Parents’ role emphasised

Statewide services executive director Eirlys Ingram said the department did not have a policy about students repeating a year.

‘All decisions about enrolment sit with the school and family,’ she said. ‘The school and the parents discuss the child’s needs and come to a decision made in the best interests of the child.’

Ms Ingram said parents had the responsibility to enrol a child in an educational program for each year of compulsory schooling, and to ensure the child attended when the school was open.

‘School principals must record the student’s attendance and determine whether or not an absence is authorised,’ she said.

‘Where a student is absent from school and an acceptable explanation has not been received from the parent within three days, the principal requests an explanation from the parent.

‘In circumstances where all reasonable practical steps to restore the student’s attendance have been taken without success, the matter may be referred for prosecution.’

Ms Ingram said the public education system offered a range of support for children with special educational needs, or parents could enrol their children at private schools or register to educate them at home.

‘The Department of Education provides support and advice to public schools to address needs of students with disability through special education needs schools: disability, sensory, and medical and mental health,’ she said.

‘Parents of students with disabilities can access support services either through the Disability Services Commission if they meet the eligibility criteria, or other non-government agencies such as the Autism Association of Western Australia, Autism West or Dyslexia-SPELD which offers services such as tuition, resources and advice.’

According to Ms Ingram, a public school would receive resources to support an autistic child based on what teaching and learning adjustments it had to make.

‘Once a child is enrolled in a school, the principal will begin planning to best meet their educational needs,’ she said.

‘This includes considering how lesson content needs to be modified and what processes need to be in place for the student to develop their social and communication skills.’