Service providers in schools

Service providers in schools

Schools and service providers have a shared interest in achieving positive educational outcomes for students with disability. Schools, families and service providers are committed to supporting students reach their potential, enjoy meaningful relationships and participate in their communities.

You may engage external service providers to deliver services to your children when they require additional health, disability and wellbeing support.

In some circumstances, it may be appropriate for these services to be delivered at school to ensure your child receives the best support and can participate fully in school.  Working together as a team, schools, parents and providers can achieve the best educational outcomes for students.

The services offered by the provider may align with or complement the reasonable adjustments being provided by the school to facilitate the student’s access to education.  If the service does not link with the student’s learning needs or enhance access to education, the service may be better delivered outside of school hours.

Watch the video below to understand the process of working together

Schools take reasonable steps to ensure students with a diagnosed or imputed disability, as defined by the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, have access to specialised support services that are not provided by the Department. 

Principals have the responsibility and authority for approving a request for service providers to access and deliver services to a student in school.  The principal will make decisions that ensure that the school is able to run without disrupting learning and contributes to positive educational outcomes for the student/s.

Schools work with parents and providers to facilitate:

  • shared goals and understandings through consistent messaging between all stakeholders in relation to achieving a student’s educational goals.
  • positive and safe environments for students, that are productive and goal oriented.
  • opportunities for school staff and parents to better respond to a student’s needs.
Request for external providers to deliver services during school hours

You can request the delivery of services on a school site, during school hours by following the steps outlined below.

You are encouraged to meet with your child’s school to discuss engaging the services of a provider.  This will help to better understand the needs of your child and determine the most appropriate arrangement for delivering support.

Make a request in writing to the school principal to initiate a conversation.  This request should include information about the proposed service. 

You may use the Parent Request Form to guide your request.  Schools may also have their own form, discuss the request with your school. 

Providers can only make a direct request if they have the consent of the parent or carer.  Providers will not have automatic access to the school, even if they:

  • are funded to provide services through the National Disability Insurance Scheme or Medicare
  • have been provided access to students at another school
  • are working with another student in the same school.

Schools understand that working in partnership with parents and families, sharing goals and conducting meaningful consultations is critical to improving student outcomes. 

Schools will facilitate a discussion about the best interests of your child and what is needed to maximise their participation in learning.  This includes discussing how the service will be delivered at school and if it is best delivered in the school context. 

Schools will ensure the right people are involved in the discussion.  In considering the request, Principals need to take into account:

  • your child’s wellbeing and educational needs
  • your child’s access to education
  • goals set in your child’s documented plan
  • impact on other students and staff
  • timing and duration of the access needed
  • ability of your child to access the service outside school hours or through existing Department programs
  • provider’s use of school facilities and resources
  • duty of care to all students and staff.

When assessing applications, the principal may give preference to providers registered with regulatory bodies and frameworks such as Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Authority and the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

All decisions for parent initiated requests for service providers access to students is at the discretion of the school.  Some schools may require the development of a Service Schedule with the provider that sets out more detail about the proposed service before a final decision is made.

If the principal decides that the service is not able to be delivered at the school, you should talk to the school about how the service delivered outside of school can support your child’s learning.

The role of a service provider working in the school is to contribute to positive educational outcomes for your child, in a planned, collaborative manner. 

To ensure providers, schools and families have a clear understanding of their roles, the delivery of services in schools must be planned and documented.  Schools will complete a service schedule with the provider that sets out:

  • who will be providing services
  • what service will be delivered
  • where and when the provider will provide services to your child
  • when access to your child can be withdrawn
  • when school staff can supervise the provider with your child and
  • when and how the school and the provider will share relevant confidential information.

Before starting work in a school, the service provider will be asked to show that they comply with certain legal requirements.  The school will give providers information about these requirements.

Schools understand that effective relationships with provider’s and parents are responsive and have the flexibility required to meet educational goals where resources and priorities change.  It is important for parents and providers to know ongoing discussions about the Service Schedule will be required as detail may change as your child acquires skills and generalises them into the classroom or other contexts. 

Ongoing regular communication between all parties that reviews your child’s strengths, goals, and progress is critical.  You should be provided opportunities to give updates on your child’s wellbeing and progress outside of school.

Schools are required to report on your child’s goals outlined in their Document Plan and are not required to report on goals or outcomes from service providers.  In consultation with parents and providers, schools may ask for updates or reports from providers to ensure the service continues to link with and enhance your child’s educational goals.

In considering the school’s duty of care towards all staff and students, principals can deny or withdraw access to a provider if:

  • the service no longer supports the student’s educational needs
  • the service is impacting other students, staff or school operations
  • the service is unreliable or breaches the Service Schedule
  • they have concerns for the provider’s conduct or service quality.

The principal will contact you before they take this step. If you are unhappy with this decision, you should discuss it with the principal.

Parent and provider obligations

Parents work with schools in partnership to develop individualised educational goals and options for their child’s educational program.  It is important parents communicate with schools informing them of any relevant information or updates to an NDIS plan and their goals for their child’s education.

As changes or cancellations to services may impact a child’s educational program, schools will likely make prior arrangements or agreements with providers and parents on how and who will provide advice to the school should this occur.  Schools are not obliged to be the liaison between the student and the provider around cancellation, changes to services or personnel.

Parent obligations
  • Parents are responsible for communication with the provider including advising the provider if their child will be absent for the planned session or if there are any changes to their child’s goals 
Provider obligations
  • Providers are required to notify the student’s family if there are any changes to the planned services such as a different staff member or change to a scheduled appointment.  
  • Providers must also immediately inform the schools about anything related to a student’s welfare or safety.
  • Providers must demonstrate that they have the necessary checks, protections and training in place before they can deliver a service to students in a school. 

Providers must also have insurance to cover legal liability:

  • $20 million for public liability insurance
  • $5 million for professional indemnity insurance.

We also request that providers read and become familiar with our:

Schools will require evidence providers have a current Working with Children Check; a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check or a NDIS Worker Screening Check and are compliant with COVID-19 vaccination requirements.  

Request a review or make a complaint

Issues and concerns are more productively resolved if raised as early as possible.  It is important to discuss your concerns with your school principal in the first instance.  

Information is available to help you understand the complaints process of lodging a complaint about your child’s education.

If you want to make a complaint about the service provided by a provider, you should contact the provider directly, or contact the NDIA if they are NDIS registered.

You may wish to have a disability advocate attend meetings or case conferences with the school.  Disability Advocacy organisations can be accessed through the Disability Advocacy Network Australia.

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