Published by the Department of Education and Training, Melbourne, April 2016
© State of Victoria (Department of Education and Training) 2016
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The School Provision Planning Guidelines for Students with Disabilities support provision planners to forecast future capacity needs and to develop and prioritise fit-for-purpose provision for students with disabilities. The Guidelines intend to promote inclusive practices in schools and improve learning outcomes for students with disabilities by strengthening inclusive provision in government schools. The Guidelines also set out the resources available to assist regions and school communities throughout the planning process.
The Department of Education & Training (DET) undertakes detailed analysis and evaluation of proposed new school projects and upgrades to identify those required in future years. These projects are prioritised for consideration in the annual State Budget process to provide a targeted package of school capital investments which responds to the growing demand for school services across Victoria.
The purpose of the Guidelines is to:
- Support provision planners and schools to make investment decisions which meet the needs of students with disabilities.
- Rebalance provision planning towards inclusive education approaches which provide more opportunities for students with disabilities to attend a mainstream school in their local area.
- Introduce the Guiding Design Principles for Inclusive Schools to ensure government schools are usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without requiring adaptation or specialised design.
- Inform the Department's school capital pipeline planning process.
The Guidelines apply to new and green field developments, established areas, upgrades to existing school infrastructure, and prioritisation and funding decisions for existing projects within the Department's capital pipeline.
Structure of this document
The Guidelines are structured in two parts so that users can easily locate the content most relevant to them. The two parts are outlined below:
Part A: Provision Policy and Facilities Design
- Context, including key legislation and policy commitments.
- Overview of the Government's policy position and the implications for provision planning.
- Description of the suite of provision models available to meet the needs of students with disabilities.
- Guiding Design Principles for Inclusive Schools.
Part B: A Step-by-Step Guide to Provision Planning for Students with Disabilities
- Overview for the provision planning process.
- Provision planning Gateways which ensure a consistent and robust approach to provision planning.
When applying the Guidelines, users should be aware of other policy and regulatory requirements. The Guidelines should also be read in conjunction with the documents set out in Appendix 1.
The last thirty years have seen significant changes in community expectations about the rights of, and aspirations for, people with disabilities. There has been a growing emphasis on human rights and civil liberties; the introduction of high level national and state policy frameworks that set out these rights; the responsibilities and commitments of government; and a shift toward inclusion as the pre-eminent paradigm guiding education service provision for students with disabilities.
Education provision policy has moved away from providing access on a case-by-case basis for children with disabilities, to an expectation of participation and achievement for all students with disabilities on the same basis as their peers. The Government's Special Needs Plan for Victorian Schools commits to making schools more inclusive by increasing the capacity of schools to support students with special needs. In line with this policy commitment, the Department will prioritise investments that provide more opportunities for students with disabilities to attend a mainstream school in their local area.
Summary of key legislation and policy commitments
State and national legislation, conventions and policies commit to ensuring that learners with disabilities are given an opportunity to access and participate in their education on the same basis as their peers (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Key legislation and policies
- Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA).
- Disability Standards for Education 2005 - subsidiary legislation made under the DDA.
Education Training Reform Act 2006 - makes provision for equal access to education for students with disabilities.
Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2005.
Equal Opportunity Act 2010 - positive responsibility for schools to prevent discrimination.
STATE GOVERNMENT POLICY
- The Victorian State Disability Plan 2013-2016 - promotes an inclusive Victorian society that enables people with a disability, their families and carers to fulfil their potential as equal citizens.
- The Education State - states that every Victorian has an equal right to the knowledge and skills to shape their lives, regardless of their background, their personal circumstances or where they live.
- The Special Needs Plan for Victorian Schools - builds on previous reform to deliver inclusive education and improve outcomes for students with disabilities.
- Framework for Improving Student Outcomes - helps schools to identify, implement and monitor effective school improvement priorities, strategies and initiatives so that every child can achieve their potential.
- Program for Students with Disabilities - Guidelines for Schools 2016 provides resources to support students with disabilities who have moderate to severe needs.
