The Student Support Group is the main vehicle for ensuring your child gets the right support at school. Its focus should go well beyond your child’s academic needs.
On this page:
- A forum for discussion and coordination
- Support and reflection throughout your child’s journey
- It’s about more than academic support
- Putting the plan into action
- Information-sharing and referral
A forum for discussion and coordination
Student Support Group meetings are the main forum for discussion, planning and review of your child’s learning and support program. School based members of the SSG are also responsible for coordinating input from other staff and specialists involved with your child, and communicating the plan to your child’s teachers and support staff. This overall process of consultation planning, action and review is called ‘Personalised Learning and Support Planning’. It is coordinated by the SSG.
In summary, your child’s Student Support Group is responsible for:
- Identifying your child’s needs and current skill level
- deciding on adjustments (for example to the curriculum or the environment) that are needed
- developing your child’s Individual Learning and Support Plan
- developing other plans needed to support your child’s non-academic needs (see below)
- discussing your child’s plans with teachers and other staff
- providing support to put your child’s plan into practice
- advising the principal about your child’s needs and the resources required to meet them, and
- reviewing and evaluating your child’s progress and program – once per term, or more often as needed, and adjusting the supports as required.
“I touch base with the school once every semester, with the Parent Support Group teacher, his aide and his teacher. We have a little round-the-table meeting about where he’s at, and any issues that he has. Often they’re just social issues. Not usually academic issues any more. Whatever is happening at the time.
When I’m dealing with people, I try and deal with them in the most positive way possible, and sometimes they don’t see solutions for him. I try and go in there with a couple of solutions, if there’s a problem. [For example] my son started to pull out his hair, which was a nervous anxiety condition. And I’d actually had that condition as a child, so I brought my own experience in, and I wrote a brochure about the condition, gave it to the school, and suggested giving him a necklace that felt a bit hairy – something that he could play with, to stop him from pulling out his eyelashes and hair.
They didn’t know about the condition, and they were really grateful, because many children suffer from hair-pulling and similar types of nervous condition. So it just made the teachers all aware, and the principal was really supportive.” – Janet
Support and reflection throughout your child’s journey
Your child’s SSG is a critical support to you and your child throughout their time at school. It’s a good idea to build in ways for the SSG to regularly reflect on that journey, and also to reflect on how well the SSG itself is working.
Consider building in an annual reflection (perhaps in the first or last meeting of each year) on what has worked in the past 12 months, and what could be improved. This is in addition to the core work of reviewing and evaluating your child’s progress, and planning for the upcoming year.
The discussion might cover issues like:
- communication between SSG members in between meetings
- meeting organisation and agenda-setting
- taking and distribution of minutes and follow-up on agreed actions
- communicating SSG decisions to other teachers and staff
- what is covered by your child’s plan, and what could be included
- any other issues that arose in the past 12 months.
SSG meetings are also an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate your child’s progress. Positive feedback lets the SSG know what is working well, and contributes to the group’s understanding of your child as a learner.
The SSG also plays a central role in planning, implementing and monitoring during critical transition times: from kindergarten to primary school, from primary to secondary school, and from secondary school into whatever post-school pathway your child might take, whether further study, training, employment or a community placement.
It’s about more than academic support
A key and early task of your child’s SSG is developing your child’s plan to address your child’s Individual Learning and Support Plan, connecting it to the school curriculum. This work should begin during the planning before your child starts at the school, and be the main focus of their first SSG meeting after school starting school.
However, the focus of your child’s SSG should not be limited to their academic needs. The group should also discuss strategies to support all your child’s needs at school – including in relation to medical or personal care, safety, social inclusion and social learning, access to school facilities, and behaviour.
- Find out more about support for your child’s personal or medical care needs, including programs such as SchoolCare for students with complex medical needs.
If your child has significant needs related to their personal or medical care, safety or behaviour, their main Individual Learning and Support Plan should be supported by additional written plans for those areas.
Putting the plan into action
The SSG should identify what funded resources are needed to support your child’s plan, and make recommendations to the principal about those resources. The principal is responsible for any decisions that affect funding.
The school-based members of your child’s SSG are also responsible for communicating the plan to all relevant staff and support services, so the plan can be put into action, and everyone involved can take a consistent approach.
The SSG should then meet regularly – at least once per term – and monitor your child’s progress and needs against the plan. The SSG should discuss any adjustments needed and update the plan as they go.
- Find out more about the supports and resources available to students with disabilities
- Your child’s strengths and learning goals
- Resources to support planning, assessment and adjustments to the curriculum
Information-sharing and referral
It is the school’s responsibility to make sure that information about your child is communicated to relevant staff and service providers, in and outside the school. Your child’s plan might include strategies to be undertaken by:
- you at home
- your child’s teachers and student support staff
- other school staff (such as an integration coordinator, or therapist in a specialist school)
- specialists such as an SSSO staff member from the regional DET office (such as a speech therapist, autism consultant or educational psychologist) or a private therapist or other service provider involved with your child and family (such as an occupational therapist, physiotherapist or case manager).
The SSG is a good forum to decide how this will happen, and for the school to seek your written permission to share information about your child, or to make referrals to any external service. It’s a good idea for you to keep a written record who, when and for what purpose you give this permission.
There may be some aspects of your child’s personal or medical care (for example) that only need to be communicated to those people directly involved. Your family and child’s right to privacy must be respected at all times. Good planning will identify who needs to know what and how this can be communicated.
- Find out more about your child’s and family’s right to confidentiality and privacy.