Student Support Groups: an introduction

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The Student Support Group is the main way that everyone involved in supporting your child’s education comes together to discuss your child’s support and monitor their progress.

On this page:

What is a Student Support Group?

The Student Support Group (SSG) is a group of people who come together regularly, and form a co-operative partnership to plan, discuss and monitor a student’s learning and support program. An SSG is strongly recommended for any student with additional learning needs, whether or not they are eligible for support through the Program for Students with Disabilities (PSD). All students on the PSD must have a Student Support Group.

In Catholic and independent schools, the equivalent group is usually called the Program Support Group.

Your child’s SSG can discuss any aspect of your child’s learning and support program, including their academic needs, social inclusion or plans related to their safety, access, behavioural support, medical or personal care.

This page outlines how SSGs should work. Also see:

If your child has a disability or additional needs and does not have an SSG, you can ask the school to organise one.

  • For detailed information about the roles and responsibilities of SSGs, download the current Student Support Guidelines document from DET website.

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Who should be at your child’s SSG meetings?

Student Support Group meetings should include:

  • You as your child’s parent or carer
  • A ‘parent advocate’ or support person if you wish (see below)
  • Your child’s class teacher, or in secondary school their key contact teacher (such as their home room teacher or year level coordinator)
  • The principal or their nominee (often the assistant principal)
  • Your child (where appropriate)
  • Any specialists agreed by the group (sometimes called ‘consultants’ – see below).

You are always entitled to bring an advocate or support person with you to meetings with the school, including to SSG meetings. They can help in a variety ways. For example, depending on who the person is, they might be able to provide emotional support, help explain aspects of the support system to you, help you understand the language used by the school, help you to explain your point of view in language that the school can understand, and provide expert advice (depending on their professional background) about the needs of students with disabilities, and your child in particular. They cannot make decisions for you.

Any member of the SSG, including you, can suggest that other school staff or external professionals be invited to attend an SSG meeting, to provide expert advice on adjustments or supports that would benefit your child. This could include specialist DET staff (including autism consultants, speech therapists or educational psychologists), medical professionals or therapists or other professionals who work with your child and family.

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Supporting your child’s participation

As your child grows and matures, they might well be able to have much more of a say in planning their own learning and supports, and in raising issues that matter to them. There are processes to support this in many secondary schools, in particular, and you can consult with your child before and after attending SSG meetings.

Students are also entitled to come along to their SSG meetings. You can raise this with the other members of the SSG, and discuss whether your child could attend all or some meetings, or part of each meeting. Also consider when it might be appropriate for your child to attend other meetings with staff. This might more often be the case into the middle and later secondary years.

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A sharing of views and expertise

When they work well, Student Support Groups are a partnership to which every SSG member brings their unique perspective and expertise. As your child parent or carer, your insights into your child’s needs, strengths and experiences at school are very valuable. Don’t be afraid to speak up, share your opinions and ask questions.

Other SSG members offer other views and expertise and may offer different ideas about how to best meet your child’s learning and support needs. Every member of the group should listen to the ideas offered with an open mind.

Good communication and productive discussion between all members of the Student Support Group will help you come to a shared understanding of your child’s abilities and needs. This will help the group to put the right plans and resources in place to support your child.

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Organisation and documenting of SSG meetings

It is a good idea to hold an SSG meeting early in the year, and then at least once each term. It can sometimes be difficult to schedule SSG meetings; consider planning out meeting times for the year in advance. You can suggest when you think is a good time to hold an SSG meeting, or request an extra meeting if needed.

If your child’s school is some distance from home, or you find it hard to get to the school during school hours for other reasons, the school might be willing to have a phone discussion or a Skype meeting, rather than a face-to-face meeting.

There might be times when the group needs to meet more often than once per term – for example if there are changes in your child’s condition or their home situation, or if they are facing particular challenges at school.

The school is responsible for organising and recording the decisions made by the SSG. They should provide you with an agenda, preferably in advance, and document the discussion, particularly decisions made and actions agreed on. The record of the meeting should be sent to you and the other SSG members soon after the meeting. Meeting notes can also be recorded on the in-school Program for Students with Disabilities Management System (PSDMS).

Much of the discussion held in the SSG will also feed into your child’s Individual Learning and Support Plan, and any other plans needed to support your child’s personal care, medical care or behaviour.

For more information see:

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