More Work Needed to Assist School Students with Disability
17 August 2017 at 3:11 pm
A report by the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission into the experience of students with disabilities in Victorian schools has found that while there have been some significant policy developments in the last five years, more work was needed to ensure better outcomes for students.
The latest report detailed the progress made by the Department of Education and Training on the commission’s recommendations made in a 2012 research report called Held Back: The Experiences of Students with Disabilities in Victorian Schools.
The 2012 report examined how well students with disabilities fared in government, Catholic and independent schools across Victoria.
It found that, while many individual schools and teachers were working successfully to build inclusive schools and communities, disability discrimination was still occurring in schools and students with disabilities faced significant barriers to achieving equal outcomes.
Barriers included funding limitations, lack of specialist supports, inadequate knowledge and training about disability among teachers, lack of time for teachers to provide an individualised approach for students with disabilities, and discriminatory attitudes.
The commission’s five year analysis of progress looked at:
- maximising participation for students with disabilities through providing reasonable adjustments, the effective use of individual learning plans and other tools;
- accountability and the use of data;
- workforce training and capacity;
- regulation and oversight of the use of restraint and seclusion in schools; and
- rights awareness, complaints and engagement.
The report said that significant policy developments had occurred since the original report’s release including the Victorian government’s Special Needs Plan in 2015 with work being underway to implement its recommendations by 2018.
“Notwithstanding these developments, the commission said it had continued to receive feedback from stakeholders that in some areas progress remained slow – in particular, some stakeholders have suggested that these high-level policy changes were simply not being felt in schools,” the report said.
It said sustained or increased requests for advocacy support for students facing barriers to inclusion in the Victorian education system since the initial report provided strong evidence of a gap in policy and practice.