The students with disabilities excluded from our schools

Aug 6, 2019 by

For many families of children with disabilities, their first encounter with a Victorian state school is marked by “gatekeeping”.

They might be encouraged to enrol their child elsewhere or told a school has reached its capacity to accommodate kids with disabilities. Maybe they’re informed of zoning issues. Obtaining the contact details for key staff and signing up for school tours might be inexplicably difficult.

After enrolment, families might discover that teachers lack training in making appropriate curriculum adjustments, and aides are sometimes used to segregate rather than integrate students. Inadequate proactive support for children’s self-regulation contributes to the troubling use of restraint, while scarce and inequitably distributed funding puts schools under tremendous pressure.

These are key findings from a report by Monash University’s Castan Centre for Human Rights Law which was released last year. It identifies a piecemeal and erratic approach to “inclusive education” and an ad hoc application of Education Department policies.

Victoria has the most devolved model of all Australian state education systems. Schools operate as islands; support for students with disabilities is effectively discretionary, dependent upon the level of awareness and interest shown by key staff members. Parents often have little understanding of the guidelines schools are meant to follow, or of complaint procedures. Nor is the professional development available to overwhelmed, under-resourced teachers consistent or well-designed. Crucially, there is no routine oversight or audit of school practices by the department.

Source: The students with disabilities excluded from our schools

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