Teachers ‘overwhelmed’ helping special needs students

by Robert Ballantyne17 Mar 2017


The public school system is “failing” the children who need it most, a NSW parliamentary inquiry has been told.

In many cases, students are being told to tutor each other, as “overwhelmed” teachers are too busy helping special needs children.

As a result, some schools are seeing increased ‘peer tutoring’ where students are left to help one another rather than receive support from their teacher.

Children and Young people with a Disability Australia (CYDA) CEO, Stephanie Gotlib, told The Educator that it is commonly reported that a key barrier for students with disability in accessing education is teachers lack time, resources and expertise.

“Consequently, students with disability  are often excluded, provided with menial tasks to complete of which there are no clear educational benefits, or responsibility is shifted to the integration aide for curriculum, modification or instruction,” she said.

Gotlib added that students with disability are contending with “profound barriers and disadvantage” within the NSW education system.

“A typical education experience for students with disability involves discrimination, limited or no funding for support, inadequate expertise of staff, a systemic culture of low expectations, exclusion and bullying,” she said.

“There are also increasing incidents of restraint and seclusion reported to CYDA.”

She added that these experiences, which are currently reported to CYDA, are commonly experienced across a range of education jurisdictions which encompasses government and non-government schools.

Recent data from both federal and state governments has shown that more than half of students with a disability who need funded support at school are not getting it.

The Australian Education Union’s (AEU) deputy federal president, Maurie Mulheron, said the Federal Government had “known about this data for over a year and done nothing”.