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Abstract

This research project investigated the current provisions for students with special needs (SWSN) in a national, Australian, Christian school system (49 schools) during 2009–2010. Most respondents were the designated special needs teachers in those schools; however, in some of the small schools the principal also carried this role. In addition to the quantitative data reported via questionnaires, respondents were able to comment on relevant issues and possible solutions, as they perceived them. Issues and tensions included managing limited funding for SWSN in non-government schools; a lack of appropriate qualifications for staff who worked with SWSN; enrolment of SWSN and a changing school profile; lack of networking and sharing between the schools in the system; and diagnosis for students with special needs. Results indicated that 16% of the students had special needs, 28% of the schools did not have any designated special needs staff, while a further 36% did not have qualified staff in this role. The paper includes discussion of the evidence-based issues facing these schools and the system, together with a number of recommendations for improvement.

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