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17 February 2017

'Each child's needs at heart of schooling': DG

Department of Education Director General Sharyn O’Neill has refuted suggestions that schooling for students with disability is “inflexible”.

“Our public schools work closely with families to consider the needs of each and every child and make the best educational plan for them,” Ms O’Neill.

Direfctor General Sharyn O'Neill.

Director General Sharyn O'Neill says the Department offers a wide-range of flexibility in learning programs for students with disability, and is always looking to improve.

“We can always do more, and we can always get better at it – we are changing and improving our services all the time.

“We offer a wide-range of flexibility – for example, children can be in school, or an education support centre designed for students with different needs where they are taught by specialised staff.

“Our visiting teachers, who are experts in disability, go out and support schools and others with expertise in medical and mental health issues visit families at home to work with them.”

She said there was a very small group of students (about 170 students) who – for complex reasons which could include serious medical and mental health issues – were unable to be at school full-time.

“Those students received tailored learning programs and support – some of those children may be in school part-time and then at home for other parts of their program,” she said.

Ms O’Neill said the more than 9,000 students with disability in public schools were catered for in a range of learning programs.

Schools adjusted learning programs to meet the needs of students, for example, by offering access to therapy and medical support if required.

“We’re also opening 16 new Autism centres by 2020, we injected additional funding for students with disabilities and we’re changing and improving our education services all the time,” Ms O’Neill said.

“We all want what’s best for students with disabilities, many of whom do it tough. We work together with their parents to provide the best possible education.”

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