Mainstream vs special

Should my child be in a mainstream school or a special needs school

Finding the right school for your child is a very important decision for any parent. If your child has special needs, is on the autism spectrum or has learning difficulties, parents are often confronted with the choice between a mainstream school and a special needs school. This can be a hard decision that really needs to be tailored towards your child, to assist we have compiled a list below of the advantages of each.

Special Needs School Pros

  • Teachers are specifically trained to teach students with special needs, autism and other sensory impairments
  • Programs and curriculum are designed to accommodate students, with individual targets
  • Facilities, technology and buildings are tailored for people with disabilities to make sure they get the best educational experience.
  • Children’s peer groups are similar, so feel more included
  • Class sizes are smaller, so more potential for individual attention


Mainstream Pros

  • Opportunity to engage with neurotypical children
  • Public schools offer free education so this can be a good alternative for those with financial constraints
  • Interaction in a mainstream classroom environment provides valuable socialisation skills
  • The interaction with their mainstream peers and teachers, prepares the students for life beyond school



Some children have the potential to go to mainstream school but may need assistance in gaining some skills before transitioning. A number of special needs schools, like St Lucy’s offer programs to assist children in their transition to mainstream school.

St Lucy’s is a special primary school and high school for children with disabilities located in Wahroonga on Sydney’s North Shore. We specialize in a wide range of disabilities including mild to severe intellectual disability, autism and other sensory impairments. We work with our parents in setting achievable goals our students, we will work with you as a team and report how your child is going against their goals.

If you are trying to decide between a mainstream and specialised school, why don’t you come in and take a tour or attend one of our open days and we can discuss schooling options with your child in mind. Visit our open day page for more information.

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