Special Needs Plan

The Victorian Government’s commitment to establish Victoria as the Education State where every Victorian has an equal right to the knowledge and skills to shape their lives is being realised. Part of this work is to promote inclusive practices in schools so they can better support all children and young people, including those with disabilities and additional needs.

The Special Needs Plan is part of this vision because every child deserves a great education to reach their full potential. A fair and inclusive system will enable every child and young person to learn in a safe, positive and supportive environment in the setting best suited to their needs.

For information on how the Department is supporting students with disabilities and additional needs, see: Inclusive education for all students with disabilities and additional needs

The nine initiatives under the Special Needs Plan have now been delivered:

Program for Students with Disabilities Review

The Victorian Government has announced its response to the recommendations from the Review of the Program for Students with Disabilities (the Review), along with the publication of the Review's report. The response to the Review outlines how the Victorian Government will build on its commitment to inclusive education as part of the Education State, by spreading excellence in inclusive practices across Victorian schools and giving every student the best chance to succeed.

For more information on the Review and the Government's response, see: Inclusive education for all students with disabilities and additional needs

An Outstanding Inclusive Education Award

The Victorian Education Excellence Awards is an employee recognition program that demonstrates excellence in Victorian government schools and showcases the outstanding contributions made by teachers, principals, business managers and education support staff every day.

As part of the Special Needs Plan, in 2015 the Victorian Government introduced a new award category, Outstanding Inclusive Education. The award is an opportunity for government school teachers and support staff to tell us how you and your team have demonstrated outstanding ability in improving the achievement, engagement and wellbeing of students with disabilities and additional needs.

For more information about the awards, see: Victorian Education Excellence Awards 

New partnership with the Senior Practitioner (Disability) 

The Department has appointed a Principal Practice Leader (Education), reporting to the Senior Practitioner, to work exclusively with the Department and schools to improve the management of challenging behaviours in government schools and to provide advice and foster best practice for supporting children with behaviours of concern.

For more information about the Principal Practice Leader, see: Principal Practice Leader (Education)

Inclusive Schools Fund

In 2016 the Government announced an additional $10 million investment into the Inclusive Schools Fund (the Fund), bringing the total investment to $20 million over the next four years. The Fund was established to help government schools better support the social and educational needs of children with a disability.

Guidelines for the Fund have been updated for round two and outline the types of projects that could be funded at existing schools, to make schools more inclusive for all students.

For more information about the Inclusive Schools Fund, see: Inclusive Schools Fund

Abilities Based Learning and Education Support (ABLES)

A highly-effective and unique curriculum, assessment and reporting program that helps teachers personalise learning programs for students who have a disability, is being expanded across Victoria.

For more information, see: Abilities Based Learning and Education Support

Building teacher capability for inclusive education 

The government is committed to supporting all teachers in Victoria to engage in professional learning activities to improve the quality of teaching in every classroom for students with disabilities.

To achieve this, teachers will be required to engage in relevant professional learning activities in preparation for renewal of registration with the Victorian Institute of Teaching in September 2016 and in each year after that. The next generation of teachers will also be prepared to teach in inclusive education settings by completing training on teaching students with disabilities as part of their tertiary studies.

These new requirements apply to all Victorian teachers in government, Catholic and independent schools and early childhood settings.

For more information, see: Building teacher capability for inclusive education

Planning and building inclusive new schools

The Victorian Government has committed that all newly built government schools and schools undertaking significant building projects, will accommodate the needs of students with disabilities and additional needs.

The new Guidelines and updated Handbook are both informed by the approach to inclusive design being delivered through the New Schools Public Private Partnership Project. The Guidelines and Handbook combined will ensure that all schools are planned, built and modernised to be inclusive in the future.

For more information, see: Planning and building inclusive new schools

For more information on the partnership see New schools public private partnership project

To view the new School Provision Planning Guidelines for Students with Disabilities and the updated Building Quality Standards Handbook see: Inclusive new schools

Early years screening to give every child the best start

The Government committed to strengthening early years screening for learning difficulties, to support teachers to meet the learning needs of all students and provide inclusive education.

Each year, teachers in government primary schools are required to assess every Prep child’s literacy abilities using the English Online Interview assessment tool. The Victorian Government commissioned the University of Melbourne and Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) to review the tool. The review identified areas for improvement to reflect the latest research on child development, including how oral language development can indicate future learning difficulties. As a result, the speaking and listening components of the English Online Interview are now being enhanced, and supporting resources are being developed to provide information for teachers on additional assessment options and further steps in the screening process to recognise learning difficulties, such as dyslexia.

In 2016, the enhanced English Online Interview was made available for Insight pilot schools to review through the: Insight Online Assessment Platform

All schools now have access to the tools.

For more information, see: Early Years Screening

Improving the process for school dispute resolution

Expanding support for complaints resolution at the school and regional level will ensure Victorian government schools remain at the forefront of parent engagement and inclusive communities. As part of the Special Needs Plan, an investigation into a Schools Commissioner has led to the introduction of a new Responsive School Complaints Framework, and an Independent Office for School Dispute Resolution (the Independent Office) being established.

The Independent Office will receive complex complaints that have not been resolved at a school or Department level. The Office will add new independence, expertise and timeliness to safeguard a fair system for all.

For more information on the Independent Office, see: Independent Office for School Dispute Resolution

The vast majority of complaints will continue to be successfully resolved by schools, regional offices and the central office, which are receiving additional support for complaints resolution. To lodge a complaint, see: Complaints