Home | In The Classroom | Health+Wellbeing | 9/10 schools do not have funds for disabled students

9/10 schools do not have funds for disabled students

Public schools do not have the funds needed to educate the rapidly increasing numbers of students with disabilities, with nine out of 10 principals saying their school is under-resourced in that area.

An Australian Education Union (AEU) survey, which questioned 15,000 principals, teachers and support staff, shows the number of principals who say they have the funding they need for students with disability fell from 17 per cent last year to just 11 per cent this year.

Eighty-nine per cent of principals are shifting funding from other areas of their budgets to try to pay for the assistance that students with disabilities need because they don’t get enough dedicated funding from governments; averaging $158,820 per school.

Principals say the main resources they are lacking are teachers’ aides and specialist support such as speech and occupational therapists.

Eight out of 10 principals also say they educate students with disabilities who do not qualify for federal government support, and only 36 per cent of classroom teachers said the professional development they have completed has given them the skills they need to teach students with disability.

A Guardian investigation found that students with a disability who attend a public school – and are given funding by state governments – receive only a sixth of the funding of their private school counterparts, who are funded by the Commonwealth.

The two governments use different funding delivery mechanisms, where an average of $10,000 per student is delivered by the federal government directly to private schools.

The Commonwealth delivers an average of $2,941 per student with a disability to public schools, as part of its 20 per cent Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) funding. The rest of the funds are allocated by state governments, who use particular methodologies that often underdeliver the necessary support funds.

AEU president Correna Haythorpe said about one in four students in public schools now report having a disability.

"Teachers need the time, training, and support, inside and outside the classroom, to be able to fully meet the needs of students with disability," she said.

"They also need access to inclusive learning spaces and specialised technology and equipment.

“The ramifications of public school underfunding are enormous for principals, teachers and students with disability."

The union is advocating for the federal government to overhaul the way students with disabilities are considered for funding and raise its share of the SRS to 25 per cent in every state and territory.

Federal Education Minister Jason Clare has secured deals with WA and the NT that will see Commonwealth funding lift to 22.5 per cent and 40 per cent respectively over a number of years.

Do you have an idea for a story?
Email [email protected]

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *