Special Assistance Schools serve young people who are disengaged from education and whose needs are not met by mainstream schools or education services.

Special Assistance Schools provide alternative educational settings for students with high-level social and emotional needs and cater for students who are at risk, have behavioural difficulties, or whose needs are better met by flexible learning structures that may not be available in all mainstream schools.

Special Assistance Schools make an important contribution to addressing educational disadvantage by generally serving young people who are disengaged from mainstream education. Students are often referred from community services, juvenile justice and other schools – both government and non-government. Special Assistance Schools have developed programs and structures designed to re-engage students in education and prepare them for further training and employment.

Since 2014, the number of Special Assistance Schools has almost doubled and enrolments in Special Assistance Schools has almost tripled. There were 48 schools in 2014 and 96 schools in 2022.

The growth is particularly notable since 2014, the year the reforms to school funding were introduced following the Review of Funding for Schooling, led by David Gonski. Under these reforms increased needs-based funding was made available to support this vulnerable group of students.

Special Assistance Schools within the Independent sector, 2013-2022

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