- Principles for Health and Wellbeing - outlines the fundamentals of effective professional practice across the education system, and facilitates the coordination of health and wellbeing activity and service planning.
Under section 32 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, Victorian government schools must comply with the Disability Standards for Education 2005. The Disability Standards for Education set standards for education and training providers, including Victorian government schools. To comply with the Standards, education providers must make 'reasonable adjustments' to accommodate a student with a disability.
In Victoria, the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 recognises that every student has the right to attend his or her designated neighbourhood government school, subject to eligibility requirements.1 In addition, the Victorian Government's Special Needs Plan for Victorian Schools2 commits to making schools more inclusive. The Government requires all newly built government schools - or schools undertaking planning works - to provide facilities that accommodate the diverse needs of students. Box 1 provides an overview of inclusive education.
Box 1: What is inclusive education?
Inclusive schools recognise and respond to the diverse needs of their students, accommodating both different styles and rates of learning and ensuring quality education to all through appropriate curricula, organisational arrangements, teaching strategies, resource use and partnerships with their communities.
Research undertaken by the Department found that families typically prefer an inclusive model of education provision for their child within their neighbourhood. Inclusive provision models describe the range of settings in which students with disabilities or additional learning needs are educated, with graduated levels of support according to need.
Increasing the inclusivity and accessibility of mainstream schools can bring a myriad of benefits. The inclusive approach increases diversity in mainstream schools and provides an alternative to stand-alone specialist schools, which increases choice for families. For students with disabilities, it means opportunities to be involved in their local school and community; reduced travel time; access to a broader curriculum; opportunities to mix with and learn from peers without disabilities; and opportunities to improve social outcomes and independence skills.
Specialist schools also play a key role in the provision of supported inclusion models in Victoria. Choosing the most appropriate educational setting for a student will be dependent on their specific needs, location and family preferences. The Victorian Government school system offers genuine choice between appropriately supported enrolment in mainstream schools for students with disabilities as well as specialist schools which possess particular expertise, and some families may prefer this option.
3. Policy position and implications
The Victorian Government has committed to establishing Victoria as the Education State where every Victorian has an equal right to the knowledge and skills to shape their lives. Under the Education State reform agenda, schools are required to create a positive climate for learning, generating a culture of high expectations and promoting inclusion. In addition, the Government's Special Needs Plan for Victorian Schools requires all newly built government schools - or schools undertaking planning works - to provide facilities to accommodate the diverse needs of students.
The Government's policy to make schools more inclusive has implications for the way the Department prioritises provision investments for students with disabilities. This section summarises the policy implications for three broad categories of school capital investment:
- New schools.
- School adaptation.
- School modernisation.
Capital investments that promote inclusion and provide more opportunities for students with disabilities to attend a mainstream school in their local area will be prioritised.
When growth in the school age population and the number of students with disabilities is forecast to outstrip existing capacity in a local area, it may be necessary to build a new school. In this instance, co-location and inclusive design of a facility to service both mainstream students and students with disabilities is the Department's preferred option.
Students with disabilities can be accommodated in a new school build by (for example):
- Co-locating both mainstream and specialist provision to provide opportunities for students with disabilities to interact and engage with their peers who do not have a disability.
- Incorporating the Guiding Design Principles for Inclusive Schools (see Section 5) into the design of new mainstream schools to ensure the facilities are usable by all students.
- Building purpose-built spaces that allow mainstream schools to partner with specialist schools to provide curriculum and teaching expertise tailored for students with disabilities attending mainstream settings.
Box 2 illustrates the Department's preferred approach to incorporating inclusive provision for students with disabilities into a new school build.
Box 2: Inclusive new schools
The New Schools Public Private Partnership (PPP) Project will deliver 15 new Victorian government schools, opening in 2017 and 2018. All new schools delivered under this initiative are required to be inclusive, with an emphasis on removing barriers to students with a disability attending mainstream schools.
