Education planning

acd resource icsr education planning main

Learn about education planning with the Student Support Group, developing Individual Learning Plans, and supports for children with a disability.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Where can I get information about the student’s learning strengths and needs?
  2. Where can I find information about specific disabilities?
  3. How do I approach teaching a child with a disability?
  4. How do I develop an Individual Learning Plan?
  5. How are goals set?
  6. How do I adapt the environment?
  7. How do I modify the curriculum?
  8. What about specific learning needs?
  9. How do I write a report for a child with a disability?
  10. How can I promote positive interactions to include students with a disability?

1. Where can I get information about the student’s learning strengths and needs?

The quickest way to start learning about the student is to tap into the knowledge of those who already know them. This can include previous teachers, education support staff (integration aides), parents, and other professionals.

If the student is entering prep, you will find important information in their Transition Learning and Development Statement, which is part of the Victorian Government initiative Transition: A Positive Start to School.

It outlines what to expect when participating in local transition-to-school programs and provides a shared understanding between early childhood services and schools about what is important for children and their families during this time.

The initiative also introduces a tool for families and educators to share information about a child’s learning and development in the form of a Transition Learning and Development Statement.

The DEECD Sharing Our Journey protocol is another tool to facilitate the transition to school for students who have received Kindergarten Inclusion Support Services in kindergarten.

You can begin to identify the student’s learning strengths and needs by reviewing any previous Individual Learning Plans (ILPs) and other reports. It is also important to spend time observing the student in your own classroom. You can then build on previous knowledge and effectively contribute to the next ILP. A regularly maintained ILP will help to ensure continuity from year to year.

A transition meeting is a good opportunity to talk with past teachers, education support staff and other relevant people. It is important to find out how subjects are being adapted or modified, particularly core subjects such as maths and English. You can also familiarise yourself with the student’s preferred form of communication and previous strategies.

Try to arrange a Student Support Group meeting early in the school year to clarify any issues and parent expectations. If the student is entering Prep, transition and information sharing should be guided by the DEECD Sharing Our Journey protocol.

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 2. Where can I find information about specific disabilities?

Parents are often a good starting point for information about their child’s disability.
Don’t assume that all children with a particular disability are the same. Even children with the same disability have different strengths and needs.

There are many disability-specific organisations that provide information such as the Down Syndrome Victoria, Cerebral Palsy Support Network and Autism Victoria.

The Raising Children Network Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder website includes information about autism spectrum disorders.

The Better Health Channel website includes general information about disabilities and medical conditions.

The Bar None Community Awareness Kit for Schools provides information and curriculum support for teachers to enhance their knowledge and understanding of disability.

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 3. How do I approach teaching a child with a disability?

Remember that the student is a child first, and the disability is secondary. Approach your teaching practice from this perspective and utilise the variety of skills and strategies you already have as a teacher.

Develop or review the existing Individual Learning Plan with the Student Support Group as soon as possible to set out learning goals and teaching strategies. Develop a learning profile of the student using a strength-based approach that expands on what the student can already do and focuses on progress.

Children with a disability may need assistance with certain tasks but it is important that they are active participants in their learning. Adults assisting children with physical and intellectual disabilities need to understand the importance of providing assistance without creating dependence. Parents can often share their insight about how their child progresses with certain tasks and this can help others to develop this understanding.

A positive approach towards including children with a disability can go a long way to determining whether a child is truly included in the school community. Your positive approach can also motivate and inspire confidence in other staff and students to do the same.

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 4. How do I develop an Individual Learning Plan?

There is no one-size-fits-all design or template for the perfect Individual Learning Plan (ILP). The plan will depend on the needs of the student and must be flexible enough to allow for changes.

Entry (or baseline) skills, goals and strategies should be addressed within the ILP for each learning area where the student requires additional support. Strategies should outline what will be done, by whom and when, what resources are required and how they will be used.

Information provided by professionals including psychologists and speech pathologists can be included in the ILP.

DEECD sample reports cards using an ILP can be adapted into an Individual Learning Plan template. The ILP should also identify any staff training needs and how these will be addressed.

An ILP should be easy to use and understood by all members of the educational team, and updated regularly.

Information for parents about ILPs is included in our Positive Education Planning resource.

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 5. How are goals set?

As the teacher, you have responsibility for setting goals in conjunction with the Student Support Group. Goals should be linked to the curriculum wherever possible.

Identify entry level skills through the school’s assessment processes and input from parents and other relevant people, such as the previous teacher or early childhood intervention specialist. This establishes the baseline from which to set goals.

