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Copy_of_CD-12-432859_--_Held_Back_RTF_-_final_version_for_web.doc

Copy_of_CD-12-432859_--_Held_Back_RTF_-_final_version_for_web.doc

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Unformatted text preview: Held back > The experiences of students with disabilities in Victorian schools humanrightscommission.vic.gov.au Held back: The experiences of students with disabilities in Victorian schools Page 1 of 297 Held back: The experiences of students with disabilities in Victorian schools. Published by the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, Level 3, 204 Lygon Street, Carlton, Victoria 3053. September 2012. Copyright © State of Victoria 2012 This publication is copyright. No part of it may be reproduced by any process except with permission from the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (the Commission) or in accordance with the Copyright Act 1968. On request the Commission may give permission for this material to be reproduced provided it is for a purpose consistent with the objectives of the Equal Opportunity Act and the Commission is acknowledged as the source. Contact communicatio[email protected] for permission to reproduce material from the publication. About the Commission The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission is an independent statutory body that has functions under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 and the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006. Our functions include resolving disputes, providing education about human rights and equality of opportunity, undertaking projects and activities aimed at eliminating discrimination and promoting human rights, conducting research, and providing legal and policy advice. In addition, the Commission reports to the Attorney-General on the operation of the Charter and, at the request of public authorities, conducts compliance reviews. Contact us Enquiry Line Fax Hearing impaired (TTY) Interpreters Email Website 1300 292 153 or (03) 9032 3583 1300 891 858 1300 289 621 1300 152 494 [email protected] humanrightscommission.vic.gov.au Accessible formats This document is available for downloading from our website at humanrightscommission.vic.gov.au/resources in PDF and RTF. Please contact the Commission if you require other accessible formats. Privacy The Commission complies with Victorian privacy laws and the confidentiality provisions of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010. Our privacy policy is available online at humanrightscommission.vic.gov.au/privacy or by contacting us. ISBN 978-0-9873730-0-7 Disclaimer This information is intended as a guide only. It is not a substitute for legal advice on any of the issues raised in the report. Held back: The experiences of students with disabilities in Victorian schools Page 2 of 297 Foreword In Victoria today more than 100,000 students in Victorian schools have a disability that may affect their learning ability. These students have a wide range of disabilities – they may be blind or deaf, have a physical disability that requires them to use a wheelchair or other aides, a learning disability that affects their ability to process verbal or written information, or a disability that affects their behaviour and the way they learn. The complexity of the modern school classroom, and the demands on today’s educators, is reflected in the diversity of needs of these students. Each of these students has the right to the best possible education we as a society can provide. We have committed to providing all children with an education because we understand that it is an essential foundation to economic and social wellbeing later in life. We all expect that when we send our children to school they will be given the best opportunity to learn. The Commission undertook this research project in response to concerns expressed to us by parents, advocates and community members that for students with disabilities accessing a good education and achieving good learning outcomes was a lottery rather than a certainty. To better understand what was happening for these children we sought feedback through surveys, ‘have a say days’ ,case studies and submissions so we could give voice to those experiences – good and bad. More than 1,800 people participated in the project – small when you compare it with the number of students enrolled in Victorian schools – but a big enough number to demonstrate the interest and passion this topic can generate. Parents and teachers told us of the commitment they bring to ensuring students gain access to the best possible educational opportunities. But they also told us of the attitudes that held children back. These include, inflexible policies which they feel deny students the opportunity to achieve, persistent experiences of bullying, the difference a committed school principal can make, and the lack of appropriate training for teachers, both at university and after qualifying, to make sure they could provide the best possible support to students. Parents told us of the personal strain and distress and of constant negotiation to make sure their child was not left behind. Some gave up jobs, moved suburbs, or spent many hours a day travelling to make sure their child was at a school they felt could offer the best learning environment. Some parents used the project to voice concerns they felt too afraid to raise with their school. Many told us they were reluctant to make formal complaints because for the few that did it was often a difficult path leading to legal arguments that didn’t reflect their lived experience – there was no understanding and acknowledgement that their child did not have the educational outcomes they were capable of achieving. The Commission worked with government and non-government education providers in preparing this report. We particularly acknowledge and thank the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD) for its assistance with the preparation of this report. We particularly thank Mark Tainsh, Director, Disabilities and Additional Needs, who has spent many hours on meetings, emails and interviews providing information to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the report. The Commission wants to thank the many parents, educators, students and advocates who took time to complete surveys, provide us with submissions and Held back: The experiences of students with disabilities in Victorian schools Page 3 of 297 attend meetings to inform this research. We appreciate the report itself does not resolve the many issues they have raised with us but we hope they appreciate our genuine effort to provide a vehicle for their voices to be recognised and heard. Thanks also to the many Commission staff, led by Michelle Burrell, Manager Strategic Projects and Policy Unit, who have worked on the report for many months. The Commission welcomes the initiatives announced by DEECD to enhance the learning experience of students with disabilities in Victorian government schools and its commitment to providing high quality learning and wellbeing outcomes for their students. A recent report found that almost half of people with a disability in Australia live in or near poverty, with Australia ranking last in 27 developed countries for economic outcomes for people with a disability. Australians with a disability are half as likely to be employed as people without a disability. While many factors contribute to this terrible report card we know that education is absolutely essential to addressing this gap. With funding models for students and schools under scrutiny and up for negotiation, the Commission hopes this report can contribute specifically to a better understanding of the issues and barriers facing students with disability. As a community, we need to make sure that the need for investment in education for students with disabilities is understood and realised. Not just because they are entitled to the best possible education but also because we all benefit - at a individual, community and national level. If these young people are held back, we all are. Karen Toohey Acting Commissioner Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission Held back: The experiences of students with disabilities in Victorian schools Page 4 of 297 Contents Foreword................................................................................ 3 Executive summary.................................................................9 Challenges at the system level- government schools...........................9 Challenges at the school level.............................................................10 Building more inclusive schools...........................................................12 Recommendations.................................................................14 Part 1: Background.....................................................21 Chapter 1: About the research...............................................22 Aim of the project................................................................................22 The Commission’s interest in the issue...............................................22 How the project came about................................................................23 Context for the research......................................................................24 Policy context......................................................................................25 Legal context.......................................................................................28 Chapter 2: Methodology........................................................30 Project components.............................................................................30 Limitations of the research..................................................................32 Terminology.........................................................................................33 Part 2: Experiences....................................................35 Chapter 3: Enrolment............................................................36 