Consultation

Consultation

Students with disability and their families have valuable knowledge and experience that can assist education staff to make good decisions. The Disability Standards for Education 2005 require education staff to consult with a student with disability – or their parent or other associate – before choosing and making reasonable adjustments.

To decide on reasonable adjustments for a student with disability, a consultation is likely to involve:

  • Education staff
  • The student with disability
  • Associates, such as parents, carers or guardians
  • Specialists or other people with relevant expertise.

Consultation may also involve an advocate where the student or their parents or carers have sought their involvement.

Although not required by law, it is useful to have an agreed summary of the decisions made at consultation about reasonable adjustments. This reminds everyone how they decided to support the student, and provides a reference point for reviewing progress at subsequent meetings.

Consultations about reasonable adjustments should cover:

  • The needs of the student and whether an adjustment is required
  • Whether the adjustment is reasonable
  • The extent to which the adjustment achieves its aim*
  • Whether it is the best adjustment.


*The aim of a reasonable adjustment will differ according to which part of the Disability Standards for Education it relates to:

  • Enrolment
  • Participation
  • Curriculum
  • Support services or
  • Harassment and victimisation.

Definition
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Consultation is a discussion held with the aim of sharing knowledge and opinions before making a decision.


Video: Working Partnerships
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Download video transcript
School staff, parents and carers all play important roles in meeting the needs of students with disability in schools. In this video, a principal and a parent of a child with disability discuss their approaches to partnerships between schools and families.

© Association for Children with a Disability. Used with permission.


Question
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Nina tells her mother she was chosen last for a sports team by the appointed captain, which embarrassed her. Her mother suspects this was because Nina has low vision and can’t catch balls very well.

Which of the Disability Standards for Education are relevant to Nina’s situation?

Nina was enrolled on the understanding that reasonable adjustments would be made. School staff should consult students with disability and their families when deciding reasonable adjustments, on an ongoing basis, to ensure they have access to education on the same basis as other students.

Nina has a right to participate in extra-curricular activities, such as sport, on the same basis as other students. The school should make adjustments to support her participation. For example, using balls with high colour contrast or requiring all players to wear wrist beepers could assist Nina to locate the ball and her team mates. Purchasing a rubber carpet runner and laying it around the game boundary could help signal to all players that they are about to step out of bounds.

Sport is part of the school curriculum which is designed with learning goals in mind. Identifying the learning goals of any educational activity helps schools and parents decide the best adjustments for students with disability. If the learning goal of a team sport is to develop teamwork and ball skills, Nina will need adjustments to assist her to develop the desired skills and achieve the learning goals.

Under the Standards for support services, Nina has a right to receive additional services or equipment to support her during sport. For example, the school may bring in a consultant to advise on adjustments that would support Nina’s participation in ball games.

Nina should not experience discrimination in sport because of her low vision, either during the game or when team members are selected. The Standards for harassment and victimisation require education providers to take action to prevent students with disability experiencing humiliation and distress. For example, students can be allocated to sports teams in ways that respect their feelings, such as matching numbers or birthdays or pulling names out of a hat.


Follow Nina’s story in the next ‘Consultation’ subtopic.


Spotlight
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Spotlight: Consultation

Students with disability or their parents or carers have the right to be consulted about reasonable adjustments.

A student with disability


I can expect:

  • The school will ask about my needs.
  • The education staff will listen respectfully when I explain how the school can meet my needs.
  • I will know how the education staff will teach me and keep me informed.

I can contribute by:

  • Talking to the school about my needs
  • Telling the school how the adjustment is working for me.

A student without disability


I can expect:

  • The school will talk with students with disability or their families about how to meet their needs.
  • The school will listen to me if changes made for students with disability affect me.

I can contribute by:

  • Telling the school if these adjustments make it harder for me to learn.

A parent, carer or other associate
of a student with disability


I can expect:

  • The education staff will ask about my child's needs at school.
  • The school will consider my suggestions about adjustments.
  • I will have adjustments explained to me so that I can offer my opinion about them.

I can contribute by:

  • Discussing my child’s needs fully and openly with the school
  • Discussing my child’s progress with the school
  • Sharing information about my child with the school on a regular basis.

A parent, carer or other associate
of a student without disability


I can expect:

  • The school will talk with parents and carers of students with disability about how to meet their needs.
  • The school will consider the needs of my child when discussing the needs of students with disability.

I can contribute by:

  • Telling the school if I believe that changes made for students with disability affect my child.

A parent, carer or other associate with disability


I can expect:

  • The school will consider my needs and support my involvement in my child’s education on the same basis as other parents.

I can contribute by:

  • Informing the school of my disability and discussing my needs with the school.


Summary
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Under the Disability Standards for Education, students with disability and their families have the right to be consulted about reasonable adjustments to enable them to participate in education on the same basis as students without disability.