Sydney Catholic Schools promotes an inclusive approach to student learning. We recognise that students learn differently and often require learning opportunities tailored to individual differences with high expectations for learning growth.

All Sydney Catholic Schools provide reasonable adjustments and targeted interventions to support students with disability and additional learning needs.

Our teachers work in close collaboration with students, parents/carers and specialist staff to develop personalised plans. These plans are focused on specific educational goals related to areas such as curriculum, communication and social skills.

All Sydney Catholic schools engage in the annual Nationally Consistent Collection of Data for School Students with Disability. This process is vital in ensuring that identified students have the right support for their particular disability or additional learning needs.

Sydney Catholic Schools also boasts a variety of specific learning support services and programs that offer targeted intervention for students, including:

  • The Post School Pathways Program
    Assisting senior secondary schools with complex support needs in preparation for future training and employment opportunities.
  • Expert on-site consultation
    Experts from Sydney Catholic Schools’ Diverse Learning team provide advice and resourcing to assist and support schools in the planning and delivery of adjustments for learners who have developmental disorders, sensory disability, physical disability and speech, language and communication disorders.


Sydney Catholic Schools recognises the importance of ongoing training for our teachers and school leaders. Across the system, we ensure a shared understanding of the guiding principles of inclusive practices and specific educational requirements for students with disability, including Nationally Consistent Collection of Data (NCCD) processes.

Our ongoing professional learning supports teachers to identify key characteristics of diverse learners and effectively respond to these needs in development of student potential.

In order to enhance the capabilities of our teachers and Learning Support Officers, Sydney Catholic Schools has made available a suite of online training courses. These courses are accredited by the teacher accreditation authorities across Australia, and contribute to our teachers’ progression through the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers.

Online training courses provide flexible professional learning opportunities for principals, teachers and learning support officers, in both primary and secondary schools. Each course is designed to build the capacity of school staff to support students with disability and additional learning needs.

The courses are designed in partnership with international Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) specialists and reflect current evidence-based practice, enabling participants to develop the understanding and skills they need to improve learner outcomes.

Courses offered include:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder;
  • Dyslexia & Significant Difficulties in Reading;
  • Personalised Learning;
  • Speech, Language & Communication Needs;
  • Understanding Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder;
  • Understanding Hearing Loss; and
  • Vision Impairment.

Sydney Catholic Schools also offers Disability Standards for Education e-learning modules. These courses are designed to help teachers, school leaders and Learning Support Officers uphold their legal obligations under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and the Disability Standards for Education 2005 and focus on providing fair access to education for students with disability.

As part of the suite of professional learning available through our online training modules, Sydney Catholic Schools offers free, short eLearning courses for parents on the following topics:

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD); and
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

These short courses are specifically designed for parents of children with ADHD and ASD, and provide a variety of evidence informed insights and perspectives.


At Sydney Catholic Schools, we have various expert teams who work with our classroom teachers to enhance their ability to achieve learning outcomes for students. These teams specialise in a number of key areas that cover the full range of learners’ diverse needs, ensuring an inclusive approach to learning for all.

The Complex Communication Support Program is facilitated by specialist speech pathologists who work alongside support school teams to deliver personalised plans for students who have complex communication needs. These students may benefit from accessing a range of assistive technologies, such as augmentative and alternative communication strategies to support their learning and social development.

Our speech pathologists also offer training to staff, on-site coaching and collaborative planning in the development of students’ personalised plans.

Students with learning difficulties may have problems with reading, writing, mathematics or paying attention in class. Learning difficulties may be formally diagnosed as Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Dyspraxia, Dyscalculia and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. The experts within Sydney Catholic Schools’ Diverse Learning team lead school teams to plan for and make reasonable adjustments to enable students with specific learning difficulties to fully access the curriculum.

Our experts also run a suite of professional learning opportunities for teachers across all our schools to build the capacity of school teams to identify students with learning difficulties and to implement school-wide responses to support them.

Eileen O’Connor Catholic College Lewisham is a Kindergarten to Year 12 co-educational school that promotes a holistic pedagogy, to support the needs of students with moderate intellectual disability and other significant needs, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder and severe language disorders.

The college employs an effective and innovative multidisciplinary model that significantly enhances learning, social and functional skills for students across all ages, particularly in the areas of literacy and interpersonal social skills acquisition.

Sydney Catholic Schools Specialist Support Classes are located at Good Shepherd Primary School, Hoxton Park and Good Samaritan Catholic College, Hinchinbrook. We have plans to open additional Specialist Support Classes across the Archdiocese of Sydney over the next few years.

Specialist Support Classes meet the faith, educational, social and wellbeing needs of students by providing a rigorous, yet highly supported educational program for students with intellectual disabilities and complex needs. Students’ educational needs are met through:

  • Evidence-based strategies and targeted resourcing
  • Individualised planning and goal setting
  • Highly skilled and experienced teachers
  • Engaging and holistic learning experiences
  • Smaller class sizes and a high teacher to student ratio
  • Speech Pathologist and Occupational Therapist within class supports

Every student is encouraged to excel in a multitude of ways, through personalised and self-paced learning, where student voice and special interests are incorporated into the class program. Students enrolled in Specialist Support Classes will be important, valued members of the school community and will be included in every aspect of the life of the school. Students may also be eligible for the Assisted Supported Travel Program.

Both schools are accepting Expressions of Interest for families who are interested in applying for a position in one of the support classes. Please follow the links below to complete Expression of Interest forms.

Sydney Catholic Schools offer students with a disability the opportunity to engage in representative sports, such as swimming, athletics and cross country, from the age of eight years.

Sydney Catholic Schools also offers additional sporting and physical engagement opportunities which include participation in Multi-sport days and Come and Try events. We also support students to fully access and participate in different dimensions of the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) Personal Development, Health and Physical Education (PDHPE) curriculum, and have dedicated staff to work with classroom teachers to embed inclusive strategies into lessons.

Reading Recovery is the preferred early literacy intervention strategy in Sydney Catholic Schools and is underpinned by contemporary, peer-reviewed research.

It is a short-term literacy intervention that fosters literacy acquisition for Year 1 students who are identified as the lowest achievers in literacy within their class cohort.

Reading Recovery accelerates literacy development ensuring students become independent readers and writers, and is delivered by a specially-trained teacher who has received intensive year-long professional learning.

The Reading Recovery teacher works daily one-on-one with students for 30 minutes, for a maximum of 20 weeks.

For the five years to 2021, 5509 Year One students have received the intervention and over 91 per cent of these students have reached the reading and writing average of their peers.

The intervention also identifies approximately seven per cent of students as needing further highly specialised support. These students then receive adjustments to their learning that target their specific needs.

The Arrowsmith Program is designed for Year 3 to 12 students of average to above average ability who are experiencing difficulty with reading, writing, mathematics, comprehension, non-verbal learning and attention, but without a diagnosed intellectual, emotional, mental or behavioural disorder or a brain injury.

Students diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) would not typically be enrolled in the program. However, in some cases, the program has enabled individuals with high functioning ASD to address their cognitive learning needs.

The bespoke program, which is available to Sydney Catholic School students on a fee-for-service basis, is based on the application of neuroscientific research, demonstrating that it is possible to address learning difficulties by identifying and strengthening weak cognitive capacities.

The Arrowsmith Program addresses the root causes of learning difficulties through students engaging in tailored cognitive exercises aimed at enabling students to become effective, confident and self-directed learners for life.

The Arrowsmith Questionnaire can help identify your child’s cognitive abilities and challenges and their suitability for the program.