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Queensland state special schools

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Choosing the right school for your child is an important decision.

You can enrol your child in your closest local state school where they can learn with other children of a similar age from your local community. Local state schools provide supports to help children with disability to learn and achieve.

If your child has an intellectual disability that either on its own or in combination with other disabilities severely impacts on their ability to access and participate in education, you can enrol in your local school or apply for enrolment in a state special school.

To be eligible for enrolment at a Queensland state special school your child will need to meet set criteria as outlined in the special school eligibility ("person with a disability" criteria) policy (DOCX, 306KB). The special school must also be able to cater for your child's needs.

What do state special schools do?

State special schools provide highly individualised programs delivered by a multidisciplinary team of classroom teachers and support staff.

An individualised program, is a program designed to meet the unique needs of individual students. All state schools provide individualised programs, however special schools provide a range of additional supports needed for children with intellectual disability that either on its own or in combination with other disabilities severely impacts their ability to access and participate in education.

Should I enrol my child in a state special school?

Parents/carers may choose to apply for their child to be enrolled in their local state primary or secondary school or a state special school.

Our state schools make reasonable adjustments to enable students with disability to access and participate in education on the same basis as other children or young people.

The inclusive education policy commits the department to ensure that children and young people across Queensland, of all abilities can:

  • attend their local state school or education centre and be welcomed
  • access and participate in high-quality education and fully engage in the curriculum alongside their similar-aged peers
  • learn in a safe and supportive environment, free from bullying, discrimination or harassment
  • achieve academically and socially with reasonable adjustments and supports tailored to meet their learning needs.

Parents can choose to apply for their child to be enrolled in their local state primary or secondary school or a state special school.

Who can be enrolled in a state special school?

Not every child with disability is eligible to be enrolled in a state special school. There are two requirements for enrolment in a state special school:

  1. The child or young person meets the criteria for a "person with a disability" as set out in the special school eligibility (“person with a disability” criteria) policy and
  2. The special school is able to cater for the child or young person's educational needs.

The criteria for deciding if a child or young person is eligible to be enrolled in a state special school are outlined in the special school eligibility ("person with a disability" criteria) policy. To be eligible the child or young person must meet all four of the following criteria, that:

  • they have a disability as defined by the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cwlth)
  • they have a severe disability, which includes an intellectual disability
  • they are unlikely to attain the levels of development of which they are capable unless they receive special education
  • their educational program is best delivered in a special school taking into account the appropriateness of this placement for them.

Before deciding if you would like to enrol your child in a state special school, you may wish to talk to your local school or your closest departmental regional office regarding your child's needs and their eligibility for enrolment in a state special school.

You can also ask to visit your preferred school and talk to the school principal about your child's needs.

How do I enrol my child in a state special school?

You can apply to enrol your child in a state special school by providing a parent application for referral of enrolment to a state special school form (DOCX, 41KB) to the principal of your preferred special school. If your child is attending an early childhood development program you may wish to speak to them about getting help to complete the form.

The school and/or regional staff will consider your application and gather more information, if needed. The principal of the special school will then refer your application to another departmental officer to make a decision about whether you child will be enrolled at the special school.

Before deciding if you would like to enrol your child in a state special school, you may wish to talk to your local school or your closest regional office regarding your child’s needs and their eligibility for enrolment in a state special school.

You can also ask to visit your preferred school and talk to the principal about your child’s needs.

When can I apply to enrol my child in a state special school?

You can apply at any time during the year.

If you are making an application during the school holidays, especially over the longer holiday periods, please contact your departmental regional office to ensure that your application is processed as quickly as possible.

How long will it take for a decision to be made?

We aim to ensure that decisions are made as soon as possible about applications for children and young people not enrolled in any school.

Making sure the right decision is made takes time.

Sometimes more information is needed and it may take longer to finalise the application. We will stay in touch with you to let you know our progress.

Where can I get more information?

The following documents provide further information regarding Queensland state special schools including eligibility and enrolment processes:

You can contact your local school principal if your child is enrolled in a state school or registered at an early childhood development program.

If your child is not enrolled in a school, or you would like to discuss your child's educational needs further, you can also contact your closest regional office, or your preferred special school.

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Last updated 12 July 2019