Victorian government policy states that your child has the right to attend the nearest specialist school for which they are eligible.
On this page:
- What can specialist schools offer?
- Specialist or ‘sattelite’ units within mainstream schools
- For students with an intellectual disability
- For Deaf and hearing impaired students
- For Blind or vision impaired students
- For students with a physical disability and/or significant health impairment
- Specialist schools for students with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
- Select Entry Accelerated Learning
What can specialist schools offer?
There are more than 80 government specialist schools in Victoria, including specialist schools for students with mild, moderate and profound intellectual disabilities, for Deaf and hearing impaired students, for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder and for students with a physical disability. There are also specialist units within some mainstream government schools.
Students with multiple disabilities may be eligible to attend a number of different types of specialist schools. If your child has multiple disabilities, discuss this with the schools that interest you and with the professionals who know your child, to guide your decision about the best available option.
Class sizes at specialist schools are smaller than at mainstream schools, and there is a much lower ratio of teaching and support staff to students. Some specialist schools also have therapists on staff. Specialist schools generally already have an accessible environment and curriculum for their student population; this may mean that there are limited subjects on offer.
Students who live within the specialist school’s designated transport area are eligible for travel support to that school (usually a school bus).
You can apply for a place in any specialist school that is not the designated school for your child. Approach the school directly to discuss your request. You might be able to get a place for your child, if there are places available. However, you will not be eligible for travel support to the school unless you move to live within its zone.
- Find contacts for all Victorian schools on the Australian Schools Directory, where you can search by special needs.
“Sam had a very positive experience during his primary years. He went to our local kindergarten and then our local government school. He really enjoyed school, being included in all the facets of school life. He ran the sprints on athletics day, took part in the annual swimming carnivals, performed on stage with all his classmates during the annual school concerts and went on all the school camps. Of course, he did his schoolwork as well but, “That’s boring, Mum!”
I wanted to make sure that this positive experience would continue to be the common denominator throughout his secondary schooling. After looking at all our options, we decided, or rather Sam decided, that he really liked the special school. As Sam’s parents, we first toured the school, met with the assistant principal and generally got a feel for the school environment. It just felt good!
Next, we made another appointment so we could take Sam through with us and see what he thought. We walked around the school, saw some classes in session and Sam was blown away when he recognised some of the students from one of his weekend sporting groups. When I asked him what he thought of the school, he said, “Perfect Mum!” – Parent of a student at a specialist secondary school
Specialist or ‘sattelite’ units within mainstream schools
A number of mainstream government schools include specialist education units, including many Deaf education units, and others with satellite specialist units or programs for students with a range of other needs. These provide students with a mix of inclusion in mainstream classrooms, along with specialist programs, facilities and activities, and support from specialist school staff.
- Find out which schools have specialist units or programs – and their enrolment criteria – from your local DET regional office.
For students with an intellectual disability
There are a many specialist schools for students with an intellectual disability across Victoria. The two main types are generally known as:
- ‘special schools’, for students with a mild intellectual disability
- ‘special development schools’, for students with a moderate to severe intellectual disability.
There are also some schools that take students with intellectual disabilities across the full range. The terms ‘special school’ and ‘special development school’ are used differently in some regions, so check the criteria for any school you are interested in.
- Search on the Australian Schools Directory, visit school websites or contact schools directly, or contact your local DET regional office to find out about schools in your area,
- Assessment for enrolment in a government specialist school.
For Deaf and hearing impaired students
There are three Victorian specialist government schools for eligible students who are Deaf or hearing impaired:
Aurora School (Blackburn South, primary)
Furlong Park School for Deaf Children (Sunshine, primary)
Victorian College for the Deaf (Melbourne, prep to year 12)
There are also 19 mainstream schools across Victoria that include a specialist Deaf education unit. For more information about support provided to Deaf and hard of hearing students, visit education.vic.gov.au, and search on ‘Deaf education’.
For Blind or vision impaired students
There are no government specialist schools for students who are Blind or vision-impaired, but a range of supports are available to schools, including the Statewide Vision Resource Centre and Visiting Teachers. Contact your DET regional office for more information. There is one primary specialist independent school for Blind and vision-impaired students.
For students with a physical disability and/or significant health impairment
There are four Victorian specialist government schools for students (all for students just starting school up to age 18) who have physical disabilities and/or significant health impairment. All support students with multiple disabilities.
Belmore School (Balwyn)
Glenallen School (Glen Waverley)
Glenroy Specialist School (Glenroy)
Nepean School (Seaford)
Specialist schools for students with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
There are five specialist schools for students with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. These schools can also provide specialist outreach services and support to other schools with students who have an ASD.
Bulleen Heights School (Bulleen)
Prep to year 12.
Northern School for Autism (Preston and Reservoir)
Transitioning from prep to year 6 to become prep to year 12.
Jacana School for Autism (Jacana)
Primary and secondary.
Eastern Ranges School (Ferntree Gully)
Prep to year 7.
Wantirna Heights School (Wantirna)
Currently prep to year 6, but will transition to become prep to year 12.
Southern Autistic School (East Bentleigh)
Also transitioning from prep to year 6 to become prep to year 12.
Western Autistic School (Laverton)
Prep to year 3 onsite and provision for prep to year 12 base rooms and outreach programs.
Jennings Street School (Laverton)
Newly-established specialist school for students with ASD. Information currently found at causes.com/autismschoolsoonest.
Select Entry Accelerated Learning
Some government secondary schools offer Select Entry Accelerated Learning (SEAL) to students capable of working at a faster pace than their peers. Work in core subjects is accelerated for SEAL students, allowing them to complete Years 7 to 10 in three years and do more VCE subjects.
Entrance exams are usually held in May of the year before your child’s Year 7 placement.