Goals should be based on the progress that the student can reasonably expect to achieve rather than a comparison with students of the same age. Set goals that are realistic and achievable but challenging.

Goals must be measurable in order to monitor the student’s progress. Goals are more easily measured if they are linked to the AuSVELS key points and entry skills have been clearly established.

Goals should be reviewed to monitor and maintain progress, or modified as needed.

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 6. How do I adapt the environment?

Start planning early with the Student Support Group for any building modifications, such as ramps or accessible toilets, or the purchase of specialised aids or equipment.

Think through how you might set up the classroom to meet the needs of all the students in your class. This may include positioning of furniture, placing materials within a student’s reach, using signage, setting up a retreat area or clearing access ways. Consultation with an occupational therapist may also be useful.

The Teacher Information Booklet in the Bar None Community Awareness Kit for Schools includes some useful information regarding accessible and inclusive classrooms in the Communication section.

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 7. How do I modify the curriculum?

Teachers regularly make modifications to suit the range of their students’ abilities. Curriculum modifications for students with a disability may include modifying the quantity or complexity of the task, or allowing a student to complete the task in a different way from the rest of the class.

Tasks and materials should be age-appropriate, interesting and challenging. Understand the importance of providing assistance without creating dependence. Appropriate support is the minimum assistance required to ensure success.

Choose appropriate teaching strategies to suit the student within the context of the class. Strategies may include individual learning, group learning, peer and cross-age tutoring, and matching intensive teaching with the times of day when students learn best.

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 8. What about specific learning needs?

If the student has specific learning needs that relate to their disability, it may be useful to learn teaching strategies to address these needs.

Seek support from other teachers or specialists at school to learn and implement these strategies. Talk to the school about accessing professional development.

Autism

Autism Help website

Positive Partnerships: supporting school aged students on the autism spectrum project
Delivers two components of the Helping Children with Autism package being implemented by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR), including a training component for teachers. Interactive learning modules are available on several topics including an introduction to autism, bullying and sexuality.

Back to list of specific learning needs

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorders (ADHD)

British Columbia Ministry of Education Special Education website
Most of the strategies and modifications are appropriate to try in Australian schools despite some differences in support models.

Back to list of specific learning needs

Behaviour and learning difficulties

British Columbia Ministry of Education Special Education website
Most of the strategies and modifications are appropriate to try in Australian schools despite some differences in support models.

Back to list of specific learning needs

Chronic illness

Chronic Illness Alliance
Information on acquired brain injury, asthma, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, cystic fibrosis, diabetes, epilepsy, haemophilia, hepatitis C, slow transit constipation and thyroid conditions, including ‘school strategies’ applicable to each of conditions.

Back to list of specific learning needs

Communication and language difficulties

Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD) Language Support Program

Speech Pathology Australia website

Royal Children’s Hospital Speech Pathology website Includes a list of private speech pathologists.

Understanding Auditory Processing Disorders in Children article

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Developmental delay

Developmental delay: An information guide for parents

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Down syndrome

Down Syndrome Victoria

‘Learners with Down syndrome – A handbook for Teaching Professionals’. Down Syndrome Victoria also offers an Education Support Service

Back to list of specific learning needs

Hearing impairment

‘Are You Being Heard’ booklet’
Published by Deaf Children Australia and aimed at mainstream teachers of deaf and hard of hearing children of all ages.

Back to list of specific learning needs

Intellectual disabilities

British Columbia Ministry of Education Special Education website

Back to list of specific learning needs

Learning difficulties

SPELD Victoria

Dyslexia SPELD Foundation West Australia website

LD Online website

Back to list of specific learning needs

Physical disabilities

Cerebral palsy: An information guide for parents

SCOPE School Age Services

The Cerebral Palsy Education Centre
Runs workshops for educators working with children with physical disabilities in mainstream classrooms.

Back to list of specific learning needs

Vision impairment

Statewide Vision Resource Centre

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 9. How do I write a report for a child with a disability?

Individualised reports should be developed for students who have a modified curriculum that does not fit within the standardised A to E reporting framework. Many schools design individual reports around the Individual Learning Plan.

In some areas of the curriculum, student progress can be demonstrated by the inclusion of samples or portfolios with their report. Like the standard A to E report, individualised reports should also include detailed teacher comments.

Remember to celebrate achievements! While progress might be made in small steps, all successes and achievements are worthy of praise and celebration.

DEECD sample report cards are a good guide for writing reports for students with an ILP.

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 10. How can I promote positive interactions to include students with a disability?

Children in primary school are often very accepting of children with differences. Positive modelling by adults who have a good knowledge of disability can encourage positive attitudes in others.