Under the PPP Project an inclusive education precinct will be established at Armstrong Creek in the City of Greater Geelong, where a mainstream primary school and prep to year 12 special school will be built using an inclusive facilities design. This approach will provide shared facilities and a flexible continuum of education provision, which allows the degree of inclusion for each learner to be determined according to need, ability and assessed benefit. It also provides opportunities for students to benefit from the expertise of specialist and mainstream staff. Collaboration between teachers with different expertise can provide greater support for all students. The Armstrong Creek education precinct will open for Term 1, 2018.
School adaptation may be required when existing school buildings are in good condition, but the facilities cannot accommodate moderate enrolment growth for students with disabilities (i.e. enrolment growth does not warrant investment in a new school). In this instance, the Department's preferred approach is to invest in mainstream school adaptation to provide inclusive school environments that meet the needs of students with disabilities in their local area.
School adaptation typically consists of refurbishments to existing buildings and minor new capital works, for example:
- Classroom modifications such as kitchen facilities, quiet spaces, accessible toileting and laundry facilities.
- Office spaces that include additional space for teacher resources and equipment.
- Exterior modifications that provide easy access to school buildings and playground areas.
- New purpose-built classroom buildings and/or shared spaces.
Adaptation may also allow mainstream schools to partner with specialist schools to better support students with disabilities enrolled in mainstream settings.
The Government's Inclusive Schools Fund provides $10 million over four years (from 2015) to assist Victorian government schools to improve the inclusive nature of their facilities.
School modernisation may be required when mainstream or specialist school facilities no longer meet the Department's and the community's provision expectations for students with disabilities (e.g. unsatisfactory condition or outdated design). In this instance, the Department's preferred approach is to accommodate students with disabilities in inclusive school environments that are integrated with mainstream settings.
For modernisation projects, the Department will seek opportunities to rebalance school provision towards inclusive education approaches which provide more opportunities for students with disabilities to attend a mainstream school in their local area. The Department's modernisation investment priorities include:
- Incorporating specialist provision into planned new mainstream school investments (see the 'New Schools' section above).
- Adapting existing mainstream schools in the local area to better meet the needs of students with disabilities.
- Relocating or upgrading existing facilities to provide more opportunities for students with disabilities to interact and engage with their peers in mainstream settings.
4. Palette of Provision Models
This section highlights the spectrum of provision models currently in place in Victorian government schools and provides examples of inclusive practice.
For additional context refer to Appendix 2, which provides an overview of the population of students with disabilities in Victoria.
4.1 Overview of provision models for students with disabilities
Victorian government school students with disabilities have, subject to eligibility requirements, access to mainstream, supported inclusion and specialist settings. Box 3 provides an introduction to each setting.
Box 3: Summary of education settings in Victoria
Mainstream schools - The majority of students with mild to moderate disabilities are educated in our government mainstream schools and adjustments are made on a needs driven basis, with a range of additional programmatic responses to assist mainstream schools to meet the needs of students.
Supported inclusion settings - Supported inclusion settings typically include flexible spaces for students with disabilities located in mainstream schools. For example, Autism Inclusion Schools provide additional expertise and support for students with autism in mainstream settings. There are also deaf facilities in some mainstream settings which provide specialised tuition and expertise.
Specialist schools - There are six main types of specialist schools: Special schools (mild intellectual disabilities); Special Developmental Schools (SDS) (moderate to profound intellectual disabilities); Dual Mode Schools (mild through to severe intellectual disabilities); autism specific schools; physical disability specific schools (for students with physical and/or health impairments); and sensory specific specialist schools (those enrolling hearing and vision impaired students).
4.1.1 Mainstream school provision
In 2015, between 55,000 and 66,000 students with disabilities, including more than 12,000 students with moderate to high needs as identified through the Program for Students with Disabilities (PSD), attended Victorian government mainstream schools. A small number of mainstream schools offer specialised provision in partnership with specialist schools.
Students with disabilities attending local mainstream schools are educated in the same classroom as their peers without a disability. If required, classrooms are equipped with specialist education services and/or supports to assist with students' learning and development requirements. These adjustments are funded through the Student Resource Package (SRP) and the PSD.
