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CASE STUDY Aref, Substantial, Physical

Year level
Educational setting
Mainstream school

Level of adjustment
Category of disability
Included in data collection

Aref's story

Aref is a Year 11 student at a specialist secondary college that offers a high performance select entry sports program alongside the senior secondary curriculum. The school designs learning programs that allow students to balance their sporting and academic pursuits. Aref is a very talented football player and hopes to play professionally when he finishes school. He has always enjoyed school and achieved good grades. 

Towards the end of Year 10, Aref’s coaches and his family noticed that he frequently looked tired and was less energetic than usual. Aref also found he wasn’t able to keep up with his teammates and took longer to recover after training. He had been pushing himself and decided to take a break over the summer holidays and rest. 

When Aref returned to training at the start of Year 11, he became extremely fatigued after the first week of school. This impacted his capacity to participate in classroom and sporting activities. Despite increasing the hours he slept, he experienced relentless fatigue and lethargy. These concerns became worse during Term 1 with Aref being so exhausted he found it difficult to wake up for school in the morning or had to leave during the school day due to extreme fatigue. He also found it very difficult to concentrate after completing simple tasks such as reading a few pages of a book. 

Aref’s doctor requested blood tests but the results were inconclusive. The doctor referred Aref to a medical specialist familiar with treating elite athletes who experience unexplained fatigue. The specialist has met with Aref and his family once and is carrying out further tests.

Aref’s attendance has been 50 per cent in Term 2. The Head of Learning Support has created a collaborative online document that records Aref’s progress in his health and schoolwork and allows Aref and the staff at his school to communicate his progress. This document is shared with Aref, his parents, the Wellbeing Leader, the school psychologist, his football and fitness coaches and his teachers. 

Teachers have reduced their expectations about the amount of work Aref has to complete. He now has a personalised timetable with reduced classroom time, supplemented with a remote learning program. Aref’s teachers prepare ‘work packs’ each week that he can work through at his own pace, at school or at home. They also offer him a weekly online check-in session to focus on any areas of difficulty. 

Aref completes most written assessment tasks at home, or is provided with extra time and rest breaks at school. He has access to a bed in the school sick bay to rest when required. While he no longer attends practical classes or football training, his coaches have maintained regular contact. 
This has been a very challenging time for Aref and he has become frustrated that he can’t perform at his usual level, both physically and academically. The school psychologist meets with him twice a week to check on his wellbeing and closely monitor his mood. She is in regular contact with his family to discuss his support needs at school and home. 

The school and Aref’s parents are concerned that he has become more withdrawn lately and doesn’t want to spend time with his friends. They will continue to monitor his health and wellbeing and provide curriculum support while further testing takes place and the school receives medical advice regarding his condition from the specialist.

Information that supports inclusion in the NCCD What's this?

  • Step 1. Is there an adjustment to address disability? Yes

    • Yes, adjustments are provided to enable a student with disability to access education on the same basis as other students.
    • Based on professional judgement of the school team, it is believed that Aref has an imputed disability as defined by the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 as a total or partial loss of bodily or mental functions. 
  • Do you have evidence? Yes


    • Details of medical appointments
    • Collaborative online communication document
    • Wellbeing Leader’s notes from communications with Aref and his family
    • School psychologist’s case notes
    • Personalised timetable
    • Teachers’ notes from weekly check-ins
    • Weekly work packs from each subject teacher
    • Subject teachers’ individualised programming 
    • Assessments completed with special provisions 
    • Sick-bay attendance log
    • School attendance data showing 50 per cent attendance
  • Step 2. What is the level of adjustment? Substantial

    Adjustments are provided at most times on most days including:

    • additional support or individualised instruction in a highly structured manner, including adjustments to most courses, curriculum areas, activities and assessments
    • active monitoring and supervision of health and wellbeing status while at school
    • adjustments to enable access to learning, including support from specialist staff
    • adjustments to teaching and learning, such as frequent (teacher-directed) individual instruction, adapted assessment procedures 
    • adjustments to delivery modes, such as significantly modified study materials, provision of work packs and adapted assessment procedures. 
  • Step 3. What is the category of disability? Physical

    In the absence of a formal diagnosis, the school has identified that Aref should be included under the physical category. This is based on the adjustments that are being provided to support Aref for an imputed disability.

  • Step 4. Record and submit the data Yes (Student is included)

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