The Bar None Community Awareness Kit for Schools includes a set of curriculum units and activities which aim to assist teachers to increase young people’s understanding of disability, increase knowledge, understanding and respect for diversity and difference, and to assist teachers and schools to create welcoming, inclusive classrooms.

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Parent story: Working together

Parent
Our son was diagnosed with autism at four years of age and this was a most devastating time for us. From then until now, our journey has been one of immense grief, loss and headache, as well as those moments when we celebrate his greatness as he overcomes all the odds stacked against him. There are many wonderful people who have entered our lives and they continue to support, guide and cherish him, as well as us, his family.

Following diagnosis, the magnitude of the issues caused by his autism became clear – repetitive language, poor social skills, being stressed by noise, crowds and bright lights, not to mention him becoming an absconding expert and not yet being fully toilet trained. It also became clear to us that a mainstream school was not an option. This was to be another time of loss and grief for us as his parents, but also for his older brother who had talked for so long about how it would be when they were at school together.

After much searching, we decided that the best option for our son was an autistic school. From the moment he went there until he left a year later, his achievements were celebrated and our family so supported and loved. No words can express the gratitude we have for the school and the wonderful staff for supporting and teaching our child with such care and love.

We had originally planned for him to go there for the full seven years, but after one year there the school encouraged us to consider a mainstream school. As the time drew closer for him to leave, his teacher went with me to the two schools that I was most interested in and we decided on a mainstream primary school that was best suited to our son’s needs.

He has been at a mainstream school for nearly two years now. It has been a journey not just for our son but for the whole team – the principal, assistant principal and student welfare officer, his teacher, education support staff and myself. My son’s inclusion at a mainstream school would not have been as successful without each person’s valuable contribution. Issues will always arise because of his autism but by working together and supporting one another we learn that in the end it is all about making his school experience as positive as it can be.

Parent

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Parent story: Working together – Teacher

I met this student almost two years ago when he entered my prep class. We were both new to the school, excited and a little nervous on our first day. His mother seemed anxious and came to see me about her concerns and expectations.

It was clear from this meeting that we needed to establish a network of people from which we could draw upon a range of experiences. We established a support group consisting of myself, the parent, integration co-ordinator, education support staff and occupational therapist. We also drew upon other agencies and resources as needed.

As the year progressed, so did the student, far exceeding our expectations. He began not only reading but understanding and interpreting texts. He also discovered a talent for working with numbers. Despite this excellent academic progress, he was having some social difficulties.

By this time though, we had learned not to put limitations on him. We felt that the fact he had autism should not prevent us from trying to teach him to socialise with his peer group. He was quickly achieving the learning outcomes we had set for him, so why not social skills?

Again, we set to work as a team, drawing on the skills and experiences of each member. Together, we created a social story and made an agreement to read it to him every day, both in class and at home. Persistence paid off and it wasn’t long before he began to make connections with his peers. He continues to make excellent academic progress, but it has been equally rewarding witnessing him develop his social skills. While working as a team has sometimes been difficult, it has also been very rewarding.

Seeing this student achieve and exceed his learning goals has been one of my most gratifying experiences as a teacher. I have come to realise the importance of not placing limitations on students. Also, and perhaps more significantly, I have learnt the importance of listening to and learning from others, acknowledging the different perspective each member brings to the support group.

Ultimately, we all have the student’s best interests at heart and their successes can be largely attributed to team effort.

Teacher

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Parent story: Working together – Education support staff

When I met this student two years ago, I had no previous experience of working with children but relied on my skills as a parent. I wasn’t sure if I would be capable of working with a child with autism, but after our first meeting I was looking forward to it. My time working with him has only reinforced for me that a caring and positive attitude goes a long way.

He was initially very reserved and unsure of his new and, at times, very noisy environment. He would sometimes hide to get away from it. The children in the class were very supportive of him and I remember one time when a child approached him and asked him to come out to play. The smile on his face was priceless. This was the beginning of a very special friendship.

His social skills have excelled over this time with the initial help of a social story and a great group of kids. Having autism, means that he does need time to himself and his friends are very understanding of this.

With the help of his peers, he has settled into prep extremely well. Working together with his mum and the classroom teacher has made his school life run that much smoother. He had good days and bad days, which we worked through together as a team. His progress throughout the first year was remarkable.

It is very fulfilling to know that I have contributed to the successful start of his school life. I do not see him as an ‘autistic person’ but as someone who has a great deal to offer his family, friends and the wider community. I will hold this experience of working with this student very close to my heart.

Education support staff

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