The Department also has a range of other programs to support mainstream schools provide for students with disabilities including: the newly established $10 million Inclusive Schools Fund; the Accessible Buildings Program;7 equipment grants for students with mild visual impairment; the Language Support Program to support language competency; and funding for schools to employ trained education and allied health support staff to assist students who require regular, complex medical support at school. To meet community expectations and legal and policy obligations, mainstream schools are expected to continuously build knowledge, skills and expertise to support students with disabilities.
Across Victoria individual mainstream schools are adopting inclusive practices that improve educational outcomes for students with disabilities (see Case Study A).
Case Study A: Kilberry Valley Primary School, Hampton Park
Kilberry Valley Primary School is a large primary school in Melbourne's outer south-east, educating approximately 855 students with a teaching staff of 65. The school has experienced a significant increase in enrolment by eligible students with PSD funding, in particular students with autism spectrum disorder.
To enhance the support for students with a range of additional learning needs, Kilberry has focused on shifting cultural approaches and community attitudes, growing the school's education support team, and managing behavioural challenges in the context of students' developmental needs. The school works closely with parents to provide an approach at school that is consistent with home practice. Allied health professionals are also involved to provide best practice support for students.
The school has developed effective administration tools, such as databases and communication books for aides to assist with monitoring and efficient information flows. Staff are regularly trained to meet student needs, including weekly sessions to discuss inclusive practice.
Kilberry's approach is based on its philosophy towards inclusive education. This has seen the school accepting referrals from many other schools including specialist schools.
Source: Kilberry Valley Primary School website, ACARA, site visit.
4.1.2 Supported inclusion models of provision
The list of provision options set out in Figure 2 highlights approaches that are designed to provide tailored support, often using specialist school expertise within mainstream settings.
Figure 2: Examples of supported inclusion models of provision in Victoria
Satellite Units are flexible spaces located in mainstream schools that are sensitive to the needs of students with disabilities. These spaces allow mainstream schools to partner with specialist schools to provide curriculum and teaching expertise tailored for students with disabilities attending mainstream settings.
Autism Inclusion Schools
Autism Inclusion Schools are a group of fifteen mainstream schools across Victoria. The schools support children and young people with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) by providing the necessary teaching expertise, knowledge and facilities for students to participate as fully as possible in the school's curriculum.
Base rooms are established by specialist schools in partnership with a mainstream host school. They are administered by specialist schools but located in mainstream schools and allow the students access to an educational program in a mainstream school.
Deaf facilities are specialist programs in mainstream schools that provide teacher expertise, specialist acoustic environments and tailored programs for a group of children who are deaf. They have a coordinator and are managed by the mainstream school principal.
Students are enrolled at both a mainstream and specialist school and split their school week between the two locations.
Figure 2 is not intended to encompass all options as schools meet the needs of students with disabilities using a range of locally designed approaches.
Supported inclusion models typically operate using a combination of programs, staffing arrangements and differentiated instruction techniques. Figure 3 provides examples of how supported inclusion models operate in mainstream schools.
Figure 3: Examples of how supported inclusion models can operate in mainstream schools
Pull-out, resource classrooms or special units
The student with a disability leaves the regular classroom to attend smaller, more intensive instructional sessions. Specialist education services may be provided in other settings at specific times during the day on a pull-out basis, such as resource rooms, occupational, physical and speech therapy, sensory rooms, rooms with special physical equipment and adaptive physical education.
Located in mainstream schools but separate from regular education classrooms, classes are designed specifically for children with special needs and are linked to a special school which allocates the staff and other programming support.
Regular education classes combined with special education services
Children with special needs are educated with their peers without a disability for at least half of the day. Alternatively, specialised services are provided in the regular classroom by locating support for one or more children in their regular classroom setting. Students with disabilities may also attend regular or general education classes and then receive additional support, such as in a resource room, speech or language therapy centre.
In practice, supported inclusion models are often implemented during the development of new or modified facilities. Modifications to facilities could include: acoustically contained areas and acoustic treatments in louder areas; withdrawal spaces and quiet meeting rooms; easy access to supportive toilets; and equipment and furniture to suit all needs (e.g. height adjustable work benches).
