What funding is available at WA schools to support students with disability?

What funding is available at WA schools to support students with disability?

There are two types of supplementary funding provided to support students with disability: the Individual Disability Allocation (IDA) and the Educational Adjustment Allocation (EAA).
Let’s clear up some of the confusion about funding to support students with disability in public schools in Western Australia.
 
There are two types of supplementary funding provided: the Individual Disability Allocation (IDA) and the Educational Adjustment Allocation (EAA). 
 
Let’s start with the IDA …

Individual Disability Allocation

The Individual Disability Allocation (IDA) is provided to schools to support students who meet specific eligibility criteria and require high levels of adjustment.
 
Funding is differentiated depending on the needs of the student within their learning environment.
 
Schools can apply for IDAs to support teaching and learning adjustments for students who meet eligibility criteria in one of eight disability categories:
 
1. Autism
2. Deaf and hard of hearing
3. Global developmental delay
4. Intellectual disability
5. Physical disability
6. Severe medical health condition
7. Severe mental health disorder
8. Vision impairment
 
Explicit criteria are applied and evidence of eligibility against each criterion is required from relevant medical practitioners or professionals.

Are we eligible?

School staff submit the application on the family’s behalf – it is not automatic and it can take a while for the assessment.  The application is assessed by the Department to make sure it meets the specific eligibility criteria.
 
These criteria were previously published on the Department of Education website but are now not available publicly with the direction from the Department to speak with the school.
 
In my experience schools can be just as baffled by what will and won’t be supported by the Department.
 
Schools are then allocated a funding level that corresponds to the level of support and the teaching and learning adjustments required by the student.

How much funding is available?

It is very rare for schools to share the level of $ support provided through the IDA for a child.
 
I am not sure for the reasons behind this, as I feel like it could be helpful in managing expectations of what can or cannot be reasonably funded.
 
You may hear schools talk about Level 1 or Level 2 funding. This does not correspond to the levels of an autism diagnosis eg. Level 1, 2 or 3.  It is based on the type and level of needs that each child requires and goes up to level 7.
 
If you do some googling of hansard and the like you should be able to find more information on what each level equates to.  
 
Many of you have probably had shared examples from several years ago but if you find anything more current feel free to share.
This is an example of the funding provided in 2015 for students under the Individual Disability Allocation.
This is an example of how the level of disability is determined for those with eligible disabilities under the Department of Education's Individual Disability Allocation.

Who decides what the funding can be used for?

Principals and school staff determine the specific distribution of these resources to meet the needs of individual students, including implementing teaching and learning adjustments and creating responsive staffing profiles and learning support teams that best meet the needs of their students and school context.
 
Funding is not just for Education Assistant time.
 
Adjustments may include:
  • access to appropriate technology or specialised equipment,
  • modifying the curriculum,
  • alternative methods of assessment,
  • access to an education assistant or
  • accessibility enhancements to the school buildings or grounds.
 
Schools can apply to SSEND for capacity building for teachers or required assistive technology equipment.
The Student Centred Funding Model includes details of how WA Public Schools are funded to support students with disability.

Educational Adjustment Allocation

The Educational Adjustment Allocation (EAA) is described by Minister for Education Tony Buti as 
 
“a flexible allocation provided to mainstream schools to support them in implementing programs and learning supports for students with additional learning needs, such as dyspraxia, asthma, foetal alcohol spectrum disorder, dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder,” he writes in a letter to a concerned parent who had asked how the EAA was allocated.
 
“Schools do not need to apply for this funding, and it is automatically provided annually to schools based on their enrolments at the February student census and the proportion of their students in the bottom 10% of the NAPLAN reading assessment, as a proxy for students with educational disadvantage.
 
“From 2023, there are changes to the EAA to address the increasing prevalence and learning needs of students presenting with behavioural and mental health issues.
 
“The existing EAA has been extended to support an additional 5% of students at the bottom of the NAPLAN reading assessment.
 
“Therefore, all students in the bottom 15% of the NAPLAN reading assessment will receive an EAA.”

The problems with using a proxy to determine funding to support students with disability

🙋‍♀️ Ummmm, so what of the families that withdraw their children from sitting NAPLAN because they are concerned about the impact of this assessment on them because they *HAVE* learning differences?
 
🙋‍♀️ And what about those students with a condition like Developmental Coordination Disorder who could be excellent readers but struggle in other areas?
 
As one Mum wrote on Facebook:
 
“What about the kids who test OK?  They are bright enough that they don’t get noticed as having a difficulty, but teachers continually comment on them “not living up to their potential”, that there “is a mismatch between their capability and out put or achievement”.  
 
“How are these kids being captured, because these kids are really getting lost in the system, and it’s not until late primary school/high school that anything is noticed.  
 
“Then, because they don’t fall into the bottomn of the kids, they don’t qualify for services at school.  They still have learning disabilities, they still need explicit teaching and still are being disadvantaged.  Where and how does the education system account for these kids?”
 
🤷‍♀️ Would it not make more sense to provide funding for students with disability, TO students *with* disability, so that adjustments can be made so they can access the curriculum?
 
While I appreciate that they’re trying to reduce the barriers to a fair go for students whose parents can’t afford to get a diagnosis (which is getting more and more out of reach) – I don’t think this is a natural proxy for disability.
 
❌Parents not should have to fund six months of private intervention before they can have an assessment for and diagnosis of a Specific Learning Disorder.
 
❌ Parents should not have to pay up to $100 per week for SLD tutoring that should be provided in school as part of a Response to Intervention or Multi-Tiered System of Supports framework.
 
❌ Parents should not have to pay thousands of dollars for assessments that directly impact their child’s ability to learn.
 
Despite Perth having one of the world’s leading researchers on Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), the Minister has still used the word “dyspraxia” to describe this condition.
 
Regardless of funding, the Department of Education has stated that:
 
“the school is obligated to plan, to implement, to consult with parents to provided access to specialist services where they align with educational costs.  It is an obligation irrespective of whether you have diagnoses.  So long as you are at an educational risk”.
 
What do you folks think? Does this pass the common sense / pub test for you and your kiddos? 
 
It certainly has failed us.
 
Sources
Department of Education (2023) Inquiry into support for autistic children and young people in schools, Submission to the Education and Health Standing Committee http://tinyurl.com/3w7xauem
 
Department of Education (2023, email) Disability and Inclusion 
 
Parliamentary inquiry into child development services in Western Australia (2023) (2023) http://tinyurl.com/cjb9kvyx
 
Department of Education (DOE), Children with special educational needs, DOE,  accessed 29 February 2024 https://www.education.wa.edu.au/children-with-special-educational-needs
 
Department of Education (DOE), Student Centred Funding Model, accessed 26 February 2024
 
Department of Education (DOE), (2014) Student-centred funding and one line budgets, accessed 29 Feburary 2024 http://tinyurl.com/2a2j56u9
 
Department of Education (2018) Evaluation of the student-centred funding model, accessed 29 February 2024 http://tinyurl.com/bddsvnhc
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