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A chronology of special education in Queensland

1875-1900 | 1900-1925 | 1925-1950 | 1950-1975 | 1975-2000 | 2000-2009



  • Division of Special Education established and PM Briody appointed as Director.


  • The Advisory Council for Special Education was appointed to advise the Minister in matters relating to special education, with Professor Betty Watts as first Chair and Geoffrey Swan as first Secretary.


  • Report of review of special education Future of Special Education in Queensland 1978 - 1982 presented.
  • Co-ordinator of Education for the Intellectually Handicapped was appointed.
  • Second position of Inspector of Schools, Special Education, created and TGA Ames appointed.


  • Early special education trialled.


  • Special Education Cooperative Workshop established as a state-wide service provider.

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  • Programs utilising principles of conductive education were trialled at Xavier Special School.
  • Early Educational Intervention Handbook of Issues and Practices released.


  • The Special Education Resource Centres were formed as state-wide services, as part of the Division of Special Education.
  • Early special education officially commenced.


  • Endeavour Foundation schools transferred to Department of Education.
  • Policy Statement 15 Integration: Mainstreaming of Students with Special Needs introduced.


  • The Special Education Resource and Development Centres were formed as a consequence of the reorganisation of the Division of Special Education.
  • Individual education plans for students with disabilities were introduced as part of the new policy Policy Statement 16: Policy and Practice for Special Education Services.
  • The report National Overview of Educational Services for Isolated Severely Handicapped Children resulted from a Project of National Significance undertaken as a joint project of the Commonwealth Department of Employment Education and Training and the Department of Education Division of Special Services.
  • The Queensland School for the Deaf closes, as a consequence of decentralisation of services to students with hearing impairments during the 1980's. Programs for students with vision impairment were also decentralised during this period.

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  • The report Focus on Schools recommended that a strategy for managing the integration policy in Queensland schools be developed as a matter of urgency, and that a state-wide support centre for students with low incidence disabilities be established. A restructure of the Department of Education followed.
  • Occupational therapists and physiotherapists were employed by the Department of Education to work in schools with students with disabilities. (These services were transferred from the Department of Families).
  • Policy Statement - Management of Support Teaching: Learning Difficulties (P-7) was introduced.


  • The Low Incidence Support Centre was established, and comprised the following sections: Intellectual Impairment Services, Physical Impairment Services, Vision Impairment Services; Hearing Impairment Services; Therapy Services; Learning Difficulties Services; Guidance and Counselling Services; Library and Information Services.
  • Additional nurses were employed to support students with high medical support needs.
  • The Student Disability Unit and position of Assistant Director, Social Justice, were established within the Studies Directorate.
  • A Review of Secondary Provisions for Deaf/Hearing Impaired Students was undertaken for the Studies Directorate.
  • A Review of Programs for Young Children with Severe Disabilities took place.
  • A review of early special education in Queensland was undertaken, resulting in the report: Meeting the needs.


  • Ascertainment Guidelines for Students with Disabilities and Learning Difficulties were introduced, and applied to students with physical impairment, hearing impairment, vision impairment, intellectual impairment and/or severe multiple impairment, or learning difficulties.
  • Isolated Students' Programs (previously Isolated Children's Special Education Unit) was transferred to the Low Incidence Support Centre.
  • The document The Provision of Early Intervention Services and Early Special Education Services was prepared jointly by the Department of Education and the Department of Family Services and Aboriginal and Islander Affairs, and these guidelines were approved by Cabinet.
  • Educational Provision for Students with Disabilities: Policy Statement and Management Plan was introduced.

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  • The policy document Special Consideration: Exemption and Special Arrangements - Senior Secondary Assessment was developed by the Board of Senior Secondary School Studies.
  • Student Performance Standards in Mathematics for Students with Low Incidence Disabilities were developed.


  • Transport guidelines were developed for students with disabilities.
  • The policy Establishing Educational Service Models based on Conductive Education Principles was approved.
  • The Key Competencies in Special Schools project was undertaken.


  • Forging Partnerships: a Review of Early Special Education was developed, and the guidelines were approved by Cabinet.
  • State Studies Management Forum approved the addition of two new categories for ascertainment: speech-language impairment, and autistic spectrum disorder.
  • The two documents Guidelines for Speech-Language Therapy in Schools and Guidelines on the Role and Scope of Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy Services were developed.

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  • The Ascertainment Guidelines for Students with Disabilities were revised to incorporate the new categories of speech-language impairment, and autistic spectrum disorder.
  • Ascertainment was used as the basis for resourcing.
  • The document Educational Provision for Students with Learning Difficulties and Learning Disabilities was developed.


  • The Low Incidence Support Centre became the Low Incidence Unit, as a result of a departmental restructure.
  • The Action Plan: Educational Provision for Students with Disabilities 1998 - 2002 was developed.
  • The document Individual Education Plans for Students with Disabilities was published, and IEPs became mandatory for students whose special education support needs had been ascertained at Level 6.
  • The set of resource booklets Teacher Aides: Working with Students with Disabilities was developed.
  • The resource package Teaching Students with Disabilities was developed in conjunction with Griffith University to assist students in regular schools.


  • Appraisement was trialled for students with learning difficulties or learning disabilities in years 5, 6, and 7.
  • The Low Incidence Unit was engaged to develop and write content for a course on physical impairment, as an open learning module in CD ROM format, to link with the Griffith University Graduate Certificate in Special Education/Master of Education.

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Last reviewed
20 February 2013
Last updated
20 February 2013