What is the Government doing to support students with disability?

Download What is the Government doing to support students with disability? fact sheet

Funding for school students with disability will continue to grow from 2018

The Australian Government will grow its record level of funding for schools from $17.5 billion in 2017 to $32.4 billion in 2029.

The Government will invest $310.3 billion for school recurrent funding from 2018 to 2029. Of this, an estimated $28.8 billion will be provided for the student with disability loading.

On average, funding for students with disability will grow by 5.1 per cent each year over this period.

Previously funding for school students with disability was inconsistent

Under previous (2014–2017) arrangements, funding for students with disability was inconsistent across the states and territories.

Each state had a different definition of disability which meant a student with the same disability could be funded in one state but not another.

The previous student with disability loading provided a flat rate of 186 per cent of the base per student amount for students with disability attending mainstream schools, and 223 per cent for students with disability attending special schools.

The flat loading did not reflect the broad spectrum of students with disability and the differentiation in costs.

From 2018, funding for school students with disability is targeted

Quality Schools funding arrangements focus on student need with a Schooling Resource Standard (SRS), as recommended by the 2011 Review of Funding for Schooling, led by Mr David Gonski AC. A base amount is provided for every student with additional loadings for disadvantage, including students with disability.

The 2011 Gonski Review recommended the disability loading be based on a national definition of disability, with greater levels of funding for students with higher need.

The Nationally Consistent Collection of Data on School Students with Disability (NCCD) gives us a national definition of a student with disability. The NCCD also groups school students with disability by the level of support they need to access and participate in learning.

From 2018, the student with disability loading is based on the NCCD, which means better targeted and nationally consistent Commonwealth funding for students with disability.

Using NCCD data recognises the professional knowledge, practice and judgements of teachers and school staff who know best the educational needs of their students. Through the collection, teachers make evidence-based decisions about students who are receiving support to access education because of disability and the level of support being provided for each student with disability.

From 2018, funding is informed by the NCCD and based on a per student amount at each of the three levels of additional support needed by a student with disability – supplementary, substantive and extensive.

The loadings, funded in addition to the base amount, as shown in the following table, will continue to be calculated as a percentage of the base per student amount each year.

Table 1: 2019 student with disability loading by NCCD level of adjustment


Base per student amount in 2019




Primary student








Secondary student








Note: The table shows the 2019 amounts under the full SRS and does not take into account a school's transition arrangements to consistent Commonwealth shares of the SRS.

The NCCD captures a fourth level of support, defined as 'support provided within quality differentiated teaching practice', which means a student requires monitoring and support from the teacher and school staff; for example personalised learning but this can be done without the need for additional funding.

Students that are counted in the top three levels of the NCCD attract additional funding through the student with disability loading, regardless of the state in which they live. There are three different loading amounts so funding for a student with disability will more closely reflect the level of support they need to participate fully in school.

Further work

The Government has allocated an additional $20 million over four years to strengthen and quality assure the NCCD across all sectors. This funding is being provided to target activities that will improve the quality and consistency of the NCCD. The Government is working collaboratively with state and territory government and non-government education authorities to develop and implement projects to be funded by the NCCD Continuous Improvement Package.

The Government has also established the National School Resourcing Board to review elements of the funding model under the Australian Education Act 2013 and assess compliance of approved authorities with its requirements. On 15 November, the Government commissioned the Board to conduct a review of the loading for students with disability and deliver a report by December 2019.