Support for students with disability
As of March 2016, a notable 46,462 students in WA government schools require extra support due to disability, that’s 17.3 percent of all government school students. However, only 10.4 percent are receiving the extra help they need. WACSSO continues to advocate for increased State Government investment in supporting all students with disability on the basis of need by honouring the initial funding commitment for schools, established by the recommendations of the Gonski Review in 2013.
In August 2016, the Minister for Education announced increased support for students with disability, declaring Abilities Based Learning Education Western Australia (ABLEWA) resources would be available to all Western Australian schools following successful trials in 124 schools throughout the state. The ABLEWA program uses curriculum materials and an assessment tool (ABLES) to enhance the resources available to teachers in order to support the teaching and learning of students with disability and additional learning needs.
In accordance with WACSSO Policy 3.3.3 ‘Disability’, WACSSO maintains that classroom and school arrangements should ensure all people with disabilities (including students and their family members) can fully participate in all educational and school-related activities. There needs to be greater monitoring of practices in schools where students with disability attend in order to ensure their needs are being appropriately met. This includes measuring student outcomes to enable focussed evaluation of teaching methods. By measuring student outcomes the Department of Education will be able to better design and implement programs for students with disability.
Furthermore, WACSSO sees a need for the State Government to ensure appropriately trained and adequately resourced educational assistants are being employed. We are concerned that current minimum standards (or lack thereof) are negatively impacting educational and social outcomes of students with need. For example, there are no minimum qualifications in Auslan proficiency required for Educational Interpreters (EIs) in Western Australian classrooms. Furthermore, schools are the only State Government settings where interpreters are employed without holding a formal qualification from the National Accreditation Authority for Translators Interpreters (NAATI). EIs in WA schools should be required to hold this qualification and existing EIs should be supported to work towards the NAATI qualification to ensure all Deaf children in WA have access to a quality education. The State Government needs to support educational assistants and interpreters in their upskilling to improve educational outcomes for students with disability.
WACSSO calls for:
- State Government to make an increased funding commitment to ensure that students with disability and special educational needs are adequately supported through a wide range of programs and services in schools across the state;
- increased transparency in the allocation of need-based funding;
- appropriately trained and adequately resourced educational assistants be provided, ensuring that students with disabilities receive an excellent education enabling them to achieve to the best of their individual potential;
- a change to the Job Description Form for Education Interpreter that lists NAATI accreditation as an essential criteria; and
- a commitment to upskilling EAs and EIs to enable improved educational outcomes.
For referencing and the full report, click here.