Knowing your child’s rights will help, if you have concerns about your child’s learning or supports, or their experiences at school.
On this page:
- Legal protection for your child’s rights
- Your child’s right to learning and support
- Behaviour issues and your child’s rights
- Your child’s right to a place at school
- Your right to complain
Understanding the laws and policies that underpin how schools and student support services work will also help you know what to expect from them, and what role you can play as a parent or carer.
This section explains the rights of students and their parents and carers in relation to some key issues. Visit the section Tools and resources to find pages that summarise and link to all of the key government policies and guides that support these rights.
Legal protection for your child’s rights
These pages give an overview of the laws and policies that support your child’s rights in education, as well as your rights and what you can expect, as a parent or carer.
You can find direct links to the relevant laws, policies and government guides in the Tools and resources section.
“I would say, become really aware of education department policy… I’ve discovered that schools actually don’t know or realise what policy says regarding students with disabilities. Many times, they are completely unaware. So if you can make yourself aware of it, print out and have a copy of the Disabiity Standards for Education.
When you go to meeting, and you’re not getting anywhere, you say ‘Oh, but I thought the Disability Standards’ – and you look through your document – ‘it says …’. I know that probably sounds so political. You need to be really calm and assertive, but know your stuff. So you know that what you’re asking for isn’t pie in the sky. This is what it says.” – Denise
Your child’s right to learning and support
The law and DET policy support your child’s right to have the opportunity to learn. That is, they support your child’s right have access to an education program that – as the Commonwealth Disability Standards for Education say – is ‘designed to develop their skills, knowledge and understanding, including relevant supplementary programs’.
To deliver this, schools are required to make what are called ‘reasonable adjustments’ to enable students with disabilities to participate in their programs ‘on the same basis’ as students without a disability. This might include adjustments to teaching approaches or the classroom, or access to student support services. In addition, all students have the right to learn, free from bullying and discrimination.
Some of your child’s adjustments might be supported by supplementary funding through the Victorian Government’s Program for Students with a Disability or its equivalent in the Catholic or independent schools systems. However, these programs do not define or limit the support that your child’s school should give them.
- Participation ‘on the same basis’ as other students
- ‘Reasonable adjustments’ and your child’s rights
- Learning, curriculum and teaching
- Reporting and assessment
- Student support services
- Bullying and discrimination
Behaviour issues and your child’s rights
This section explains how the Victorian government requires schools to deal with behaviour issues. Schools are required to focus on supporting positive behaviour. They must take into account the impacts of a student’s disability, and provide additional support if needed, which should be documented in a behaviour plan. This section also explains your child’s rights if they face suspension or expulsion, and your rights and role in the process as their parent or carer.
- Student engagement and discipline
- Challenging behaviour and school responses
- Restraint, seclusion, safety and your child’s rights
- Student attendance, suspension and expulsion
- Suspensions, expulsions and your child’s rights
Your child’s right to a place at school
Victorian government policy supports your child’s right to attend their designated local government mainstream or appropriate specialist school. There are also a wide variety of other schools and settings that you might be able to choose for your child. Many schools set their own enrolment criteria, but all must adhere to anti-discrimination laws and protect the rights of students and prospective students to access education on the same basis as other students.
- Visit the section ‘The right school for your child’ for information on choosing a school, your child’s right to a place at their designated local school, and rights in relation to other school choices.
Your right to complain
You have the right to raise a concern or make a formal complaint about any aspect of your child’s education.
- Visit the section A guide to the complaints process for an explanation of how the process should work.
- Visit Raising a concern with school for information and tips on how to effectively raise a concern or make a complaint about your child’s education, including the support you can get to do so.
- Visit Tips for dealing with common challenges, for tips from other parents and carers, and ACD support staff.