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Teacher - Special Education

Year 12 Preferred University Course Subject Prerequisites Working With Children check

Also known as Special Education Teacher and Support Teacher.

Special education teachers develop and conduct learning programmes for preschool, primary and secondary students who have learning difficulties or an impairment in their physical, sensory, emotional or intellectual abilities.

Special education teachers may work in schools for children with special needs or in mainstream classrooms, either with groups of students or on an individual basis.

In mainstream schools, special education teachers are involved in the planning and implementation of programmes to enable students with disabilities to function successfully in a regular classroom setting.


    Some also teach students who are intellectually gifted. Special education teachers may perform the following tasks:

  • assess the abilities and potential of students requiring a specific study programme using a variety of tests and other forms of assessment
  • plan special courses of study to meet the needs of students
  • teach academic subjects and practical self-help skills using various methods and aids to assist in the education and rehabilitation process
  • develop and adapt the curriculum to make it relevant for students with disability
  • observe students to evaluate and record their progress and to detect signs of developmental disorders, ill health or emotional disturbance
  • work closely with other professionals, including guidance officers, speech therapists and psychologists
  • promote health and safety concepts and social interaction with other students
  • assist students with toileting, feeding and other personal matters (this may require lifting the students)
  • discuss aspects of students' development with parents and other educators
  • discuss the aims of the education programme as a whole with parents
  • participate in community activities and on school committees


  • dedicated, patient and tactful
  • able to relate easily to children
  • flexible and adaptable
  • able to motivate students to learn
  • able to communicate simply and clearly
  • understanding of people's special needs
  • prepared to work outside of school hours
Good Outlook
Good Outlook for this career!

Interest Area

Helping/Community Service Influencing/Personal Contact


Adult Literacy and Numeracy Teacher - specialises in teaching literacy and numeracy skills such as reading, writing and mathematics to adults with low literacy or other people with literacy or numeracy problems.


Year 12 Preferred University Course Subject Prerequisites Working With Children check

To become a special education teacher you usually have to complete a degree in education, specialising in special education. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your HSC/ACT Year 12. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English and mathematics are normally required. A number of universities in Australia offer degrees in education with a specialisation in special education.

Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information as requirements may change.

Alternatively, you can undertake a Graduate Diploma of Education, specialising in special education, after completing a degree in teaching or other relevant areas such as arts, social work or disability studies. Entry to postgraduate courses usually requires completion of an appropriate bachelor degree as well as teaching experience or experience working with people with special needs. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.

Additional Information

    Before undertaking practical placements required by courses, students will need to obtain a Working with Children Check (NSW) or a Working with Vulnerable People Check (ACT). A National Police Certificate may also be required. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information.

    Teaching in schools in NSW requires accreditation with the Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards (BOSTES). See www.nswteachers.nsw.edu.au for further information. Teaching in schools in the ACT requires registration with the ACT Teacher Quality Institute. See www.tqi.act.edu.au for further information.

    Teachers are required by mandatory reporting laws to report suspected cases of child abuse or neglect.


Special education teachers are employed by government and non- government schools, as well as some special centres. Some teachers with special education qualifications are able to work in private practice, offering tutorial services for children with learning problems.

Demand for special education teachers is dependent on levels of government funding.

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More Information - External Links

Job Outlook for Teacher - Special Education Education Directorate (ACT) NSW Teachers Federation teach.NSW Department of Education and Communities (NSW) NSW Working with Children Check Office of Regulatory Services (ACT)

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