Standards for enrolment......................................................................36 Main findings.......................................................................................37 Experiences of enrolment....................................................................38 Opportunities for improvement...........................................................46 Recommendations...............................................................................47 Chapter 4: Participation........................................................48 Standards for participation..................................................................48 Main findings.......................................................................................49 Experiences of participation................................................................49 Making reasonable adjustments..........................................................50 Effectiveness of adjustments...............................................................54 Barriers to participation.......................................................................55 Consequences of not making adjustments..........................................64 Opportunities for improvement...........................................................65 Recommendations...............................................................................67 Chapter 5: Curriculum development, accreditation and delivery ............................................................................................ 68 Standards for curriculum development, accreditation and delivery....68 Main findings.......................................................................................69 Building on existing curriculum resources to have more impact.........71 Adjustments for assessments and exams............................................73 Are adjustments made when requested?............................................78 Impacts of not making proper adjustments to curriculum or assessment..........................................................................................79 Held back: The experiences of students with disabilities in Victorian schools Page 5 of 297 Opportunities for improvement...........................................................79 Recommendations...............................................................................80 Chapter 6: Student support services......................................82 Standards for student support services...............................................82 Main findings.......................................................................................83 Experiences of parents, students and educators.................................83 Current provision of student support services in government schools 88 Unmet need for assistive technologies................................................91 Better utilisation of available resources..............................................93 Opportunities for improvement...........................................................94 Recommendations...............................................................................95 Chapter 7: Elimination of harassment and victimisation..........96 Standards for the elimination of harassment and victimisation..........96 Main findings.......................................................................................97 Experiences of discrimination..............................................................97 Experiences of bullying......................................................................100 Current efforts to eliminate harassment and victimisation, including bullying..............................................................................................109 Opportunities for improvement.........................................................110 Recommendations.............................................................................111 Part 3: Specific issues of concern..............................112 Chapter 8: Student support groups and individual learning plans .......................................................................................... 113 Main findings.....................................................................................113 General experiences of consultation.................................................113 Student support groups.....................................................................114 Quality of consultation.......................................................................118 Individual learning plans....................................................................120 Opportunities for improvement.........................................................125 Recommendations.............................................................................126 Chapter 9: School attendance patterns of students with disabilities..........................................................................128 Main findings.....................................................................................128 Patterns of attendance......................................................................128 Home-schooling and distance education...........................................128 Dual enrolment..................................................................................129 Part-time attendance.........................................................................130 Suspension of students with disabilities............................................134 Expulsion...........................................................................................136 Impacts of suspension and expulsion................................................141 Opportunities for improvement.........................................................141 Recommendations.............................................................................142 Chapter 10: Use of restraint and seclusion............................144 Main findings.....................................................................................144 Experiences of parents and students................................................145 Human rights considerations regarding the use of restraint and seclusion............................................................................................146 Frequency of physical restraint and seclusion in Victorian schools. . .148 Held back: The experiences of students with disabilities in Victorian schools Page 6 of 297 Educators’ descriptions.....................................................................152 Parents’ reports of seclusion..............................................................153 How are allegations of restraint and seclusion managed?................154 Training of educators.........................................................................155 Current regulation of restrictive practices in Victorian schools.........156 Opportunities for improvement.........................................................156 Recommendations.............................................................................156 Chapter 11: Transport..........................................................156 Main findings.....................................................................................156 Transport policy and provision for students with disabilities.............156 Student experiences of accessing transport......................................156 Parent perspectives...........................................................................156 Eligibility for specialist school buses – zoning rules...........................156 Opportunities for improvement.........................................................156 Recommendations.............................................................................156 Chapter 12: Transition points in education............................156 Main findings.....................................................................................156 Continuity in meeting students needs...............................................156 Opportunities for improvement.........................................................156 Recommendations.............................................................................156 Chapter 13: Complaints.......................................................156 Main findings.....................................................................................156 The DEECD complaints policy............................................................156 Complaints handling in Catholic and Independent schools...............156 Complaints handling in government schools.....................................156 Experiences of the complaints system..............................................156 Reasons for not making a complaint.................................................156 Relationships with the school after making a complaint...................156 Opportunities for improvement.........................................................156 Recommendations.............................................................................156 Part 4: Removing barriers in the system – building capacity...................................................................156 Chapter 14: Funding and resources......................................156 Main findings.....................................................................................156 Funding for students with disabilities in Victorian government schools ..........................................................................................................156 The Program for Students with Disabilities (PSD)..............................156 Parent experiences of the PSD...........................................................156 Problems identified by parents and educators..................................156 Necessary adjustments are less likely to be made if the student does not attract ...
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