Policy Submission: Levels of access and attainment for students living with disability in the school system and the impact on students and families associated with inadequate levels of support
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JFA Purple Orange made this submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Education and Employment Inquiry on Levels of access and attainment for students living with disability in the school system and the impact on students and families associated with inadequate levels of support.
This submission endorses the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the National Disability Strategy 2010-2020 and various government initiatives intended to support students living with disability in the education system. However, we note attempts to improve the education experience and outcomes for people living with disability to date have had limited impact.
Our submission highlights that people living with disability must have power, choice and control over their own lives, which is based upon a foundation established through education. Education is a fundamental human right, and we cannot deny people living with disability this life-defining experience. Any real and sustainable change must be built upon measures that positively build a person’s capacity and maximise the goodness in a person life.
On the basis of the experiences of students living with disability and parents of young people experiencing education, JFA Purple Orange makes the following recommendations:
That the Australian Government resolve a new disability standard in education that “every student has the choice to attend their local, mainstream neighbourhood school and get a successful education”.
All new schools are designed with physical access in mind, so that they can be used by all students.
Ensure all schools have access to resources to undertake necessary adaptations to the school environment, curriculum and other elements of school life, to ensure authentic participation of all students.
That every student living with disability has a regularly reviewed individual education success plan that drives the measures referenced in the other recommendations in this paper, and which systematically builds the student, family and school's belief in the student's success and attainment.
Ensure each individual education success plan includes an element that attends to building the student's genuine membership of the school community.
Invest in creative ways of supporting young people living with disability such as youth mentoring, the Circles Initiative and a reference committee of people living with disability who inform each state and territory’s Education Department about supporting people living with disability to attain their education and extra-curricular goals.
That school information and awareness for teachers be enhanced through consultation with expert organisations relating to the young person’s specific disability.
Ensure teachers' core professional training, and continuing professional development, includes mandatory content on teaching to a diverse classroom.
Ensure all school leadership appointments include a core competence criterion about a commitment to inclusion and diversity.
Prioritise and encourage parent advocacy on behalf of the young person living with disability with awareness that parents are a vital source of information about the young person.