school books with apple

How do I choose the right school for my child ?

Introduction

Every child has the right to attend their local Government school, regardless of any disability they may have.  Research has shown repeatedly that when children with disability are included in their local school community, they and their peers without disability experience more positive academic, social and emotional learning outcomes than when children experience non-inclusive learning environments. 

Despite this, it can be more difficult for students with intellectual and other developmental disabilities to find a school they enjoy attending, where they have friends and are academically challenged with the right supports.  

DDWA recognises that there can be considerable variation in the educational provision and support for students with disability across the Government, Private and Independent sectors.  Some mainstream and some designated education support settings meet their students’ diverse needs very well, whilst others across sectors in both mainstream and education support settings do not yet have the most contemporary knowledge or experience to teach, support and include students with complex needs as well.

This information is designed to help families understand what education options are available to their child/children and how to get support if there are difficulties.  

school aprons hanging on a wall

How will I know if a school is right for my child?

Many families suggest visiting at least a couple of schools so you can get a “feel” of different settings. You can ask questions and generally get a sense of the layout and culture of the school when you visit. Speak to other families about their own experiences from various schools. You can also join online forums to get a sense of what the school and its community is like.  

What do I need to look for in a school for my child?

Here are some factors to think about when considering different schools:

  • What are the school’s values regarding everyone having the opportunity for a good education?
  • How welcoming does the school feel? 
  • What are their attitudes to teaching students with disabilities?
  • Does the school believe in your child’s ability to learn?  
  • How open are the Principal and other key staff to listening to you about your child’s support needs and other factors that may be important for learning?
  • What do the teachers say about making academic and other adjustments to suit your child? Do they demonstrate willingness and skills?
  • Can you meet with the teacher(s) who will teach your child?
  • How will your child be supported in the playground? 
  • How will your child be supported to play with others and make friends?  
  • Travel – can you walk to the school? Is transport available and easy to use?  Is there accessible parking?
  • What are the experiences of other children with disabilities and their parents at this school?

Government schools: Can I enrol my child with a disability at my local school?

Yes.

As a parent you want to choose a school that best suits your child, your family and your individual circumstances. In Western Australia most students with disability attend their local Government school. A range of other support centres and schools are also available to eligible students. 

Your local school can give your child support in mainstream classes through individualised planning and adjustments.  Often the school will work with parents to develop an Individual Education Plan (IEP) or Individual Support Plan – (see Section 3 for more information on IEPs). Schools receive resources to support the learning of all students, including those with disability. Schools can apply for additional “Individual Disability Allocation” (IDA) funding to provide extra support for children with disability.  (More information on IDA funding can be found in Section 5). 

What are potential advantages of sending my child with a disability to our local school?

  • Less travel time, or the potential to walk/ride to school. 
  • Greater chance that your child’s classmates will live in your local area making it easier for them to make local friends. 
  • Community awareness and connection which could have benefits for years into the future. 
  • Your child can attend the same school as their siblings (this may or may not suit your family) – only one school to travel to/from each day. 
  • Can help your local community to understand and be more aware of people with disability living in their local area. 
  • More likely that families at your local school will live near you and may be able to help you with the school-run, lifts, playdates, sleepovers etc. 
  • The chance to build your support network through friendships with parents in your local area.

What supports are provided for students with disability at my local public school?

Many teachers are skilled at providing individual adjustments for students in their classroom. Adjustments are the ways that teachers and schools make changes to teaching and learning programs, lessons, assessments or the school environment for children with disability. These adjustments should help maximise your child’s opportunities for learning, friendship development and enjoyment at school. The physical school environment may also be adjusted so your child can access facilities and other activities.

Local schools have access to specialist teachers and school psychology services. The Principal at your child’s local public school can seek support for your child’s educators via specialist teachers from the services below: 

If I choose to send my child to a private school, what rules govern what the supports provided will be?  What can I expect as opposed to the public system?

The education supports your child may receive in a private school will depend very much on the on the values and determination that the school leadership and teaching teams to support and implement personalised programs for individual children.

Private schools are required to abide by all laws in relation to schooling and disability discrimination legislation as do schools in the public system. Private schools may have different funding arrangements however they all are required on the basis of accepting your enrolment to provide an appropriate education program for your child. 

Can I directly enrol my child in a public education support centre or education support school?