Supported inclusion models help to broaden local community based provision for families and promote shared responsibility for student learning. In appropriate circumstances, supported inclusion models offer a range of benefits for students including greater flexibility across education settings, knowledge sharing and building workforce expertise. Localising provision also reduces travel times. Case Study B provides a school perspective on implementing a supported inclusion model.
Case Study B: Manor Lakes P-12 College, Wyndham Vale
Manor Lakes P-12 College offers a special needs program to students with a range of intellectual and physical disabilities in a fully integrated setting.
Manor Lakes P-12 College was originally designed as a two-campus school - one campus for mainstream classes and one for special needs - before the two campuses were merged into one 'village' that is built around stages of learning, each with its own identifiable 'learning community' and outdoor courtyard. This approach recognises the need for distinct areas for different age groups and needs, while also recognising that many of the school facilities will be shared across the entire community (e.g. sports fields and a community hub).
The 'special needs learning community' includes a life skills learning area, physiotherapy, speech therapy consulting rooms, sensory rooms, kitchen space/café facilities, and staff rooms. Known as an Alliance Model, special needs learning community classes (small classes of up to eight students grouped according to need), are aligned with regular classes as much as possible to ensure an inclusive model of schooling. Depending on the students' needs, students divide their learning time between special needs learning community classes, and regular classes. The proportion spent in each learning environment will vary according to a student's needs. Students with disabilities spend their recreation time with other students and share all of the school's facilities. This enables positive, safe and flexible learning environments, ensuring all students feel accepted. According to the school's 2013 annual report, all students at Manor Lakes showed progress at a satisfactory level or above in achieving their individual goals.
Source: Inspire Magazine 2012; Manor Lakes 2013 Annual Report; Manor Lakes Flyer
4.1.3 Specialist school provision
In 2015, more than 12,000 students with disabilities and moderate to high learning needs as identified through the PSD (fewer than two per cent of the total government school student population) attended one of 81 specialist government schools in Victoria. Figure 4 provides an overview of the different types of specialist schools in Victoria.
Specialist schools are specifically designed, resourced and staffed to meet the varied needs of a cohort of children who have high support needs (i.e. physical, cognitive, medical, and psychological). All students attending specialist schools are supported by the PSD, unless the Regional Director has approved an exemption from this enrolment requirement.
Figure 4: Categories of specialist schools in Victoria
Special Schools (Day Special Schools)
Special Schools cater for students with mild intellectual disability (IQ 50-70). There are 17 Special Schools in Victoria, with the majority located in the metropolitan area or large regional centres.
Special Developmental Schools (SDS)
Special Development Schools cater for students with moderate to severe intellectual disability (IQ 50 and below). There are 20 SDSs in Victoria, with the majority located in the metropolitan area or large regional centres.
Dual Mode Schools
Dual Mode Schools combine the roles of special schools and SDSs, thus catering for students from mild through to severe intellectual disabilities. There are 30 Dual Mode Schools in Victoria, the majority of which are located in rural areas.
Autism Specific Schools
Autism Specific Schools cater for students diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. There are seven autism schools operating in Victoria, with five of these located in Metropolitan Melbourne.
Three schools cater for students with hearing impairments in the metropolitan area, but only two focus on early intervention.
Hospital Schools provide support for students that require ongoing hospitalisation - Austin, Travancore, Alfred Hospitals.
Physical Disability Specific Schools
Physical Disability Specific Schools cater for students with physical disabilities and/or health impairments. There are four schools, all of which operate in different parts of Melbourne.
Support and services provided through specialist school settings include:
- Outreach or related allied health services such as Speech and Language Therapy, Autism Outreach and Occupational Therapy, which may be provided to students on a visiting basis at their school.
- Modifications and adjustments consist of changes in curriculum, pedagogy, and the provision of supplementary aides or equipment, and specialised facilities that allow students to participate in the educational environment to the fullest extent possible. Students may need this assistance to access the curriculum, physically access the school, or to meet their emotional/social/sensory needs.
