Skip to content

What are special needs schools?

Australia has both government and independent specialist schools for children with complex educational needs, including children who are deaf or hard of hearing.

These schools provide tailored learning experiences within a safe and supportive environment. Special needs schools use a curriculum based on the Australian Curriculum, but it can be adapted to suit students’ needs.

Your child will need to meet the school’s diagnosis criteria to enrol. Some special needs schools also have enrolment zones, meaning you’ll need to live within a specific area around the school for your child to get a place there. Class sizes in special needs schools are often smaller than those of mainstream schools. Some have expert support staff onsite, such as a Teacher of the Deaf and/or a speech pathologist.

If your child is deaf or hard of hearing and has additional needs, they may be able to attend more than one special needs school. The professionals working with your family and/or the staff at the schools you’re interested in can talk to you about this.

Your child also has the right to enrol at a mainstream school. Assistance should be available to support your child’s success in the classroom, such as extra staffing, specialist training for teachers, and provision of assistive listening devices.

Some states allow children to split their weeks between a government special needs school and a mainstream school (known as ‘dual enrolment’). Families might choose to do this so their child can benefit from the different resources and programs available at each school. This works best if your family and both schools work together.