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CASE STUDY Sarah, Physical, Substantial

Year level
Educational setting
Mainstream school

Level of adjustment
Category of disability
Included in data collection

Sarah's story

Sarah is in Year 11 at a regional co-educational secondary school. At the end of Year 10, Sarah had an accident during gymnastics training, which resulted in permanent damage to her spinal cord (paraplegia). Sarah was hospitalised for three months from December to February and returned to school to commence her Year 11 studies in March. Sarah uses a motorised wheelchair, which she operates independently.

At the beginning of the year, a school environmental assessment was completed in collaboration with Sarah’s occupational therapist (OT) to ensure accessibility. Modifications were made to enable Sarah to access all areas of the school environment (ie ramps, lifts, doorways, toilets). Following advice from Sarah’s medical specialists, the school installed air conditioning into all of Sarah’s classrooms, as extreme heat and cold affect her breathing and general health.

Sarah has received support both externally and through the school. Her health continues to impact significantly on her school attendance as she requires ongoing medical treatment and rehabilitation. Prior to the accident, adjustments to the curriculum were already being provided as Sarah also presents with learning and language difficulties and she had a modified program in some areas (eg modified curriculum outcomes in English, where she was completing less complex tasks than her peers).

Sarah receives external support, including curriculum support from a hospital educational consultant and supervision of assessments when Sarah is unable to attend school. Sarah also receives ongoing counselling services as part of the hospital rehabilitation, tutoring support outside of school, and access to accessible transport to and from school as well as for camps and excursions and off-site therapist activities.

The school provides adjustments to Sarah’s curriculum content and assessments process, and supports Sarah’s engagement with school when in hospital by providing a laptop so that she can electronically access lessons and curriculum content (video conferencing for lessons and group work, and regular email communication with subject teachers). Once a term, Sarah’s OT consults with the PE teacher regarding adjustments that can be made to the curriculum. However, her family often chooses to schedule appointments at times that she has PE timetabled and they alert the school in advance when she will be absent from class. The school also undertakes ongoing risk assessment for school camps, excursions, activities and curriculum tasks. Sarah is supported with personal care needs (supervisory support to assist her with the catheterisation process, while working towards her doing this independently).

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.

    As defined by the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, Sarah has a malfunction, malformation or disfigurement of a part of her body.

  • Do you have evidence? Yes

    • Extensive medical reports
    • Records of ongoing consultation with hospital, Sarah and her family
    • Use of specialised equipment by the school and student
    • Electronic content for all curriculum areas
    • Supervision timetable
    • Emails with subject-specific teachers
    • Teachers’ lesson plans showing planned adjustments for Sarah
    • Forward planning and risk assessment for camps and excursions
    • Rehabilitation case management
    • School personalised learning plan
    • Modified assignments
  • Step 2. What is the level of adjustment? Substantial

    Sarah requires considerable adult support and adjustments occur at most times on most days including:

    • additional support or individualised instruction in a highly structured manner, including adjustments to courses, curriculum areas, activities and assessments
    • planned health, personal care and/or safety support or intervention, in addition to active monitoring and supervision
    • adjustments to enable access to learning including:
      • specialised equipment
      • specific planning for access to activities or facilities
      • monitored playground supervision
      • modification to school environments, such as buildings and facilities
      • environmental adjustments to support participation in learning
      • provision of specialist advice on a regular basis
      • support from specialist staff.


    • are considerable in extent
    • occur within highly structured situations.
  • Step 3. What is the category of disability? Physical

    Sarah has a physical disability in the form of paraplegia.

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

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