Improving education standards

Maureen Corrigan
Summary 
The Australian Government is reviewing education standards for students with a disability. The standards have been in place for five years. The Australian Federation of Disability Organisations says the review is needed. They say many students with a disability are still not treated well. A discussion paper has been released. You can also have your say. The deadline for feedback is April 21.
Posted by: 
Maureen Corrigan on 31/03/2011
A female student writing on a workbook
student

Reviewing education standards for students with a disability

The Federal Government is currently reviewing education standards for students with a disability. The Australian Federation of Disability Organisations says the review is needed because discrimination still exists.

The Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO) was part of the advisory group for the standards review. AFDO National Policy Officer Leah Hobson says parents, children and older students with a disability still say there is discrimination in the Australian education system.

Denied entry

Children are denied entry into schools because the school isn't physically accessible, says Ms Hobson. Even with the best policies in place, sometimes teachers have the attitude that students with disabilities shouldn't be taught.

Ms Hobson says people with a disability are also less likely to enroll in tertiary study than those without disability. When they do, they can experience discrimination and they may not complete courses as often as people without disability as a result.

Help remove barriers

The Federal Government says the review of the disability standards for education will help remove barriers to educational achievement. The review will help ensure a more inclusive Australian society which enables people with disability to achieve their full potential, according to Minister for School Education, Peter Garrett.

The Disability Standards for Education have been in place for five years, says Mr Garrett. It’s time we looked at their effectiveness in giving those with disability every opportunity to succeed in the education system.

Mr Garrett says recent figures show the numbers of funded school students with disability increased by more than 20 per cent in the four years from 2005 to 2009.

Access and participate

The purpose of the Disability Standards for Education is to ensure students with a disability are able to access and participate in education like any other students. The standards attempt to make rights and responsibilities in education and training easier to understand.

The standards cover the following areas:

  • Enrolment
  • Participation
  • Curriculum development
  • Support services
  • Elimination of harassment and victimisation.

Discussion paper

The Federal Government has issued a discussion paper called Review of Disability Standards for Education. The discussion paper is available at the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations website (opens new window).

The discussion paper’s purpose is to explain the standards. It also tries to encourage feedback about whether the standards have been effective. The paper covers topics like:

  • Student rights
  • Obligations of education and training providers
  • The recognition and acceptance of students with a disability
  • Compatibility with the current education system.

Feedback encouraged

The review is interested in feedback on how the standards work in practice. Feedback is encouraged in areas such as:

  • Whether the standards give enough information about the rights of students to access and participate in education and training
  • Whether there is enough information and guidance about what the standards are required to do
  • How certain processes work for students and their families and whether there is enough help for them in the standards
  • Whether more work is needed to raise awareness of the needs and the best ways to recognise the rights of students with a disability
  • Whether there have been any changes in contemporary education that may mean changes to the standards.

Make a submission

Anyone can make a submission to the review. The deadline is April 21. Meetings with organisations representing both students and education providers are also being held across Australia.

Details can be found at the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations website (opens new window).
 

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