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New NSW Syllabuses


Adjustments are measures or actions taken in relation to teaching, learning and assessment that enable a student with special education needs to access syllabus outcomes and content on the same basis as their peers. The types of adjustments made will vary according to the needs of the individual student.


Some students may require:

  • adjustments to classroom organisation
  • appropriate materials and resources that support teaching and learning activities, eg the use of technology, alternate formats such as large print, disk or Braille, simplified texts, subtitled DVDs; oral sign interpreters or readers and scribes; modifications to equipment or furniture; and adjustments to enable participation in field trips and excursions
  • adjustments to the amount of content to be covered in a particular lesson or unit or the time allocated to complete work
  • consideration of their individual communication strategies, including verbal and non-verbal communication systems
  • additional demonstration of key concepts and skills by the teacher, teacher’s aide or a peer
  • a range of appropriate learning activities with structured opportunities for guided and independent practice, as well as effective feedback
  • additional support through group work, volunteer or peer tutoring.

Specific examples of adjustments are provided below. Some of the strategies may require additional support from the teacher, teacher’s aide or peer.

A student may participate in commenting and discussing by:

  • oral contribution to class discussion
  • answering closed questions on a topic
  • using changes in facial expression, nod or gesture to respond to a closed question, eg ‘Are you playing in a sports team at school?’
  • selecting photographs, pictures or symbols from visual aids, such as a double item choice board or keyring cluster, eg the student makes a choice between two photographs to express a preference (like/don’t like)
  • selecting symbols from a communication board to express an opinion
  • using a communication device, such as a voice output communication aid (VOCA), eg the student leads a group discussion with pre-recorded questions or a peer records information on a communication device for the student to present to the class during group work
  • using assistive listening devices to participate in and contribute to small-group and whole-class discussions.

A student may participate in writing or recording by:

  • writing simple answers to questions
  • ticking pre-prepared checklists
  • using photographs, pictures or symbols, eg the student sequences pictures to tell a story, combines symbols to convey meaning, circles a selection of symbols on a page to create a list
  • using computer software, eg the student uses a drawing program and pictures to write, uses scanned pictures and/or digital photographs in a multimedia presentation, uses assistive technology to select text or pictures from the screen
  • using electronic communication devices, such as speech to text.

A student may participate in reading activities by:

  • reading simplified texts
  • reading transcripts
  • following a text being read by a peer or adult
  • following an audio or multimedia presentation of a text, or DVD with captioning
  • reading a text accompanied by visual images to represent characters, settings and events
  • following a visual sequence of instructions, such as a visual recipe or a visual timetable.

A student may participate in listening activities by:

  • listening to a text being read by a peer or adult
  • listening to an audio text, multimedia presentation, or DVD with captioning
  • responding to tone of voice in conjunction with facial expressions, gestures and/or physical prompts
  • using assistive listening devices.

A student may participate in viewing activities by:

  • viewing subtitled DVDs
  • reading summaries/descriptions of the visual input from photographs, multimedia presentations, films, pictures and posters
  • listening to a peer or adult describe the visual input from photographs, multimedia presentations, films, pictures and posters while they ‘view’ the visual media or multimedia together
  • responding to sensory stimuli, facial expressions, gestures or physical prompts in conjunction with tone of voice.

Decisions are made at school level to offer adjustments to students with special education needs in course work and assessment activities.


Some students may require additional support beyond that required to demonstrate achievement on the same basis as their peers.

This support may be as well as or instead of adjustments, and may involve:

  • visual and/or verbal prompts when undertaking classwork and/or assessments
  • physical prompts and/or physical assistance when participating in an activity
  • provision of partial information/responses to assist the student to demonstrate understanding of knowledge, skill or concepts.

More information on adjustments can be found in syllabus support materials.