There has been a growth in the percentage of disabled students in Australian classrooms and a teaching union has spoken out at a senate inquiry.The Australian Education Union says that 11.4 per cent of students had one or more disability in 2009, up from 9.5 per cent in 1998 and warns that new teachers are often ill-equipped to deal with disabilities.
At a senate inquiry into disabled students the union stated: “Students are presenting with disabilities that are increasingly complex, unfamiliar and in some instances less visible.”
The Australian reports that the union claims that one of the issues is mothers drinking alcohol during pregnancy which can cause a condition called foetal alcohol syndrome which leads to behavioural issues in school.
The AEU wants university teaching courses to include training on dealing with special needs and for existing teachers to receive ongoing training in dealing with disabilities.
The union highlights the problems for principals and teachers who are being expected to cope with a larger range and volume of disabilities, many of which mean disruptive or abusive behaviour. Schools receive no additional funding.
As well as funding there is a lack of support available for students with the Australian Bureau of Statistics reporting that a third of those with disabilities not receiving special support or arrangements in mainstream schools.
The federal government has pledged $5 billion in funding for disabled students between 2014 and 2017.