School operations

Nationally Consistent Collection of Data on School Students with Disability

Student Eligibility for Inclusion in the NCCD

Which students should be included in the NCCD?

For a student to be included in the NCCD, the student must meet all of the following 3 criteria:

  • the student has a disability that meets the broad definition of disability in the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth)External Link
  • the functional impact of the student’s disability results in the school actively addressing or supporting the student’s specific individual education needs arising from their disability within quality differentiated teaching practice and/or monitoring the student or providing a ‘supplementary’ or higher level of adjustment or support
  • there is evidence at the school that the student has been provided with adjustment/s for a minimum period of 10 weeks of school education (excluding school holiday periods) in the 12 months preceding the NCCD census day.

Does the student have a disability?

Definition of disability

The NCCD categories of disability infographicExternal Link shows how the definition applies for NCCD disability categories. The Disability Discrimination Act defines disability broadly as outlined below:

  • total or partial loss of the person's bodily or mental functions or
  • total or partial loss of a part of the body or
  • the presence in the body of organisms causing disease or illness or
  • the presence in the body of organisms capable of causing disease or illness or
  • the malfunction, malformation or disfigurement of a part of the person's body or
  • a disorder or malfunction that results in the person learning differently from a person without the disorder or malfunction or
  • a disorder, illness or disease that affects a person's thought processes, perception of reality, emotions or judgement or that results in disturbed behaviour;

and includes a disability that:

  • presently exists or
  • previously existed but no longer exists or
  • may exist in the future (including because of a genetic predisposition to that disability) or
  • is imputed to a person (see below).

To avoid doubt, a disability that is otherwise covered by this definition includes behaviour that is a symptom or manifestation of the disability.

Undiagnosed (imputed) disability

The NCCD identifies all students with disability who are receiving adjustments to educational programs, even if there is no formal diagnosis of disability. A proportion of students included in the NCCD have formal diagnoses of disability supported by medical or allied health professionals’ diagnostic reports. However, there are cases where a student’s disability has not been formally diagnosed and a school team ‘imputes’ disability for the purposes of the NCCD.

There are also some circumstances where a school will make an adjustment(s) to support a student without disability. Based on these circumstances alone, a student would not be included in the NCCD, despite the school making adjustment(s) to support their learning. The table below contains some examples of when schools can impute a disability and when they cannot impute a disability.

When to impute

  • The school has evidence that the student requires educational adjustment(s) arising from disability, but a formal diagnostic process has not been undertaken
  • There is new presentation of disability that is only beginning to have a functional impact on learning, for example, a degenerative condition or social/emotional challenges that are not attributable to other factors (see below ‘When not to Impute’)
  • The student is experiencing persistent and ongoing learning difficulties, and the school is not yet sure if this is due to an underlying specific learning disorder
  • Lack of progress cannot be attributed to other factors, for example, absenteeism, ad hoc, as opposed to targeted, intervention
  • The student has been unwell for an extended period, but medical specialists have not yet been able to determine the cause
  • Limited opportunities to access qualified specialists have meant that there has been no diagnosis
  • The student’s parents, guardians or carers are unable to, or have chosen not to, seek a diagnosis for the child

When not to impute

  • English as an additional language or dialect (EAL/D)
  • Refugee background
  • Absenteeism or school refusal not related to disability
  • Environmental impacts (for example, family disruption, natural disasters)
  • Bullying
  • Neglect
  • Being a carer
  • Out-of-home care or transience
  • Temporary incapacity for less than 10 weeks (for example broken limb) or remediation after a period of illness
  • Ineffective instruction
  • Challenging behaviours not related to disability
  • Socio-economic
  • Cultural disadvantage

In situations where these circumstances result in imputed disability, the school’s evidence must clearly relate to the imputed disability, not the circumstance.

What is an adjustment?

Adjustment(s) for students must be made to meet ongoing, long-term specific needs directly related to their disability that has a functional impact on their schooling. Some examples of areas in which students may require adjustments include:

  • teaching and learning: the student may require changes in curriculum and teaching practices to achieve the learning outcomes described in syllabus documents
  • communication: the student’s ability to receive and understand information being conveyed by others and the student’s ability to convey a message to others
  • participation: the student’s ability to engage in successful interactions and participate effectively in the full school program and the management strategies required to ensure the student’s safety
  • personal care and safety: the student may require essential hygiene, eating, drinking and dietary routines which require individual management, and the procedures specified in an individual health care plan which require specialised support
  • movement: the student’s level of functional independence in mobility and positioning and the student’s ability to use the hand motor skills required to participate in learning activities.

The Disability Standards for Education 2005 (Cth)External Link require that the student or their parents/associates are consulted prior to an adjustment being made, however parental consent is not required for students to be included in the NCCD.

Levels of adjustment

The NCCD collects data on the level of adjustment made to usual classroom practice to enable students with disability to access education. There are 4 levels of adjustment recorded in the NCCD (follow the links below for a more in-depth explanation of each adjustment level):

  1. support provided within quality differentiated teaching practiceExternal Link
  2. supplementary adjustmentsExternal Link
  3. substantial adjustmentsExternal Link
  4. extensive adjustmentsExternal Link .

The level of adjustment is determined by teacher judgement, supported by evidenceExternal Link of these adjustments in the classroom, such as Disability Inclusion Profiles, Individual Education Plans, Student Support Group minutes, work programs, and similar documents. For additional guidance, the levels of adjustment viewerExternal Link can be used to compare two levels of adjustment concurrently.

Categories of disability

The NCCD also collects data on the broad category of disability for which an adjustment is required. These categories are listed below, with detailed information in this categories of disability infographic (PDF)External Link :

  • physical
  • cognitive
  • sensory
  • social/emotional.

If adjustments are made for multiple disabilities, teachers and school teams should select the disability category that has the greatest impact on the student’s education and is the main driver of adjustments to support the student at school.

Evidence requirements

To determine whether a student is eligible to be included, consider whether:

  • there is evidence at the school that the student is being provided with an educational adjustment to meet ongoing, long-term specific needs associated with disability
  • decisions have been made in consultation with the student and/or their parents, guardians or carers.

For Victorian government schools, this evidence could include:

  • Disability Inclusion Profiles
  • Individual Education Plans
  • Student Support Group minutes
  • work programs
  • any other school documents showing adjustments to the curriculum or environment to support a student with disability.

The definition of ‘long-term’ for this purpose is a minimum period of 10 weeks of school education (excluding school holiday periods) in the 12 months preceding the NCCD.

The adjustments do not need to take place each and every day over the 10 weeks. The 10-week period of adjustment(s) does not need to be consecutive – it can be cumulative and split across school terms in the 12 months preceding census day.

If a student is participating in a school-based activity during the school holidays (for example, camp) where the school is providing adjustments, then this time can be included in the 10 weeks.

Where a student receives adjustments for any amount of time within a school week, that constitutes a ‘week’ for the purposes of the 10-week rule. The amount of time an adjustment(s) is provided to the student may vary from infrequent or occasional (for example, for a specific class or activity) through to all day every day of the week.

NCCD and mental health

Students receiving educational adjustments at school due to a mental health condition may be eligible for inclusion in the NCCD. Schools must apply the NCCD criteria to determine a student’s eligibility.

Disability and mental health

Schools must be satisfied that the mental health condition driving the need for the adjustment meets the definition of disability under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth)External Link .

Case studiesExternal Link are available on the NCCD portal that provide examples of where students receiving adjustments due to mental health challenges are eligible for inclusion in the NCCD, in the Social/Emotional disability category.


Students’ experience of trauma may have wide ranging impacts and consequences that may or may not lead to a disability. Students affected by trauma may have diverse and complex needs. The appropriate response(s) to trauma that do not lead to a disability can differ from adjustment(s) received by a student with disability.

Students affected by trauma must only be included in the NCCD if they have a disability as defined in the Disability Discrimination Act and meet the other criteria for inclusion.

Undiagnosed (imputed) disability and Mental Health conditions

Under the national NCCD GuidelinesExternal Link , a diagnosis is not required to include a student in the NCCD.

Mental health conditions that are often diagnosable include depression and anxiety. In the absence of a diagnosis, schools can impute a disability where the school has reasonable grounds to make such a judgement and documented evidence to support the decision. The school must have consulted with the student’s parents/guardians and involved them in identifying reasonable adjustments to address the identified concerns.

Detailed guidance for imputing disability for the NCCD is available on the NCCD PortalExternal Link .

Adjustments and mental health

The presence of a mental health condition that meets the NCCD definition of disability is not in and of itself cause for including a student in the NCCD. The school must be actively providing adjustments to support the student with the mental health condition for a minimum period of 10-weeks and collecting appropriate records, such as:

  • diagnosis (when available)
  • records of conversations or other communications with parents and/or allied health professionals
  • other school records, for example, Individual Education Plans, Student Support Group minutes, teacher work programs and notes, Behaviour Support Plans.

Moderation to ensure accurate decision-making

It is best practice for school leadership teams to lead professional discussions with teachers through moderation meetings to ensure school teams are applying consistent considerations and approaches when deciding whether to include a student in the NCCD, including due to a mental health condition. Teachers must use the evidence collected throughout the year to make decisions that are consistent, reliable, and defensible.

Includes information on which students should be included in the NCCD

Reviewed 29 April 2024

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