Specialist schools play an important role in Victoria's education system. They provide a range of targeted adjustments and learning arrangements including smaller class sizes, individualised programs and staff with extensive specialist knowledge and expertise.
Specialist schools also play a key role in the provision of supported inclusion models in Victoria. Mainstream and specialist schools have developed partnerships to provide satellite units and base rooms, and to promote best practice in their school network. Many special schools recognise the importance of community connections and participation, and have a dedicated focus on increasing employment skills and opportunities for social inclusion (see Case Study C ).
Case Study C: Berendale School, Hampton East
Berendale School is a secondary specialist school for students with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities. The school's goal is to increase the employment skills of students and smooth their transition to work through community connections, including supportive employment and voluntary work. Berendale School believes that students should be valued by their community and, similarly, students have a responsibility to add value to the community.
Junior programs focus on building foundations for success with a strong emphasis on improving literacy, numeracy, development of social skills and independence. Senior programs emphasise preparation for life in the adult community through VET and the completion of VCAL at Foundation or Intermediate level.
Berendale School is a Registered Training Organisation which delivers units of competency in automotive technology, horticulture, hospitality, information technology, nail technology and volunteering. The school has a range of facilities, including a commercial kitchen, automotive shed, pool kiosk and car detailing centre which supports the school curriculum and development of students' skills.
Berendale has developed positive partnerships within the local community. Examples include a partnership with the local Elanora Aged Care Facility, where students run the coffee shop to gain experience in hospitality, and the Elanora residents enjoy the interaction with young people. The school also has a partnership with Kingston Council and Citywide Parks where students practice their horticulture skills by maintaining sections of Basterfield Park and participate in an indigenous planting program in Westgate Park in Port Melbourne.
Community volunteer opportunities are available to students through Fairway Aged Care, Seeing Eye Dogs Australia, the Bayside Film Festival, and delivering meals on wheels to Kingston council residents with disabilities.
Berendale School also runs an extended school hub, supported by a network of partner organisations and providers, that offers a range of programs for eligible secondary school aged young people with intellectual disabilities in the south eastern suburbs of Melbourne.
Source: Berendale School website, Schools First website, My School website
5. Guiding Design Principles for Inclusive Schools
The purpose of the Guiding Design Principles for Inclusive Schools is to ensure, to the greatest extent possible, the design of educational environments that are usable by all people without adaptation or specialised design.
Contemporary facilities design recognises that there is a wide spectrum of human abilities, including physical, perceptual and cognitive abilities, appropriate to different ages. The Guiding Design Principles for Inclusive Schools (Box 4) promote leading practices in the design of educational facilities.
These principles should guide all provision planning decisions. Applying the Guiding Design Principles for Inclusive Schools to provision planning for mainstream, specialist and supported inclusion education models will broaden opportunities for all learners, particularly students with disabilities.
The Guiding Design Principles for Inclusive Schools are described below under three categories:
- Education principles (Principles 1-4) - Initially developed by the Department's New School Public Private Partnership Project, the Education principles aim to capture the Department's vision and values.
- Education facilities design principles (Principles 5-10) - Education facilities design principles capture the implications of the education principles for the design of new and updated facilities.
- Universal and inclusive design principles (Principles 11-17) - Universal and inclusive design principles ensure environments are usable by all without the need for adaptation or specialised design. Inclusive design of schools goes beyond minimum compliance and employs the 7 Principles of Universal Design.8 The universal design principles are used extensively by government and non-government organisations across the world, including the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services and the Australian Government Department of Social Services.
Provision planners should take account of the Guiding Design Principles for Inclusive Schools as part of a thorough consideration of all feasible provision options.
Source: The Centre for Universal Design, North Carolina State University 1997; Department of Social Services 2014, Victorian State Disability Plan 2013 2016: Implementation Plan 2013 and 2014. See:
The 7 Principles of Universal Design
Box 4: Guiding Design Principles for Inclusive Schools
Learners and learning are central. Planning is centred on providing learning environments that develop the whole person - intellectually, emotionally, socially, physically and culturally.
