Our submission on the Disability Standards for Education
September 18, 2020
This week Down Syndrome Australia provided the Department of Education, Skills and Employment with a submission on the 2020 Review of the Disability Standards for Education.
The Disability Standards for Education 2005 (Standards) seek to ensure that students with a disability can access and participate in education on the same basis as students without a disability. The Standards set out the rights of students with a disability, the legal obligations of education providers, and examples of what can be done to meet the requirements of each part of the Standards.
Down Syndrome Australia receives regular reports from families about difficult interactions and experiences within schools. Students with Down syndrome are at times turned away from mainstream schools, or do not receive appropriate adjustments and supports once enrolled. Sometimes schools seemingly meet their legal requirement to consult families, but in practice this can be about informing them about decisions already made rather than genuinely consulting with them.
Many students with a disability struggle to get access to the supports they need within the education system. The Standards are not achieving their aims and objectives to “ensure that students with disability are able to access and participate in education on the same basis as students without disability.”
There is a clear need to make improvements to the Standards to ensure that all students with disability have access to mainstream education and can get the adjustments and supports that they require.
There is overwhelming evidence that inclusive education leads to better academic and social outcomes for both students with and without a disability. The research shows that all students benefit from an inclusive education setting. DSA argues that the education system needs to be reformed to ensure that it is able to provide a high-quality inclusive education to every student, that respects their individual characteristics and meets their educational needs.
Changes to the Standards should be done as part of broader education reform to achieve inclusive education in Australia and meet our obligations under the UNCRPD.
Read our submission on the Disability Standards for Education in PDF here.
Read our submission on the Disability Standards for Education in Word here.