Key considerations

Principals must consider these factors when deciding to grant or refuse each therapy request. Each request must be evaluated on its individual merits. Schools must not use these considerations as a blanket rule to develop a school policy that allows or disallows all requests for therapy in schools. Refer to Step 2 – make a decision for questions designed to guide deliberations.

Individual circumstances of student

The overall benefit to the student is a key consideration. Any inherent convenience to therapists or parents/carers in having therapy delivered during school hours must be secondary to the student’s best interest.

In making a decision, principals must consider all relevant factors, including the particular family and social circumstances of the student, and the flexibility of the student’s learning program. For example, a student who fatigues because of their disability may benefit from receiving therapy during school hours, rather than after hours.

A student’s family circumstances may also prevent the therapy being delivered outside of school hours or in another location. This was the case in the following example from the Barwon area.

A student’s domestic situation meant that it was unsafe for the therapist to deliver therapy in the student’s home and the student did not have adequate means to get to an external location to receive the therapy. The school had physical space available and accepted the therapy request under the unique circumstances.

Student access to the curriculum

The principles underlying Victorian government school education include universal access to education and free instruction in the learning areas in Schedule 1 of the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 (Vic). In deciding whether it is reasonable for a student to access NDIS funded supports during school hours, principals must consider what impact this would have on the student’s access to the curriculum, given the primary purpose of schooling is to provide educational programs to students during school hours.

Equally, a student’s access to the curriculum may be improved by allowing therapy to occur during school hours. The following is a case example from the Barwon area.

A student was living in a remote area and the commute to and from therapy was extensive. This meant the student was missing school due to the long commute and was arriving at school tired. The principal allowed the therapy to be delivered at school so the student could access more of the curriculum.

Principals must also consider the impact that an additional adult in the school learning environment may have on staff and access to the curriculum for other students. For example, if the requested therapy will occur in the classroom, this may disrupt the class or the classroom teacher’s ability to deliver the lesson to the relevant student and other students.

Child Safe Standards

The Child Safe Standards are minimum standards that apply to organisations (including schools) that provide services for children to help protect them from abuse.

The Child Safe Standards require schools to have strategies, policies and procedures in place to ensure the school is a child-safe organisation. This includes having appropriate practices in place to reduce the risk of child abuse and having strategies to identify and reduce or remove risks of child abuse.

Principals must consider any child safety risks and how those risks can be addressed when considering whether to agree to a request for an NDIS funded therapist to provide therapy on school grounds.

If the principal agrees to a request for an NDIS funded therapist to provide therapy at school, the school needs to:

  • be alert to adverse behavioural or other changes in the student that might be a symptom of abuse, or risk of abuse, whether generally or in connection with the therapy – schools must follow the Four Critical ActionsExternal Link where there is an incident, disclosure or suspicion of child abuse
  • inform the parents/carers about what they should do if they have concerns about their child’s welfare or safety
  • ensure the student understands the steps to inform a trusted adult if they feel unsafe
  • inform the therapist about the school’s policies and commitments regarding Child Safe Standards (including visitor policy, code of conduct, supervision arrangements and internal reporting arrangements)
  • follow the Visitors in Schools policy when interacting with the NDIS funded therapist.

Refer to Child Safe Standards for more information.

Duty of care

Principals, as delegates of the Minister for Education, have the right to permit and refuse entry of any person to Victorian government school premises. As an NDIS funded therapist is not a department or school council employee or contractor, and is not under the direction and control of the principal, principals must carefully consider whether the school can fulfil its duty of care obligations to the student.

Duty of care requires principals and teachers to take all reasonable steps to reduce the risk of any reasonably foreseeable harm to students. This includes:

  • providing safe and suitable premises to students
  • providing adequate supervision of students, for example through line of sight to the therapy session or an additional staff member present to supervise the therapy
  • ensuring the therapist holds a satisfactory Working with Children Check.

The responsibility for duty of care remains with principals and teachers. This duty of care cannot be delegated to an external NDIS funded therapist.
If duty of care requirements are not met, there may be a legal risk to both the school and the department.

Refer to Duty of Care for more information.

Requests for therapy on school grounds outside of school hours

Outside of school hours, the ability of principals and teachers to supervise students (and therefore discharge their duty of care) is very limited. There is no requirement for the school to appoint staff to supervise NDIS funded therapy that is proposed to occur outside of school hours on school grounds.