Schools are community hubs. Schools and school networks are open to and provide for the needs of all students in the community by engaging and developing partnerships with people and services.
Diversity is celebrated. Schools and school design ensure the inclusion of all learners by respecting and honouring diversity within the school and wider community.
A welcoming environment. The school environment understands and supports the physical and emotional health and wellbeing of all students and staff.
Education facilities design principles
Local schools are accessible to all. Design facilities to maximise accessibility to all members of the community. Consider locations which are easily and safely accessed by the greatest number of students, by sustainable modes of transport.
Promote a collaborative approach to provision planning within school networks. Identify a number of schools in each network with a specialist focus area; ensuring students with specific needs are well accommodated at a school somewhere within their local community.
Co-locate facilities that are tailored for students with disabilities within mainstream schools, ahead of other options. Design for student interaction and allow for graduated levels of support (e.g. room for aides and flexible spaces that are sensitive to the needs of all learners). Siblings can travel together to a single local school where all learning needs are welcomed and met.
Create facilities that offer a variety of spaces to meet all needs. A choice of indoor and outdoor spaces is provided to support individual and group learning and engagement needs. Microenvironment design takes into account the needs of students with a range of disabilities and supports maximum inclusion and participation by all students.
Design facilities that are adaptable for changing purposes. School facilities are capable of being used for different organisational models and by diverse students in different ways over the life of the buildings without requiring significant modification.
Design schools to serve future communities. School facilities are designed and built to serve diverse communities for 30-50 years or more and can be reconfigured for changing needs.
Universal and inclusive design principles
Equitable use. The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities.
Flexibility in use. The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.
Simple and intuitive use. Use of the facility is easy to understand, regardless of the user's experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.
Perceptible information. The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user's sensory abilities.
Tolerance for error. The design minimises hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.
Low physical effort. The design can be used efficiently and comfortably and with a minimum of fatigue.
Size and space for approach and use. Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use regardless of user's body size, posture, or mobility.
6. Overview of the provision planning process
This section outlines the Department's provision planning process for students with disabilities. The process is aimed at aligning the Department's investment priorities with the Education State agenda to deliver an equitable system that is explicit about ensuring excellence for all, regardless of personal or social circumstance.
The process is intended to support regional planners to forecast future capacity needs and to develop and prioritise fit-for-purpose provision for students with disabilities. It also sets out the resources available to assist regions and school communities throughout the planning process.
The Department undertakes detailed analysis and evaluation of proposed new school projects and upgrades to identify those critically required in future years. These projects are prioritised for consideration in the annual State Budget process to provide a targeted package of school capital investments which responds to the growing demand pressures for school services across Victoria.
Departmental planning processes are designed to support school-community integration through consultation with local councils, school communities, the Metropolitan Planning Authority, non-government schools and early childhood and training providers to identify opportunities to co-locate facilities or create opportunities which enhance the range of services available to communities, including students with disabilities.
The purpose of the provision planning process for students with disabilities is to:
- Facilitate a systematic and coordinated approach to demand analysis and the design of school upgrades and new facilities to fully account for the needs of students with disabilities.
- Support regions to undertake location-specific analysis to assess the current level of disability provision and to develop the most appropriate provision requirements to meet demand in those localities.
- Ensure that inclusive provision investments are considered and prioritised.
Key elements of the planning process include:
Three 'Gateways' to ensure a consistent and robust approach to provision planning.
GATEWAY #1: Identify Provision Need
GATEWAY #2: Strategic Assessment
GATEWAY #3: Prioritise Investments
A Disability Provision Advisory Group, whose purpose is to:
Support provision planners to identify the provision mix and capital investment required to accommodate students with disabilities in their region.
Ensure investments align with the relevant policy objectives.
- An annual
Disability Provision Investment Conference (i.e. a structured investment prioritisation process) that provides a coordinated Departmental approach to agreeing system-level disability investment priorities for the next annual State Budget and forward estimates period.
The broad architecture of the Department's provision planning process for students with disabilities is set out in Figure 5.