Yes, providing your child is eligible.  Education support centres are different to education support schools because they are co-located on the grounds of local primary and secondary public schools. There is generally an education support centre in each suburban area. Education support schools are usually separate schools that provide educational programs supported by access to specialist facilities including therapy rooms, multi-sensory environments, independent living centres, swimming pools and play spaces. 

https://www.waespaa.com.au/looking-for-a-school

What is the eligibility criteria for an education support centre or education support school?

To find out how to enrol in an education support centre or school, contact your local Regional Education Office or an education support centre or school near you. Enrolment processes are organised through the local Regional Education Office and transport is arranged by the Public Transport Authority according to bus boundaries. 

Regional Education offices provide information on local public school options, special programs and services such as school psychology, behaviour centres, home education and reporting students not attending school. The Coordinator of Regional Operations (CRO) can assist you to restart a discussion with the school leadership team.

To be eligible to come to an education support centre, a child must have an IQ (intelligence quotient) documented as lower than 70, as well as low adaptive behaviour scores ie. an intellectual disability (ID) or very high needs autism (ASD) usually with an intellectual disability. You may need to provide evidence of your child’s support needs such as test results, IQ score (cognitive assessment), medical, psychology and other allied health reports. Your child will need to be eligible for an Individual Disability Allocation (IDA) – an allocation of funding for the school to cater for your child’s support needs.

Programs range from early intervention, independent living skills, functional and specific academic programs to workplace learning, alternatives to employment and career education for students with an intellectual disability with specific support needs.

This following link is to a page designed by WA Education Support Principals & Administration Association (WAEPA) to assist you to navigate the choices of Public Education specialist Schools, Centres or facilities which best meets the needs of children with special education need.

www.waespaa.com.au/looking-for-a-school

Regional Education Office Contacts

North Metropolitan Education Regional Office
T: 9285 3600 F: 9285 3730
A: Level 2/1 Puccini Court, Stirling WA 6021
P: PO Box 1126 Innaloo City WA 6918
Email
Schools in this region
South Metropolitan Education Regional Office
T: 9336 9563  F: 9336 2237
A: 184 Hampton Road, Beaconsfield WA 6162
P: PO Box 63 South Fremantle WA 6162
Email
Schools in this region
Goldfields Education Regional Office
T: 9093 5600  F: 9093 5656
A: Federal Road, Kalgoorlie WA 6430
P: PO Box 385 Kalgoorlie WA 6433
Email
Schools in this region
Kimberley Education Regional Office
T: 9192 0800  F: 9193 6718
A: 10 Coghlan Street, Broome WA 6725
P: PO Box 2142 Broome WA 6725
Email
Schools in this region
Midwest Education Regional Office
T: 9956 1600  F: 9964 1391
A: Level 2, 209 Foreshore Drive, Geraldton WA 6530
P: PO Box 63 Geraldton WA 6530
Email
Schools in this region
Pilbara Education Regional Office
T: 9185 0111  F: 9185 0137
A: Level 2, 20 Sharpe Avenue, Karratha WA 6714
P: PO Box 384 Karratha WA 6714
Email
Schools in this region
Southwest Education Regional Office
T: 9791 0300  F: 9791 2228
A: Bunbury Tower 5th Floor, 61 Victoria Street, Bunbury WA 6230
P: Bunbury Tower, 61 Victoria Street, Bunbury 6230
Email 
Schools in this region
Wheatbelt Education Regional Office
T: 9622 0200  F: 9622 3996
A: McIver House, 297 Fitzgerald Street, Northam WA 6401
P: Box 394 Northam WA 6401
Email
Schools in this region

I have two children currently in the Catholic system, can my child with a disability attend the same school even though there is not an Education Support Centre at the school?

Catholic Education Western Australia is committed to inclusive practice and provides a range of adjustments for students with disability and additional needs. These include:

  • individualised learning plans
  • access to specialised programs, resources and equipment
  • small group or individual instruction
  • teacher assistant support

https://www.cewa.edu.au/school-near-you/

As for all schools, the education supports your child may receive in a Catholic school will depend on the innovation, values and determination the school principal and teaching team have to support your child well in the school.

Can my child attend an Education Support Centre in the Catholic or Independent systems?

Catholic Schools

Education Support Centres have been established in designated primary and secondary Catholic schools for students with disability whose educational needs require the provision of additional support and resources. 

Independent Schools

Some independent schools also have an Education Support Centre onsite. Education Support Centres generally include a special education teacher and additional teacher assistants, as well as specialised resources and facilities. 

Depending on individual needs and abilities, some students will receive most of their academic program in the Education Support Centre, while others will spend the majority of their time in regular classes with varying levels of support. 

https://www.ais.wa.edu.au/search-for-a-school