to schools to facilitate reasonable adjustments to meet the needs of students at their local school from kindergarten to year 12.

Specialist Schools (SS) provide educational programs for students with high and complex needs who have a moderate to profound intellectual disability or Autism. There are two primary specialist schools and two secondary specialist schools on the north and south sides of Canberra.

Small group programs are provided at a range of public schools across the ACT for students from kindergarten to year 12:

  • Learning Support Centres (LSC)
    LSCs are small group programs for students with a significant learning delay, a mild intellectual disability or who meet the ACT Student Disability Criteria for Autism. They are located in various primary schools, high schools and colleges.
  • Learning Support Units (LSU)
    LSUs are small group programs located in primary schools, high schools and colleges. Students must meet the ACT Student Disability Criteria for Intellectual Disability or Autism to be eligible for a placement in these programs. They are located in various primary schools, high schools and colleges.
  • Learning Support Units Autism (LSUA)
    LSU-As are small group programs located in primary and high schools for students who meet the ACT Student Disability criteria for Autism. They are located in various primary schools and high schools.
  • P-10 School Disability Program (Harrison, Amaroo, Kingsford Smith, Namadgi and Caroline Chisholm)
    These schools provide a range of flexible programs and supports to meet the needs of students living in their Priority Enrolment Area, who are eligible to access LSU and LSUA programs, from the time of their enrolment through to their transition to year 11.
    For information on Student Engagement Disability Programs offered by ACT public schools in 2019 see 2019 Disability Education Programs. You will find more information about Priority Enrolment Areas at Find Your Local School (Priority Enrolment Area K-12)
    2019 Disability Education Program PDF File (130kb)

Placement in Disability Programs

School teams, including the school psychologist, work with parents and carers to understand and support the student’s educational needs and the interventions necessary to support their learning and engagement. The school psychologist will support parents to consider the range of programs and supports the student is eligible for.

The school psychologist, with parent consent, completes the Disability Education Program Application (DEPA) when applying for ISP, LSC, LSU, LSUA and P-10 School Disability Programs.

Completed DEPAs are reviewed by Disability Education and an offer of placement is made to parents when there is capacity within a small group program.

Applications for Disability Programs are accepted throughout the school year, with placement offers made when there is availability (vacancies).

Enrolling in a Public School

Inclusion Support Program (ISP)

Parents requesting ISP support should enrol their child using the online enrolment application form Enrolling in a Public School Applications are processed by the school/s you have listed on the online enrolment form. The school that enrols the child will receive the ISP resourcing.

Specialist School

When a student’s eligibility for Specialist School has been confirmed by a Directorate psychologist, parents should enrol their child using the online enrolment application form Enrolling in a Public School to enrol at the specialist school in the area where they live.

Small group programs (LSC, LSU, LSUA, P-10 DP)

Parents complete Disability Education Program Application ( DEPA) with current school psychologist. Applications are considered at Central Placement Panel (CPP). The parent receives an offer of placement following CPP that includes enrolment instructions. Placement in small group programs is dependent on capacity. ISP will be provided for students eligible for LSU, LSUA and P-10 DP when there is no available small group placement.

Transfers from Independent, Catholic, Interstate and Overseas Schools

Parents are required to contact Disability Education on 6205 6925 or Disabilityeducation@act.gov.au to discuss the range of programs and supports available in ACT public schools and to complete the eligibility process. Parents will be asked to provide evidence including assessment reports to confirm their child’s eligibility for the range of Disability Education Programs.

Student Centred Appraisal of Need

When a student is eligible for Disability Education support, their needs will be assessed in a Student Centred Appraisal of Need (The Appraisal). The Appraisal meeting is held once the student has commenced in the disability program. The meeting determines the extent of the student's needs at their school, in a variety of areas including communication, mobility, personal care and safety, social development and curriculum. Parents and carers are an important part of the meetings, which are guided by a trained moderator.

Please read the Student Centred Appraisal of Need: Booklet for Parents, Carers and Staff (390kb) for detailed information which will assist you in preparing for the meetings.

An Individual Learning Plan (ILP) is developed for all students who access Disability Education support. The plan is developed within the school in collaboration with families and other support staff. The ILP outlines agreed goals and strategies to support your child to access the school curriculum.

Central Placement Panel

Central Placement Panel (CPP) is conducted annually to process applications from parents and carers requesting placement for their child in a small group program (LSC, LSU, LSUA, P-10 Disability Program) for the following year. CPP is primarily for those students entering kindergarten, years seven and eleven the following year as well as those new to ACT public schools or looking to access a different program. The school psychologist at the child’s current school works with parents and carers to complete the necessary application.

While parent/carer preferences are taken into consideration, CPP decisions and offers of placements are primarily guided by the:

  • number of places available in each program;
  • location of the program in relation to student’s home address; and
  • educational support needs of the student.

When an offer of placement in a small group program is not possible ISP will be provided for students eligible for LSU, LSUA and P-10 DP.

CPP 2019

In 2019 CPP will take place late term two, with parents being advised of their child’s placement for 2020 in the first week of August 2019. This ensures parents, the sending and receiving schools and other involved professionals have time to plan a successful and well supported transition to the new placement.

Appeals and Concerns

Parents and carers should in the first instance talk with their child’s school if they have concerns about the educational program, or their child’s learning and development. The class teacher, school executive and school psychologist are all involved in ensuring students with disability are supported and able to access the curriculum. The school may also access additional supports through the Network Student Engagement Team (NSET) to assist the child’s participation, engagement and learning.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and School Education

The NDIS is a new way of supporting people with disability and can include funding for individual supports. The NDIS is administered by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA). For information about the NDIS and school education:

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)

ACT Education Directorate Disability Education Section

Disability Education:

For information about Disability Education programs, placement or the Appraisal process:

Phone: (02) 6205 6925
Email: disabilityeducation@act.gov.au

Concerns and Complaints:

Families & Students, Complaints & Feedback Unit
Phone: (02) 6205 5429
Online: https://www.education.act.gov.au/about-us/contact_us

Disability Education legislation and policies
Australian Government

Disability Standards for Education 2005
Disability Discrimination Act 1992
Nationally Consistent Collection of Data on School Students with Disability

ACT Government

Human Rights Act 2004
Education Act 2004
Discrimination Act 1991

ACT Education Directorate

Students with a Disability: Meeting their Educational Needs 2018