What do the NCCD Guidelines say about imputing disability?
What factors determine an imputed disability for the NCCD?
Without a diagnosis what might constitute evidence?
Consulting with parents/guardians/carers/associates
How do some schools manage the process to impute a disability?
The following represent the common themes arising from the webinar. Queries regarding specific cases or practices within each education authority should be addressed to your key contact.
Are you legally required to impute and thus include a student onto the NCCD?
Yes. If you consider that a student has a disability which requires an NCCD eligible adjustment, but has no diagnosis, you must record that student in the NCCD.
The Australian Education Regulation 2013 requires all schools that receive Australian Government funding to report the information required for the NCCD to the Department on an annual basis.
According to the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 a disability includes disability that is imputed to a person.
Do we need to have the consent of parents, guardians, or carers to impute a disability?
No. Although parents/guardians/carers should be consulted their consent is not required to impute a disability. If the school team considers that a student has a disability reportable in the NCCD, they have an obligation to record that student even if the student’s parents/guardian/carer disagrees.
Schools are required to include all students for whom they have reasonable grounds (supported by documented evidence) that an undiagnosed disability is having a functional impact on the student’s capacity to access and participate in education on the same basis as students without disability.
School teams do not diagnose a specific disability but impute that a disability exists in one of the four broad categories - physical, cognitive, sensory, or social/emotional.
What is the difference between associates and parents/ carers/ guardians?
Parents/guardians/carers are types of associate, along with other people who may have a caring relationship towards the student. The definition of an associate can be found below:
The Disability Standards for Education (2005) section 1.4 explains that an associate of a person can include:
(a) a spouse of the person; and
(b) another person who is living with the person on a genuine domestic basis; and
(c) a relative of the person; and
(d) a carer of the person; and
(e) another person who is in a business, sporting, or recreational relationship with the person.
A parent/carer/guardian of a child is legally responsible for their care and welfare until they are 18.
Is there a limit of how many years a school team can impute a student, if a formal diagnosis has not been sought or the family is not on-board regarding disability?
No. Ideally, imputing disability will lead to a formal diagnosis, which is most likely to be in the student’s best interests. If not, disability can be imputed over several years, and there is no time limit. However, as individual needs and the functional impact of disability can change over time, the decision to impute a disability should be reviewed each year to ensure the student is receiving appropriate adjustment(s) and is still eligible for inclusion in the NCCD.
Can you impute a different disability if there is already a diagnosed disability? i.e.: If there is functional impact on learning and adjustments that are unrelated to the diagnosed disability are in place.
Yes. A school team can impute disability when it believes, based on reasonable grounds, and supported by documented evidence, that an undiagnosed disability is having a functional impact on the student’s capacity to access and participate in education on the same basis as students without disability.
If a student has multiple disabilities and fits within more than one category, you should select the disability category that has the greatest impact on the student’s education and is the main driver of adjustments to support their access and participation.
In most cases, this should be done in consultation with the student’s parents/guardians/carers.
Can students with imputed disability be placed at substantial or extensive levels of adjustment based on the amount of support provided?
Yes. The frequency and intensity of the learning adjustments that a student receives due to their disability determines the NCCD level of adjustment, not whether it is diagnosed or imputed.
Can we impute students in their first year of fulltime schooling if they are receiving adjustments that indicate a disability?
Yes. A school team can impute disability at any time based upon reasonable grounds and supported by documented evidence if they have the required 10 weeks of evidence for that student.
To be eligible for counting in the NCCD, students must meet the same requirements as those with a diagnosed disability.
Can we impute disability for students whose learning is impacted by parents who have disability?
No. However a school team may impute a disability if it has a reasonable belief, supported by documented evidence, that the student has a disability as opposed to students whose learning is impacted by parents who have a disability.
Is there a particular age at which parent/guardian/carer involvement is no longer needed for imputing?
No. The NCCD Guidelines recommend that parents, guardians, carers, or associates should be consulted when imputing disability and informed when the student is included in the NCCD. However, where this is not possible, school teams will impute disability based on reasonable belief supported by documented evidence.
Do we need parental permission to implement adjustments?
