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NSW Syllabuses

Supporting students in Science with special education needs

The Science K–10 (incorporating Science and Technology K–6) recognises that students learn at different rates and in different ways. By using the teaching and learning cycle (assessing, planning, programming, implementing and evaluating), teachers can ensure that the individual learning needs of all students are considered and a learning environment is created that supports students to achieve the outcomes of the syllabus.

Teachers should undertake regular and ongoing assessment to ensure students are making sufficient progress and to identify any difficulties they may be experiencing in their learning.

The following figure illustrates one method of planning and programming that incorporates the principles of assessment:

Special Education Needs outcomes diagram

Most students with special education needs will access learning experiences based on the regular syllabus outcomes and content. However, they may require additional support, including adjustments to teaching, learning and assessment activities.

All decisions regarding curriculum options for students with special education needs should be made within the collaborative curriculum planning process.

When programming for students with special education needs, appropriate teaching procedures and strategies should be selected. Students who are experiencing difficulties generally benefit from:

  • new material presented in small steps
  • additional explanation
  • pre-teaching of expected prior knowledge, strategies and skills necessary for learning new related concepts
  • repeated modelling
  • guided practice
  • extensive independent practice
  • explicit teaching of learning strategies (cognitive and metacognitive strategies)
  • additional teaching and learning experiences at each phase of learning (acquisition, fluency, maintenance, generalisation)
  • instructional scaffolding.

In K–6, students undertake scientific inquiry (Working Scientifically) and technological problem-solving (Working Technologically) as they develop an understanding of Science and Technology.

The processes of Working Scientifically and Working Technologically are applied through regular, active participation in a range of collaborative and individual hands-on experiences. Find further information about the K-6 organisation of content in the Science K–10 (incorporating Science and Technology K–6) Syllabus.

In 7–10, the teaching of Science integrates knowledge and understanding content with the skills and processes of Working Scientifically.

As part of their practical experiences, all students are required to undertake at least one substantial research project during each of Stage 4 and Stage 5. Find further information about the 7–10 organisation of content, practical experiences and the student research project.

In particular, students with special education needs may require adjustments and assistance to access the knowledge, understanding and skills of Science and Technology K–6 and Science 7–10, such as:

  • classroom organisation to ensure appropriate viewing of demonstrations and resources
  • modifications and additions to equipment, eg adjustable height benches to accommodate wheelchairs, non-slip mats, equipment with large grips, computer simulations
  • additional assistance by peer or teacher’s aide when using equipment or for fieldwork
  • pre-teaching of essential terminology with multiple opportunities to use and comprehend terminology in the context of scientific texts
  • structuring the Student Research Project into smaller stages with regular guidance and feedback provided throughout (Years 7–10)
  • support through group work, paired or shared work
  • providing structural scaffolding of information by adding cues, highlighting specific sections or key words
  • sequencing the knowledge and skills from easy to more difficult where possible
  • explicit teaching of research techniques, such as using key words in online search engines, note taking and summarising
  • use of scaffolds to structure written responses.


For some students with special education needs, particularly those students with an intellectual disability, it may be determined that the Years 7–10 Life Skills outcomes and content can provide a more meaningful program.