Victoria (Australia): Number of Disabled Students Soars
The number of state school students with disabilities and language disorders has soared by almost 10,000 in five years.
Education Department figures show there are 23,083 Victorian students in school disability and language disorder programs this year, a rise of 74 per cent compared with the 13,257 in 2000.
But a Royal Children's Hospital expert said the figures were "a significant underestimate", and most academics believed at least 10 per cent of school children had extra learning needs.
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Educators attribute the increased student numbers to improvements in recognising disabilities.
Peter Steele, vice-president of the Australian Education Union's primary sector in Victoria, said the funding model could also be a factor. Schools that apply for funding for students with disabilities may receive from $4677 to $35,000, based on the extent of a student's needs. "The tendency is for people to paint a picture, if you like, of a child with a more severe disability to get more funds," Mr Steele said.