The NCCD – meeting your compliance obligations

All schools across Australia are required to participate in the annual Nationally Consistent Collection of Data (NCCD) regarding students with disability. The compliance requirements regarding the provision of this data are very strict and can create significant administrative burdens for schools.

It is important for all schools to understand and meet the expectations of the scheme, particularly as NCCD administrators are performing more regular audits and inspections. Schools must take a number of steps to ensure data collected is accurate and meets the requirements of the scheme. A number of schools have faced criticism for failing to meet the strict standards of the scheme.

About the NCCD

The NCCD collects data regarding students who have been identified by a school as receiving an adjustment to address a disability as defined under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992. The purpose of the NCCD is to build a database of consistent and reliable information on a national basis that can be used to gain a more complete understanding of students who are receiving adjustments because of disability in schools so that funding can be more appropriately determined to ensure access to education for all.

Information collected by the NCCD relies on the professional judgement of teachers and school leaders about their students with disability and the scope of the adjustment received to access and participate in the designated education program alongside other students.

Importantly, the Disability Discrimination Act and the Disability Standards For Education 2005 apply to all school personnel. Therefore, it is incumbent upon Principals to ensure that all school personnel understand and apply their obligations to students with disability.

What Information is being collected?

The NCCD records the number of students receiving adjustments because of disability and the level of adjustment they receive. 

Teachers and educational leaders must use their professional judgement to determine:

  1. which students are being provided with an adjustment because of disability;
  2. the level of adjustment being provided with in the classroom and whole of school context;
  3.  the broad category of disability that the student best fits within.

Students are eligible to be included in the NCCD if:

  1. they meet the definition of a person with a disability within the Disability Discrimination Act 1992;
  2. the functional impact of the student’s disability results in the school actively addressing their individual education needs arising from their disability by providing adjustments; and
  3. there is evidence at the school that the student has been provided with an adjustment/s for a minimum period of 10 weeks of school education (excluding school holiday periods) in the previous 12 months.

Importantly, judgements made by teachers and school leaders about adjustments must be evidence based and formally documented. Schools are not required to create new or additional evidence for the purposes of the NCCD; this should already be standard practice to demonstrate compliance with legal obligations under the Disability Discrimination Act and Disability Standards For Education 2005.

Evidence can include:
  • records of consultation and collaboration with parents, guardians and carers in the course of determining and providing reasonable adjustments;
  •  the school’s observations and professional judgements; 
  • other relevant information, such as a medical or clinical diagnosis

The NCCD Guidelines

In order to meet expectations under the Disability Discrimination Act and the Disability Standards For Education 2005, schools should broadly follow an eight-step process.

1. Preparation

Preparing your school for the NCCD involves ensuring school personnel are adequately trained, developing and maintaining programs and systems for storage of evidence and data and notifying the school community of the NCCD and relevant considerations. 

2. Provide adjustments

Adjustment(s) for students must be made to meet ongoing, long-term specific needs directly related to their disability that has a functional impact on their schooling. Adjustments may be made with respect to teaching and learning practices, communication, participation, personal care and safety and movement. Schools must undertake detailed consideration and collaboration with respect to the relevant adjustments to ensure they meet the objectives of the Disability Discrimination Act and the Disability Standards For Education 2005.

3. Determine the level of adjustment There are 4 levels of adjustment in the NCCD:

1. Quality Differentiated Teaching Practice;
2. Supplementary;
3. Substantial;
4. Extensive.

Schools must ensure they carefully consider which level of adjustment appropriately and reasonably applies to each student based on documented evidence.

4. Determine the category of disability

The category of disability selected will be the area of disability that is the main focus of the adjustments being provided for the student to support their learning. This may change over time and, therefore, must be reviewed regularly to ensure the data is accurately maintained. Broadly, the categories of disability are physical, cognitive, sensory and social/emotional.

5. Record and retain evidence of adjustment

Maintaining appropriate records and evidence is the common area of concern for schools regarding NCCD. Where a student has been included in the NCCD, schools must ensure that they have sufficient documented evidence of adjustment(s) having been provided for the minimum 10 weeks during the 12 months preceding Census Day.

Each school’s evidence will reflect the individual student needs and the school’s learning and support processes and practices. Evidence must be collected for all aspects of the NCCD process and considerations including:

  • Assessment of the needs of the student;
  • Consultation and collaboration with relevant parties;
  • Provision of the adjustments for at least 10 weeks;
  • Ongoing monitoring and review of the adjustments.

Evidence must also be recorded that: 

  • supports a decision made that the student has a disability according to the definition in the Disability Discrimination Act;
  • suitable quality assurance measures exist to ensure that the NCCD reporting is accurate and meets the requirements of the Australian Government.

Evidence must be kept for 7 years.

6. Quality assurance

The quality and reliability of information gathered under the NCCD is critical. Schools should implement quality assurance processes to ensure accuracy and consistency in assessment of students for inclusion in the NCCD. To meet their obligations, schools and Principals must ensure that they perform internal moderation on their NCCD data, that systems used to capture and store NCCD data are robust and sufficient, and must review all data prior to submission to the NCCD.

Remember, Principals, as leaders of the school, are responsible for NCCD quality assurance.

7.  Approve the data

Before the submission of NCCD data, the school processes followed under the NCCD, DDA and the Standards and the evidence identified by the school team, must be approved by the appropriate person at the school.

8. Submit the data

Schools must submit their data through their educational authority (diocesan office). Your diocesan office will provide specific instructions to your school regarding the submission of NCCD data. These instructions should be followed carefully.

Helpfully, the NCCD publishes a set of guidelines to assist schools to navigate the requirements of the NCCD scheme.  The 2022 NCCD Guidelines can be access here.

How can Brennan Law Partners assist?

We recognise that meeting NCCD obligations can be an onerous undertaking. We can help you meet your obligations by reviewing and advising on your processes, assisting you to manage your evidence recording and use, providing training to your staff or leaders and providing guidance on the application of the Disability Discrimination Act and Disability Standards For Education 2005.

If you have any queries relating to this brief, or require assistance to respond to something happening at your school, please contact us.

This is meant as a guide only and should not be taken as legal advice.

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