What Are HSC & VCE Disability Provisions and Should Your Student Apply?

Disability provisions are arrangements made for students with disabilities to ensure they are not disadvantaged during HSC and VCE exams. These reasonable adjustments help students to participate on the same basis as students without disabilities. 

In NSW, over 7000 students apply each year for consideration. Provisions are granted based on an assessment of how a student’s exam performance will be impeded by their disability. They allow students to accurately demonstrate what they know and what they can do.

What Provisions Are Available? 

Students with learning, hearing, vision and medical requirements can apply for exam consideration. 

Adjustments include:

* a reader and/or scribe

* braille or large-print exam papers

* a sign or oral interpreter 

* furniture adaptations

* additional time to read and/or write

* breaks for food and exercise

* use of medical aids 

Episodic conditions, such as a migraine, are not covered by these provisions and would instead fall under illness/misadventure. If, however, contributing factors can be identified, such as fluorescent lighting, then adjustments may be possible. 

Principals have authority to make decisions about eligibility for certain provisions in NSW but an application still needs to be filed with New South Wales Education Standards Authority (NESA).

How Can My Child Apply?

NSW

In NSW, schools determine and approve adjustments for school-based assessment tasks while NESA approves adjustments for HSC exams only.

To apply, schools submit an online application. The application must include information about the provision/s the student requires, recent evidence such as medical reports and academic results, as well as supporting teacher comments.

It’s important to note that adjustments approved by the school for HSC assessment tasks will not necessarily be granted by NESA. Each application is assessed by trained staff in consultation with health professionals to ensure equity and consistency across the whole HSC cohort.  

Students with the same disability may not be granted the same provision/s as decisions are based on the functional evidence provided.

In NSW, applications are open from Tterm 4 in the year prior to HSC exams, and they close at the end of Term 1. It’s recommended that the school apply as early as possible to avoid uncertainty and allow students to complete practice exams based on approved provisions. 

Once a decision is made, a letter is issued to the school’s principal and the student also receives a copy. The school has 14 days from the issue date of the letter to appeal the decision. 

Victoria 

The process to apply for what are known as Special Examination Arrangements in Victoria is similar to NSW. Applications are submitted by the school and must be endorsed by the principal. They are assessed by Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA) in keeping with its policies.

Decisions are based on independent professional and/or educational assessments and school-based evidence. A disability or illness does not mean provisions will be approved if the student’s capacity to sit exams is not impacted. 

For long-term and permanent conditions, applications for Special Examination Arrangements can be applied for as early as Year 9. Other students can apply when they enrol in the VCE. The school has 14 days to appeal the VCAA’s decision. 

While schools are responsible for applying for HSC and VCE disability provisions, students and parents should be consulted throughout the entire process. This helps make the application process much smoother and ensures students get the level of support they require.

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