No. As required by the Disability Standards for Education (2005), before the school makes an adjustment for a student, it must consult the student or an associate of the student to determine the nature of adjustment(s) required. ‘Associate’ is defined in section B.1.1 Educational support for students with disability and the glossary.
It is best practice for schools to consult with parents, guardians, or carers before making an adjustment(s). However, for some students, it may be more appropriate to consult only with the student themselves or with an associate. Under these circumstances, it is not mandatory for the school to consult with parents, guardians, or carers, but the adjustment(s) must still be made. In this circumstance the school should document the reasons they have not consulted with parents, guardians, or carers – a brief explanation will be sufficient.
In each case, this is a matter for the school to determine depending on the student’s individual circumstances and their cognitive capacity to make decisions for themselves as mature minors.
Note: While it is desirable for parents, guardians or carers and the student or their associate to agree to the adjustment(s), consultation about adjustments does not require agreement for those adjustments to be applied, or for the student to be included in the NCCD.
What is the difference between "absenteeism" and "school refusal"?
Absenteeism is the term to used describe the fact that a student has not attended school as required. The reasons for that may vary but the impact of chronic absenteeism may mean that the student’s learning is impacted. Absenteeism may result in learning difficulties simply because they have had insufficient opportunities to learn and are consequently not achieving at an expected level.
School refusal is when a student is so distressed at the idea of going to school that they are unable to attend. Typically, school refusal is a term used when this distress continues for an extended time. School refusal often results in chronic absenteeism and associated impact on learning.
School refusal itself is not disability. However, the underlying causes for school refusal may be, and they are what determine (with evidence) that a disability such as a social/emotional disability exists.
What is the difference between ‘learning difference’, ‘learning difficulty’ and ‘learning disability’?
Learning differences refers to the diverse ways all students learn and the rates at which they learn. Learning differences consider individual learning motivators; learner aspirations, interests, experience, and cultural background; and individual students’ strengths and needs.
Learning difficulties refers to factors outside of learning differences or disabilities that might affect a student’s ability to achieve at the same rate as their peers. Factors such as absenteeism, ineffective instruction, inadequate exposure to necessary curricula, English as an additional language, socio-economic status and personal or family trauma may all impact upon a student’s ability to effectively engage with learning activities and meet academic expectations. This may lead to difficulties for the student in meeting the expected learning targets for their age and/or years of schooling.
Learning disabilities are defined by the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) and the Disability Standards for Education 2005 as 'a disorder or malfunction that results in a person learning differently from a person without a disorder or malfunction'.
Students with learning disabilities are a specific group who are considered to have learning difficulties but do not respond to appropriate intervention. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-5 (American Psychiatric Association, 2013) classifies learning disabilities as ‘Specific learning disorders’ among a number of other neurodevelopmental disorders. According to the Dyslexia–SPELD Foundation, a specific learning disorder will not be diagnosed if other mental, sensory, or neurological disorders exist.
What if a parent insists that more adjustments are needed than the school team deems essential or there are too many to implement at once and the student is overwhelmed?
Under the Disability Standards for Education (2005), it is the responsibility of the school to determine the necessary adjustments, not the parents, carers, guardians etc.
The school team is not obliged to provide adjustments it considers unreasonable.
The Disability Standards for Education (2005) require schools to provide reasonable adjustments for students with disability and balances the best interests of all parties affected. While it is desirable for the student or their associate, parents, guardians, or carers to agree to the adjustment(s), consultation about adjustments does not require agreement for those adjustments to be applied, or for the student to be included in the NCCD.
The portal has some suggestions for framing a conversation with parents, guardians, and carers in a constructive way. Refer to page 7, Imputing disability for the NCCD.
What constitutes sufficient evidence for imputing a disability? Does this vary based on the category of disability imputed or level of adjustment provided?
10 weeks of evidence constitutes sufficient evidence for imputing a disability.
Each school’s evidence recorded for individuals will be contextual and reflect that student's needs and strengths and the school’s learning and support processes and practices. More information of evidence is provided.
Queries regarding specific cases should be referred to your NCCD key contact.