In relation to requests for therapy outside of school hours, it is recommended that the school inform parents/carers in writing that:

  • the therapy is not organised or managed by the school or the school council and is not a school activity
  • school staff and the school council are not responsible for the supervision of students attending the therapy outside school supervision hours.

Principals maintain the right to decline a request for private therapy sessions to occur outside of school hours, particularly if there are concerns about the level of supervision that can be provided at these times.

In some circumstances, a principal may approve such a request, if an adult family member or carer agrees to be present at these sessions.

The NDIS funded therapist and the school council must enter into a Licence agreement (DOCX)External Link (staff login required) or Virtual agreement (DOCX)External Link (staff login required) and the relevant information sharing deed prior to the commencement of NDIS funded therapy. The licence/virtual agreement makes it clear that schools are not responsible for the supervision of students outside of school hours.

Reportable Conduct Scheme

Principals are required to bring all allegations of 'reportable conduct' (that is, allegations of child abuse and other child-related misconduct) by employees, contractors, volunteers, allied health staff and school council employees to the attention of the department's Conduct and Integrity Branch. The branch will report these allegations to the Commission for Children and Young People.

The Reportable Conduct Scheme applies to NDIS funded therapists. Principals must be aware of their reporting requirements under this scheme if they permit an NDIS funded therapist to enter onto school premises to deliver therapy to students.

Refer to Reportable Conduct for more information.

Practical and administrative capacity

Schools need to ensure they have the practical capacity to accommodate NDIS funded therapists providing therapy, in person or virtually, to students on school grounds. This includes having the physical space available to accommodate the therapy and ensuring the school is equipped to manage the increased administration that allowing therapy might entail. This is a key consideration for specialist schools with high numbers of NDIS participants.

Anti-discrimination obligations

The NDIS may fund a range of specialised supports for school-aged children with a disability. However, the NDIS does not replace or duplicate the responsibilities of the department.

In accordance with relevant anti-discrimination laws, schools remain responsible for providing reasonable adjustments to ensure that students with a disability can access their education on the same basis as their peers without a disability.

Schools are legally obliged to provide these adjustments, regardless of whether a student is also receiving NDIS support or other funding (for example, Program for Students with DisabilityExternal Link or Disability Inclusion).

Reasonable adjustments may include (but are not limited to):

  • modifying programs, adapting curriculum delivery and assessment strategies
  • providing ongoing consultancy support or professional learning and training for staff
  • developing and implementing individual education plans, health support planning and behaviour support plans
  • providing educational software, tablets, or other assistive technology
  • modifying schools and classrooms to enable physical access to premises
  • providing access to the regional Health Wellbeing and Inclusion Workforces.

The NDIS does not fund therapy for the purpose of enabling a student to access their education. A school’s legal obligation under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth)External Link is to ensure students with a disability can access their education on the same basis as their peers without a disability. This may include making reasonable adjustments like those listed above.

There is no legal obligation on principals to approve a request for NDIS funded therapy. This is because NDIS funded therapy is generally not required to enable the student to access their education.

For questions regarding a school’s anti-discrimination obligations when deciding to grant or refuse a request for NDIS therapy, please contact Legal Division at

Charter of Human Rights

The Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic)External Link (Charter) requires public authorities to act compatibly with the Charter and give proper consideration to relevant human rights in making decisions. This obligation applies to decision makers involved in assessing requests for NDIS funded therapy in schools.

When assessing a therapy request, principals must consider the possible impact of the decision on the student’s human rights. Refer to Equal Opportunity and Human Rights – Students for more information.

For questions regarding the impact of the Charter on any decision to refuse a request for NDIS therapy, please contact Legal Division at

School council support

School council support is required for the licence agreement and virtual agreement to use school premises, which must be signed before the NDIS funded therapy can commence at school. The licence agreement and virtual agreement are explained in more detail in Step 3 – Practical arrangements. A template licence agreement and virtual agreement are available on the Resources tab.

Refer to: Community Use of Schools – Hiring and Licensing and Community Joint Use Agreements for more information.

Chapter in the NDIS guidelines on considerations for principals when deciding to grant or refuse therapy requests, including legislative obligations, school capacity and specific student circumstances

Reviewed 06 March 2024

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