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Same first day for children with disability and/or additional needs

The Same First Day (or single intake) policy came into effect in South Australian preschools in 2013 and schools in 2014. It makes sure all children receive four terms of preschool and four terms of reception at school, and brings South Australia in line with practices of schools in other Australian states.

In 2016 the Ministerial Advisory Committee: Children and Students with Disability (MAC:CSWD) undertook a study to determine how implementation of the policy affected children with disability and/or additional needs.

Current enrolment policies in South Australia

The current enrolment policies vary across the three educational sectors in South Australia.

The DECD Preschool Enrolment Policy states that children are entitled to four terms of preschool in the year before they start school. There is one intake at the beginning of each year for children who turn four years of age before 1 May.

An extended transition in the first term of school may be granted to children with disability and/or additional needs, when they commence school in the following year.

Following a review of enrolment policies in 2015, the Catholic Education sector announced the re-introduction of a mid-year intake option for its schools.

Enrolment policies at Independent schools in South Australia are at the discretion of the individual school.

School readiness

Developmental readiness of children commencing school can significantly vary. Under the school enrolment policies children commence school within the age range of 4.75 to 6 years of age.

For children with disability and/or additional needs, development can be more protracted and greater flexibility in enrolment practices may be needed to assist the child in settling into school.

‘Readiness’ is a shared responsibility, which includes the readiness of the school, teaching staff and wider school community to accept the diverse skills and wide-ranging developmental needs of all children.

Flexibility in enrolment practices

Educators are increasingly required to respond to specific needs of children.

Negotiated extensions to enrolments for children with disability and/or additional needs can allow increased time in preschool for children to grow and develop their independent living skills, and for schools to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate them.

Reasonable adjustments

Reasonable adjustments that build flexibility into enrolment practices can include:

  • extended enrolments that allow more time for the child to develop
  • transition processes that are tailored to the specific needs of the child
  • differentiation of the curriculum to allow the child to further develop their independence and social skills through play
  • using inclusive practices at the school.

These examples of early interventions support the specific needs of children with disability and/or additional needs to be better accommodated at school.

Contact

Ministerial Advisory Committee: Children and Students with Disability

Phone: (08) 8226 3632
Email: decdminadv [at] sa.gov.au