Year 12 students at some of the top private schools in NSW are more likely to be granted special treatment in HSC exams than their public school peers.
Some elite schools are seeking special “disability provisions” for their students at more than six times the rate of publicly funded schools, according to government data.
Last year, private and Catholic schools accounted for three-quarters of the 100 schools claiming the most concessions for their students in the form of snack breaks and extra time to complete their HSC exams.
This is despite the fact there are a higher number of disabled children at the state’s public schools across all year levels.
According to federal Department of Education data, 21.3 per cent of all public school students had some sort of disability last year compared to 19 per cent of students in the Catholic system and 18.7 per cent of pupils attending independent schools.
But in last year’s HSC, students from the poorest areas of Sydney, including Liverpool Boys, Punchbowl Boys and Belmore Boys, received no disability assistance.
Sydney Distance Education High School, at 59 per cent, had the highest rate of successful applicants, closely followed by the $31,000-a-year Emanuel School in Randwick, where 45 per cent of students received some sort of concession in their exams.
Principal Andrew Watt defended the school’s high rate of disability provision submissions, saying the request was made by parents.
“Our broadbased, non-selective enrolment policy attracts a range of students, both at the gifted and talented and the high-learning needs ends,” he said.
Other expensive private schools to claim disability provisions for more than a third of their students included the $35,550-a-year SCEGGS Redlands in Cremorne where 37 per cent of all students received assistance.
A spokesman said the school was inclusive of children with a disability but added the class of 2020 had a higher number of students with a disability than other year groups.
“On top of that, there were a number of physical injuries and unplanned surgeries that occurred in 2020,” he said.
Moriah College in Bondi Junction had 34 per cent of kids claiming disability status, Mosman’s Queenwood had 29 per cent, while the pricey Ascham School in Edgecliff in Sydney’s east had 29 per cent getting some sort of provision.
St Ignatius’ College at Lane Cove and Moriah College in Bondi Junction successfully claimed disability provisions for one-fifth of their students.
But they were also the most likely to have claims knocked back by the NSW Education Standards Authority. The schools each had more than 20 applications rejected last year.
Saint Ignatius’ College principal Paul Hine said families had become “increasingly aware of how the NSW Education Standards Authority can assist their children to access HSC exams on a level playing field”.
Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said teachers in the public sector were receiving further education about the assistance available to their students.
“We have also mandated that every single teacher in NSW must undertake professional learning to support students with disabilities.”