Policy & Administration in Special Education
Critical analysis of policy.
The New South Wales Department of Education and Communities (NSW DEC) Every Student, Every School initiative (ESES) is complex with multiple, integrated project activities staged over 2012 to 2013. It is supported by $47.9 million provided by the Commonwealth Government’s National Partnership: More Support for Students with Disabilities. The
objective is that NSW DEC schools and their teachers will build capacity to meet the needs of students with a disability and additional learning and support needs. ESES provides a framework for improving and enhancing learning and support in school (NSW Department of Education and Communities, 2012).
ESES is aimed at improving responses under the commonwealth’s Disability Standards for Education 2005 (NSW Department of Education and Communities, 2012). Despite major changes in legislation in the 20th century there has been inadequate improvement in education for people with a disability in Australia and these students are falling behind as a result (Commonwealth Government, 2009; Pricewaterhouse Coopers, 2011). This has meant that change is necessary to improve outcomes for these students. The Disability Standards for Education (2005) endorse the rights of students with a disability to enrol in their mainstream school on the same basis as every other student. The Commonwealth Disability
Discrimination Act (DDA), 1992 gives a broad definition of disability including physical or sensory impairment, intellectual disability, brain injury, emotional and mental health disorders, disorders that result in a person learning differently to others and behaviour that is a symptom or manifestation of disability and learning difficulties (DDA, 1992 & Human Rights Commission, 2005). Legal obligations under the DDA and Standards apply equally to all of these students and as result all teachers must make personalised adjustments to enable students with a disability to access and participate in learning on the same basis as their peers without a disability. There are five project areas in ESES, which together provide an
integrated approach to building the capabilities of schools to provide high quality support for students with a disability and additional learning and support needs (NSW Department of Education and Communities, 2012).
The first project area of ESES is Professional learning for skilled and knowledgeable teachers. Opportunities for professional learning for teachers and support staff are being developed. One opportunity is the availability of up to 300 scholarships, for teachers to gain
a Masters in special education (NSW Department of Education and Communities, 2012). According to Fang & Sass (2010) gains in learning, particularly reading, for students with a disability are greater when the teacher holds a post graduate qualification. Authors of the Mapping the Territory report (Louden et al., 2000 as cited in Fielding-Barnsley, 2005) recommended that post graduate qualifications for teachers should be supported. Many teachers have no formal training in special education and may lack the financial resources to obtain such qualifications (Matsuda et. al, 2005). Many teachers simply believe they don’t possess the time, experience or access to professional development to support teaching children with disabilities in a mainstream class (Shaddock, Giorcelli & Smith, 2008). The ESES scholarships offer teachers a financial incentive to complete a post graduate qualification, as well as the opportunity to building skill level and knowledge to improve classroom practice.
Hattie (2005) has found that how teachers teach has the biggest influence on a student’s learning. Other research explains that the most important determinant of student achievement is teacher quality (Rockoff 2004; Rivin, Hanushek, & Kain 2005; Aaronson, Barrow & Sander 2007; Harris & Sass 2008, as cited in...