This page outlines examples of just some of the ways that your child’s school can meet their leaning and support needs.
On this page:
- Tailoring the teaching approach
- Modifying the curriculum and classroom tasks
- Adjusting the physical environment
- Supporting your child’s communication, access and care
- Providing access to therapists and consultants
- Supporting social development and inclusion
- Supporting positive student behaviour
Schools can make many different kinds of adjustments to meet your child’s needs, in many different areas. For example, adjustments can be aimed at supporting your child:
- academic progress
- personal or medical care needs
- participation in school activities
- physical development and therapy, or
- social learning and inclusion.
These are offered only as examples, to demonstrate some of the many ways in which schools can make adjustments to meet the learning and support needs of students with disabilities. New approaches to supporting diverse learners are being developed all the time. Your input and ideas are also of great value, as the person who knows your child best; you should feel confident to offer them through the SSG and in communication with your child’s teachers.
- More examples are given throughout Learning Together, including in Choosing a school and A guide to supports for students. See also the other pages related to adjustments in this section.
- Visit the section Education and your child’s rights for information about schools legal obligations to support your child’s access and participation at school, make adjustments to the curriculum, environment, assessment and teaching approaches, provide support services and address bullying and behaviour management.
Tailoring the teaching approach
To give just two small examples, the teacher can break information into smaller, more understandable ‘chunks’, or ask your child to research using online picture searches rather than in the library. Teachers can choose a range of teaching strategies to suit the students in their class, including individual learning, group learning, peer and cross-age tutoring, and matching intensive teaching with the times of day when students learn best. Teachers can write down instructions rather than giving them verbally, and ask a series of questions to test knowledge, rather than requiring an essay from your child. Teachers can choose different resources to suit different learning preferences. For example, resources for learning maths may include counting blocks, activity sheets, a computer program or the student’s favourite toys.
Modifying the curriculum and classroom tasks
The classroom and all specialist teachers (for example in art, music, sport or drama) should be able to modify tasks so that all students in the class can participate. This can be done by modifying the quantity or complexity of the task, by allowing a student to complete the task in a different way from the rest of the class, or by giving a student more time to complete a task.
For example, a literacy task might be to write three sentences about the weekend’s activities. A student with a disability might be expected to write one sentence with an illustration. They could do this using a communication device, by dictating and then copying a sentence or by using a computer.
Tasks and materials should always be age-appropriate, and ideally engage a student’s interests. For example, a 10-year-old might be more likely to engage with reading material about football or space, than they would be to engage with a story about teddy bears that was selected because it is at their reading level.
Adjusting the physical environment
For example, the teacher can provide a visual timetable, so your child knows what is coming up. They can re-arrange the classroom, for example if your child needs to sit closer to the front due to difficulties with hearing, sight or concentration. They can create a ‘quiet corner’ or allow your child to take a ‘movement break’ in the playground, for example if your child needs time away from the noise or activity of the classroom from time to time, or finds it difficult to sit relatively still for long periods.
Your child might also be provided with a specialized desk or chair, or other type of equipment that supports their physical development. Schools can also access funding to make school buildings and facilities accessible to students with a disability.
Supporting your child’s communication, access and care
Your child can have access to assistive technologies such as a communication aid or equipment for students with sight impairments. Teaching and education support staff can be given training to learn how to use such aids successfully, and how to communicate with your child if they use sign language. Auslan interpreters, note-takers and other assistants can be provided.
Staff can do training and become familiar with support plans for your child’s personal or medical care. A private area can be created within the classroom or elsewhere at school, where your child can be cared for safely and privately.
Providing access to therapists and consultants
Therapists and consultants, such as speech pathologists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, and psychologists, can make an important contribution to your child’s education. They can work directly with the child, teacher, education support worker and school to give advice on modifications to the environment and curriculum. They may also be able to assist with support plans for personal care, behaviour support or safety. You can access therapists and consultants through the regional DET office, the school (in some specialist settings) or through disability support agencies.
- Read more about DET specialist staff and getting input from therapists and other specialists.
- Find therapists and other specialists in our Through the Maze resource, your guide to the disability support sector.
Supporting social development and inclusion
Teachers have access to many tools and strategies to encourage all students to communicate effectively, and to teach them the social skills they need to include each other well in play and in learning. This social learning is critical for all students in schools. The DET website outlines frameworks and provides resources to teachers for preventing bullying, and for helping students to learn the skills to resolve conflicts. Many schools also provide supervised or organized activities that can be very helpful to students who find unstructured time at recess and lunch stressful.
- Organisations like Amaze and Positive Partnerships, and resources available through the DET Autism Friendly Schools program provide excellent support and resources that can help schools better support all of their students to learn how to get along and be more inclusive, not only those with Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Supporting positive student behaviour
Schools have a responsibility to support students to behave appropriately. There are many ways that school can help students who have difficulty managing classroom routines or understanding instruction or expectations from staff. For example, some students respond well to social stories or visual reminders about ‘what comes next’, such as visual timetables. The Student Support Group can develop a Behaviour Support Plan and convey that to teachers and other staff who have regular contact with your child, so that everyone is consistent in the support their approach.
There are many professionals who have expertise in how to support children and young people to develop appropriate behaviour. Your child’s SSG can request input from a suitably qualified professional, such as a DET Student Support Services Officer, to develop a behaviour management and development plan to assist your child.
DET policy is that school approaches to student behaviour and discipline should focus on encouraging and supporting positive student behaviour, rather than being punitive. Its important to understand your child’s rights and how the Victorian government expects schools to respond, if the school says your child is having behaviour issues.
- Find out more about how schools should respond to challenging student behaviour.