Starting primary school: planning your child’s supports

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Planning needs to begin many months before your child enrols at school, to ensure your child gets the right support and learning to meet their needs at school.

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Don’t be afraid to ask your chosen school for the information and meetings you need, to ensure your child has the right supports in place from day one.

You and your child’s kindergarten teacher ­– and any early childhood intervention or other professionals who know your child – have an important role in helping the school prepare to meet your child’s particular learning and support needs.

If your child is receiving support in kindergarten through a Kindergarten Inclusion Support (KIS) Package, you can receive additional support for the transition to school. Visit the DET website and search on ‘Sharing our Journey’ to find out more.

Meet early to start planning

After you have chosen a primary school (and the principal has confirmed your child’s place), the school needs you to meet with them again, to start planning your child’s supports. This should happen in March or April of the year prior to the year your child starts school. This is because applications for supplementary funding to support your child (e.g. through the Program for Students with Disabilities) are due around mid-year of the year prior, and the application processes can be lengthy. Schools also need time to prepare, especially if building modifications are needed.

Even if your child is unlikely to be eligible for supplementary funding, it is still important to meet early, to start planning your child’s supports and how the school will adjust their programs for your child’s particular needs.

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Funding applications

The principal will advise whether your child is likely to be eligible for supplementary funding. It’s helpful to learn about the application process before it begins, as the outcome will determine how much funding will be available to help the school support your child, and may even affect whether your child is eligible to attend a specialist school.

The principal is responsible for writing funding applications, but they will need you provide information to support the process, through meetings at school to discuss your child’s needs, and by taking your child to see doctors or specialists, to gather reports or undergo assessments that will support the application.

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Time to meet again

The school will need to meet with you again around September/October, to further plan your child’s supports, and to create a ‘transition plan’ for supporting your child in the transition from kindergarten to school. If the school applied for PSD or other funding, you will already have attended a Student Support Group meeting or similar; that group should meet again now. Otherwise, meet with the principal and any other staff they suggest.

You can suggest that the school also invite other professionals who know your child and can help support their transition to school, such as staff from kindergarten or childcare, therapists or case managers. Many early childhood intervention services have specialist teachers on staff; ask your key worker whether they can help. You can also bring your own support person to the meeting with you, if you like.

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More planning and the ‘Transition statement’

The meeting should continue planning your child’s supports for school. The principal should know the outcome of any funding applications by this time, and you can discuss how funds might be allocated. Unsuccessful applications can be appealed.

The meeting should also do substantial work on your child’s Individual Learning and Support Plan – the main tool that the school will use to document, plan and review your child’s education and support program. It should also discuss any other plans that your child might require, such as plans for behaviour support, personal care or complex medical care (see Education planning for your child for more information).

The school might well need to schedule additional meetings in the following months, to ensure the right supports are in place for your child from day one. In all meetings, you (as well as kindergarten staff and any other professionals attending who know your child) should share your knowledge of what helps your child to feel comfortable and to learn. This is critical information to ensure your child gets the support they need.

A key part of this will be your child’s ‘Transition learning and development statement’. This is prepared by the kindergarten, and contains information about your child’s learning and support needs, including their strengths, interests, areas needing support and useful strategies.

The statement has a family section where you can include information that you think will support your child’s transition to school. It also has an optional section for more information is your child has additional learning or development needs, a disability or a developmental delay. The kindergarten should discuss your child’s transition statement at the meeting with the school, ask for your input and send you a copy of the final document.

  • If your child is receiving support in kindergarten through a Kindergarten Inclusion Support (KIS) Package, you can receive additional support for the transition to school, including an information kit called Sharing our Journey. Visit the DET website and search on ‘Sharing our Journey’ to find out more.

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Planning to support the big move

The other main task for this meeting is to come up with a ‘transition plan’ – a plan for how everyone involved with your child can support them during the big move from kindergarten to primary school.

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