School can’t or school refusal has been steadily rising over the last few years, even prior to the pandemic. However, many parents are still unsure of their child rights when it comes to education.
The Disability and Standards for Education 2005 is quite clear. Students with a disability must have opportunities and choices which are comparable with those offered to students without disability. This applies to,
- Admission or enrolment in an institution.
- Participation in courses or programs.
- Use of facilities and services.
The standards clarify the obligations of education and training providers and the rights of people with a disability under the Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA)
Reasonable adjustments for disability.
Education and training providers are all required by Discrimination laws to ensure that all students have the right to attend school or training. Because of this legislation, it requires that all reasonable modifications or adjustments be made in order for a student with a disability to be able to attend school or training provider and to be able to access the facilities and programs. Hence, ensuring that students with a disability are afforded the same learning opportunities as those students without disability. What is actually considered reasonable adjustments?
Examples of adjustments include:
- Changing activities or work in line with your child’s needs
- Different ways to access information –for example, adaptive or assistive technology, sign language, multimedia, braille or illustrated text.
- Using assistive technology like voice recognition software, screen readers and adjustable desks
- Changing class schedules or locations.
- Accessing school support services like psychologists, speech pathologists and visiting teachers
- Changing the premises – for example: installing ramps or a lift.
- Offering different assessment options – for example, oral assessments instead of written, or multiple-choice questions.
- Extra time to finish class work or projects
- Modified activities and excursions – for example: if your child cannot take part in an activity, the education provider can offer an alternative.
- specialised professional development or training for your child’s teachers and other staff as needed.
- Allowing fidgets and concentration aids.
It is important to continually reassess your child’s accessibility needs at school as your child’s needs may change. Kindergarten or preschool and school can also have adjustments made to the enrolment process if needed.
Some students may need more support.
This support may be as well as or instead of adjustments, and may involve:
Visual and/or verbal prompts when completing classwork and/or assessments
Physical prompts and/or physical assistance when taking part in an activity
Provision of partial information/responses to assist the student to demonstrate understanding of knowledge, skills or concepts.
How to raise concerns about reasonable adjustments?
It is important that you raise any concerns about accessibility to your child’s school as soon as possible in order to make the necessary adjustments. This may be with the principal or their delegates. You and the school should regular review these supports and adjustments as your child progresses.
Parents, carers, students and staff have the right to raise a complaint at any time about their education provider. Start with your education provider first. Should the issue remain unresolved you may choice to raise a formal complaint with your states educational department.
- Public learning providers, public primary and secondary schools can have complaints directed to your state’s education department.
- Catholic archdiocese for independent Catholic schools.
- Registered non-government schools are required to have a complaint procedure.
All schools and training providers are required to provide an opportunity to resolve the issue. Schools may have information on their websites about their complaint processes or they can be requested directly from the school.
You may also choose to engage a school or disability advocate to negotiate on your behalf or engage legal assistances should you feel your rights have been breached.