Implementing the Australian Curriculum for students with disabilities in specialist settings

Julie McMillan, Karyn Carson, Peter Walker, Anna Noble, Jane Jarvis, Kerry Bissaker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Commentary on the introduction of the Australian Curriculum (AC) has reflected a tension for educators of students with disabilities (SWD) between in-principle support for a curriculum that is inclusive of all students and the challenge of translating a general framework into relevant, individualised learning experiences appropriate for all SWD. In this paper, we report on findings from the second part of a national online survey in which we explored the perceptions and practices of 151 educators of SWD in specialist settings (special schools, disability units co-located at mainstream schools, special classes within mainstream schools) in relation to the AC. Specifically, these findings relate to the professional learning (PL) experiences and perceived needs of educators of SWD related to the AC and their advice to policymakers about the AC for SWD. Consistent with previous research, participants expressed a preference for PL experiences delivered on site, facilitated by content experts over extended periods, with opportunities for demonstration and targeted feedback, and in the context of collegial learning communities. In addition, participants raised concerns about the extent to which the AC is fully inclusive of all SWD. Implications for policy, practice, and future research are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-142
Number of pages16
JournalAustralasian Journal of Special and Inclusive Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Australian Curriculum
  • special education
  • special educators
  • students with disabilities


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