Student Diversity

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The purpose of this advice is to support teachers in meeting their obligations under the Disability Standards for Education 2005 (Commonwealth of Australia, 2006) (the Standards) to ensure that all students with disability are able to participate in the Australian Curriculum on the same basis as their peers through rigorous, meaningful and dignified learning programs. It builds on the general Student diversity advice and applies to all educational settings and contexts, including specialist schools and support classes.

The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and the Standards are intended to give students with disability the same rights as other students, including the right to education and training ‘on the same basis’ as students without disability.

The Standards apply to education providers, including principals, schools and teachers. Principals and schools can meet their obligations under the Standards by giving consideration to ‘reasonable adjustments’ to ensure that students with disability are provided with opportunities to participate in education and training on the same basis as students without disability. Before any adjustments are made, ‘consultation’ takes place between the school, student, and parents or carers.

What does ‘on the same basis’ mean?

  • ‘On the same basis’ means that a student with disability should have access to the same opportunities and choices in their education that are available to a student without disability.
  • ‘On the same basis’ means that students with disability are entitled to rigorous, relevant and engaging learning opportunities drawn from the Australian Curriculum and set in age-equivalent learning contexts.
  • ‘On the same basis’ does not mean that every student has the same experience but that they are entitled to equitable opportunities and choices to access age-equivalent content from all learning areas of the Australian Curriculum.
  • ‘On the same basis’ means that while all students will access age-equivalent content, the way in which they access it and the focus of their learning may vary according to their individual learning needs, strengths, goals and interests.

What is ‘consultation’ and who is involved?

  • Schools need to comply with the Standards, in regards to the Disability Standards for Education 2005, in regards to consultation, ensuring that there is a team of people who have significant knowledge and understanding of the student, including the student and their family members or carers.
  • ‘Consultation’ can involve the principal, class teachers and support teachers, and can include the professional expertise of therapists and other community service providers.
  • The purpose of the ‘consultation’ is to identify the barriers to a student’s learning and any adjustments that could be made.
  • ‘Consultation’ should take place regularly and changes made to adjustments if needed.
  • ‘Consultation’ should continue for the whole time that the student is involved with the school.

What are ‘reasonable adjustments’?

When describing or referring to adjustments, ACARA uses the definition in the Standards while acknowledging that states and territories may use differing terms.

  • An ‘adjustment’ is a measure or action taken to assist a student with disability to participate in education and training on the same basis as other students. Examples of adjustments are listed in the section Personalised learning.
  • An ‘adjustment’ is reasonable if it achieves this purpose while taking into account the student’s learning needs and balancing the interests of all parties affected, including the student with disability, the school, staff and other students.
  • The process of consultation outlined above is an integral part of ensuring that schools are meeting their obligations in relation to ‘reasonable adjustments’.
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