What's happening in schools for primary students with learning difficulties?

Document Type

Journal Article


Australian Literacy Educators Association


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences


School of Education




Rohl, M., & Milton, M. (2002). What's happening in schools for primary students with learning difficulties in literacy and numeracy? A national survey. Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, The, 25(1), 25. Available here.


This article reports on a survey that investigated provision of support in primary schools for students with learning difficulties in literacy and numeracy. The respondents, who represented a stratified national sample of schools, were school principals or their nominees. Results indicated that most schools assessed reading comprehension, spelling, word recognition and numeracy. However, relatively few schools assessed oral language, even though most contained students who had been identified by specialists as having speech and language difficulties. Identification of students with learning difficulties usually took place in the early school years, with prevalence estimated at approximately 16% of the school population. The majority of schools conducted literacy support programs, which took a variety of forms, although only a minority conducted support programs in numeracy. Whilst teachers in many schools had taken part in some professional development in learning difficulties, approximately half of the schools did not have access to a specialist teacher with training in the area. Various areas of concern are identified by the survey, in particular the issue of equity of access to appropriate educational services for students with learning difficulties, and some implications for policy and practice are outlined.