Special provisions to level the playing field
South Australian schools will become the first in the nation to gain greater autonomy in how they manage the use of special provisions to help level the education playing field for final-year students with a disability.
Students sitting the Year 12 South Australian Certificate of Education, the state-based equivalent of NSW’s Higher School Certificate or the Victorian Certificate of Education, will no longer be required to take extra tests to assess whether they are eligible for special provisions.
Instead, provisions that are already determined and approved by schools on a case-by-case basis for school-based assessments will be used for their external exams. Special provisions are used in all states and territories and include minor adjustments such as enabling vision-impaired students to use an enlarged exam paper, or giving other students extra reading or writing time, and rest breaks for students with issues such as pain, anxiety disorder or concentration difficulties.
“We want to give every student the opportunity to succeed in their school career,’’ SA Education Minister Susan Close said.
“No student should be disadvantaged in any way from taking part in their SACE subjects and assessments because of disability or impairment.’’
South Australian schools will have greater autonomy to manage the provision requirements for SACE students with a physical disability, vision impairment, hearing impairment, medical condition, psychological disorder or specific learning disorder.
“These changes will not only empower schools to determine and implement special provisions requirements for eligible students, but also help to alleviate unnecessary stress for students and their families,’’ Ms Close said.
South Australia is the first jurisdiction to make the change.
Callum McBrearty, 18, a Year 12 student at Adelaide’s Unley High School who will sit his SACE this year, said the highlights of his time at Unley had been the friendships and opportunities: “The friendships made, I will never forget, between both students and teachers, as well as the support staff from the Link room who kept me going.’’
Unley’s acting deputy princi- pal Richard Whaites said “it is vital for Callum to have special provisions to complete his SACE (and) fully participate in a particular assessment type. In this case it is written examinations where Callum can be provided the use of a scribe, some extra time and rest breaks.”
Jan Raymond, acting chief executive of the SACE board, said: “Special provisions are vital because they help to ensure all SACE students can undertake assessments in fair and comparable conditions. These changes allow for improved continuity and consistency between classroom and assessment.”
Callum McBrearty with school co-ordinator Kate Williams