Group of teenage males discussing during class.

A new teaching resource developed to improve literacy and numeracy lessons for students with disability and complex needs has won a NSW Premier’s Award.

The innovative Assessment for Complex Learners (AfCL) project is a world-first set of integrated, online assessment tools intended to break down the learning barriers for students and assist teachers understand the skills of students with complex learning needs.

Improving foundational skills in literacy and numeracy is the key aim of the new tools and allows teachers to understand the full spectrum of a student’s learning, regardless of their disability.

Teachers will be able to understand not only what those students can do now, but how to help them progress in their learning, according to education secretary, Murat Dizdar.  “These tools make students and what they can do visible,” he said.

The new resources enable teachers to plan an effective and targeted learning program for a student, while also measuring progress, providing parents and therapists with a clear picture of how that student is developing.

The project was co-designed and trialled by 387 public schools across NSW involving approximately 2900 students, with a focus on two assessment tools: The Passport for Learning provides holistic assessment for students with moderate to severe intellectual disability, and The Literacy and Numeracy Precursors describes the skills students may need to establish strong literacy and numeracy.

Teachers, school leaders and school support officers have praised the AfCL tool as useful and relevant for students particularly in areas such as planning and reporting, and also supported better understanding of a students’ abilities across a school and between schools.

The new tools will be available to all NSW public schools in 2024. Every student in the NSW public school system can now be seen on a single literacy and numeracy continuum, a first for NSW, Australia and globally.

Another award winner was Service NSW, Department of Customer Service. To assist customers living with a range of hidden disabilities, including autism and hearing or vision sensitivities, Service NSW launched Quiet Hour, reducing noise, lighting and other distractions, where possible, allowing customers to complete transactions in a less heightened sensory environment.