The Victorian Government made a commitment to establish Victoria as the Education State where every Victorian has an equal right to the knowledge and skills to shape their lives. 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 special needs.
The Special Needs Plan is part of this vision because every child deserves a great education to reach their full potential, especially those with special needs who already face additional challenges in their lives.
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.
Work is under way on each of the commitments in the Government's Special Needs Plan. These are significant commitments and we want to make sure we take the right amount of time to develop and implement the changes, to ensure we get the best outcomes for our children.
The first major step is a comprehensive review of the Program for Students with Disabilities.
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.
Committed to as part of the
Special Needs Plan for Victorian Schools, the Review report follows months of extensive research and analysis. This includes expert advice from an Advisory Panel and widespread consultation led by the former Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Dr Graeme Innes.
To improve the way the Victorian school system supports students with disabilities, the Review made 25 recommendations. The response to the Review commits to immediate action to implement 21 of the 25 recommendations as part of a new agenda for
Inclusive education for all students with disabilities and additional needs.
The four remaining recommendations will be carefully considered over the coming months, alongside the other significant reforms already underway including the Review of School Funding, the rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme and ongoing negotiations with the Commonwealth to fully fund the Gonski Agreement.
The Review and the Government's response is available online, 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.
Katandra School for winning the 2015 award for The Katandra Project. The team was awarded a professional development grant of up to $25,000.
In 2015 the remaining finalists were:
Applications for the 2016 Victorian Education Excellence Awards are now closed. Winners will be announced at a presentation ceremony on Friday 28 October, to coincide with Australia's celebration of World Teachers' Day.
For more information about the Outstanding Inclusive Education award, see:
Outstanding Inclusive Education Award
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.
The appointment is one of the nine initiatives of the Victorian government’s Special Needs Plan for Victorian Schools, which is making schools more inclusive for students with special needs.
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.
The Victorian Government has committed to increase the use of ABLES across the State as part of its Special Needs Plan to make schools more inclusive.
ABLES Experts are school and regional staff who are available to assist new users of ABLES. For more information, see:
Abilities Based Learning and Education Support.
Building teacher capability for inclusive education
Building teaching excellence through pre-service and in-service training is central to making schools more inclusive and improving outcomes for students with a disability.
As part of the Special Needs Plan, 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
As one of the initiatives in the Special Needs Plan, the Victorian Government committed that all newly built government schools and schools undertaking significant building projects, would accommodate the needs of students with disabilities and additional needs.
This is part of establishing Victoria as the Education State, where every child is given the best education they need for their future, no matter what their ability or background.
In delivering this commitment, significant changes have been made to how schools are planned and built to make sure they are inclusive:
Projects: the New Schools Public Private Partnership Project is delivering 15 outstanding examples of inclusive design in schools, underpinned by Universal Design Principles which aim to support education for all students, including students with disabilities.
Planning: the new
School Provision Planning Guidelines for Students with Disabilities (the Guidelines) will support regions and school communities to plan and prioritise investments for students with disabilities.
Building: the updated Building Quality Standards Handbook (the Handbook) will be used by architects and builders working on all government school building projects as a foundation of inclusive design.
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. New design principles for inclusive schools will ensure that schools are accessible, adaptable, simple and intuitive to use, for example by incorporating ramps, outdoor sensory gardens and quiet and supportive re-engagement spaces.
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
Early childhood development is at the heart of the Victorian Government’s vision for the Education State, which includes giving every child the best start to school.
As part of the Special Needs Plan, 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.
The enhanced English Online Interview will be available for Insight pilot schools to review through the
Insight Online Assessment Platform in the second half of 2016. All schools will be able to access the tools from Term 4, 2016 prior to the 2017 assessment period.
The English Online Interview sits within a suite of assessment tools and supports provided by the Department that together enable teachers to assess and monitor children’s learning in the early years of schooling.
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 Independent Panel for School Dispute Resolution (the Panel) being established.
Members of the Panel will receive serious, complex complaints that have not been resolved at a school or regional office level. The Panel will add new independence, expertise and timeliness to safeguard a fair system for all.
For more information on the Independent Panel, see:
Independent Panel for School Dispute Resolution
The vast majority of complaints will continue to be successfully resolved by schools and regional offices, which will receive additional support for complaints resolution. To lodge a complaint, see: