Child at deskThere is a major need for the My School website to be amended to accommodate students with disability. Speech Pathology Australia is calling on the Federal Government to include a national disability measure so parents of children with disability can identify schools best suited for their children’s needs. The proposed plan would identify the resourcing and skills individual schools have to assist students with disabilities and measure a schools ability to handle ‘disability’ in its education program.The Association’s proposal follows the release of the Australian Senate Report on ‘Access to real learning: the impact of policy, funding and culture on students with disability.’

National president of Speech Pathology Australia, Gaenor Dixon, said that speech pathologists know from first-hand experience that “parents of kids with disabilities continue to get a raw deal when it comes to education.” It is estimated that one in five children start school with a significant speech, language or communication problem that impacts on their learning.

While welcoming the Senate Report, Dixon said she did not want to see it descend into a debate about funding. “Part of that strategy needs to include a plan to amend the current My School website as such a measure would allow parents of children with disability to compare schools and see what speech pathology and other specialist services are on offer to support their children in securing access to full education.”  Dixon said the Association recognises government funding is only one part of the equation for improving education outcomes for students with disabilities and principals and teachers need help in supporting these children. “The Senate Report made it clear that they are the ‘gatekeepers’ to the education system for children with disability.”

According to Dixon, the amendment would make the whole education system accountable for how they deal with disabilities. “It would, as the report states, recognise all students with disability as learners and drive the cultural change required to achieve this, particularly at a school leadership level.”