Enrolment in specialist schools
For parents/carers seeking a specialist educational setting for their child with disability, there are a range of government specialist schools that provide specialised education for students with specific disability and high needs.
Each specialist school has specific enrolment criteria that are approved by the Minister for Education or their delegate (typically the Department’s regional director). Specialist schools must have a local enrolment policy that lists these enrolment criteria, and specialist schools must publish their local enrolment policy in a visible and accessible location on their school website.
Students must meet a specialist school’s enrolment criteria in order to enrol at that school.
The Department provides assessment services and a specialist school enrolment verification process to support specialist schools in determining whether the student meets their enrolment criteria. Department regional offices also play a role in supporting specialist schools with enrolment processes. The type of verification process depends on whether a specialist school is in a Disability Inclusion area.
Enrolment verification for specialist schools
All specialist schools have disability enrolment criteria that align with the categories provided in the Department’s Program for Students with Disabilities (PSD). For specialist schools that enrol students who are eligible under the PSD, the enrolment verification process is undertaken as part of the broader assessment process for the PSD. Additional disability criteria that do not align with the PSD categories (for example, IQ requirements for enrolment in single-mode intellectual disability schools) are verified locally by the school and regional disability coordinators.
Enrolment verification process for specialist schools in Disability Inclusion areas
The new Disability Inclusion funding and support model does not change specialist school enrolment criteria, including disability enrolment criteria that align with the PSD categories. As such, schools that have moved to the new Disability Inclusion funding and support model must submit an enrolment verification request to the Department’s Specialist School Enrolment Verification Service.
The Specialist School Enrolment Verification Service draws on expert advice to determine whether prospective enrolments meet the evidence requirements for specialist school disability enrolment criteria that align with the PSD categories. This replaces the verification service that previously occurred as part of the broader assessment process for funding under the PSD.
Specialist School Enrolment Verification Service requests must be emailed to AHA Consulting using the Department’s request form. The correct email address and request form are available at (staff login required).
Following verification, the Specialist School Enrolment Verification Service will send a verification outcome email to the submitting school and Regional Disability Coordinators. The submitting school can then make an enrolment decision depending on the verification outcome and any other criteria specified by the school’s enrolment policy. Regional disability coordinators may play a role in supporting specialist schools with enrolment processes.
Mainstream schools may also submit specialist school enrolment verification requests on behalf of enrolled students who may be considering a transfer to a specialist school.
Other enrolment considerations such as the student’s age, residence within the school's Designated Transport Area, or alignment with any other criteria than those that align with PSD disability categories (for example, IQ requirements for enrolment in single-mode intellectual disability schools) are outside the scope of the Specialist School Enrolment Verification Service. These enrolment considerations will continue to be verified locally by the school and Regional Disability Coordinators.
Appealing enrolment decisions in specialist schools
Parents or carers seeking to appeal a specialist school’s enrolment decision should be advised to lodge a written appeal with the school at which the student has been unsuccessful in gaining a placement.
If this appeal is unsuccessful and parents or carers are not satisfied that their appeal has been adequately considered, they are able to escalate the appeal to the relevant regional director. For specialist schools, appeals to the regional director are considered with reference to a specialist school’s local enrolment policy and other local factors (for example, surplus enrolment capacity).
Students who do not meet a specialist school’s enrolment criteria
In exceptional circumstances, the regional director may approve (on an annual basis) a student enrolment in a specialist school if the student does not meet the school’s enrolment criteria. When making this decision, the regional director must consider the long-term best interests of the individual student, whether or not the school has accommodation to enrol the student, and any possible impact the student’s enrolment may have on the placement or education of other students in the school.
Reviewed 01 December 2021