The Department's primary contact for this process is the Director, Resources Strategy Division, Infrastructure and Finance Services Group. Section 7 provides a more detailed description of each element of the process.
Figure 5: A Step-by-Step Guide to Provision Planning for Students with Disabilities. This diagram is explained in section 7.
7. Provision Planning Gateways
The provision planning process is structured around three 'Gateways' to ensure a consistent and robust approach to planning for students with disabilities. Figure 6 provides an overview of steps to be completed under each Gateway. Subsequent sections describe each Gateway in more detail.
Figure 6: Overview of Provision Planning Gateways
GATEWAY #1: Identify Provision Need
Step 1: Consult with local and school communities
Consult with schools and local community to understand existing capacity pressures and provision gaps
Step 2: Collect local information
Identify local information that can inform an assessment of need. For example, a profile of the existing provision demographic and enrolment trends
Step 3: Engage with the capital pipeline process (via IFSG)
Source additional population and disability forecasting information
GATEWAY #2: Strategic Assessment
The Department will prioritise provision options that provide more opportunities for students with
disabilities to attend a mainstream school in their local area
Step 4: Consult Disability Provision Advisory Group
Access expert advice and support to develop provision options that are tailored to meet expected demand given a region's existing infrastructure profile
Step 5: Identify initial provision options
Provision options should be tailored to address demand pressures identified in Gateway #1. Consider all feasible options set out in Section 4 – Palette of Provision Models
Step 6: Apply the Guiding Design Principles for Inclusive Schools
Ensure facilities design is refined based on the Guiding Design Principles for Inclusive Schools
GATEWAY #3: Prioritise Investments
Step 7: Attend the Disability Provision Investment Conference
Agree state-wide investment priorities for students with disabilities
Step 8: Prioritise disability provision and state-wide capital investments
Identify highest-priority provision investments for all students to be brought forward for funding consideration in annual State Budget.
Step 9: Develop business case
Develop business case for submission to Government
Annual State Budget funding appropriation
7.1 Getting started
The Department draws on a range of information to understand the provision gaps in different communities. Local knowledge and community input are key elements of understanding students' provision requirements. In addition, knowledge of demographic trends, the prevalence of disability in a region, and enrolment and travel patterns provide the basis for developing provision options (see Appendix 2 for an overview of the population of students with disabilities in Victoria).
Forecasting the provision needs for students with disabilities can be challenging. The Department is investigating whether more sophisticated demand forecasting tools can be developed for students with disabilities. Quantifying localised variability and demand will assist planning managers to understand the provision and cost implications of delivering models of education provision to meet the future needs of Victorian students with disabilities. It is anticipated that an updated forecasting methodology will inform the 2017-18 Budget Planning process and capital pipeline development from 2016.
In the interim, a range of indicators are used to understand where demand pressures are likely to justify investment in additional provision. Table 1 sets out indicators of need and information to be considered in the initial planning phase.
Table 1: Indicators of need and potential information sources
Growth in school age population
Local demographic and student enrolment data
Local knowledge of demographic trends
IFSG have engaged demographic experts to provide small area population forecasts representing total demand in the education sector:
- By single year of age (and aggregated to appropriate age cohorts for each level of schooling).
- For each year from 2011-2036.
- By state, region, LGA, SA2, SA1 derived areas and local school neighbourhoods.
Forecasts will be further adjusted to identify the proportion of school-aged children that receive PSD funding and by type of school attending.
Current Departmental forecasting estimates that 4 per cent of the Victorian government school student population will be diagnosed with moderate to high education need (i.e. eligible for the PSD).
Capacity pressures in existing provision
Local knowledge of demographic and enrolment trends
Annual enrolment data collected by DET.
The difference between permanent school capacity and enrolments.
Use of relocatable classrooms.
Student per square meter (representing student density across facilities).
Students with Disabilities Transport Program data on travel times and distance.
Spatial mapping of residential location and location of school attending.
Local trends in disability prevalence
School principals and community consultation
Local knowledge of demographic trends
ABS Census data.
Development in urban growth corridors
Consultation with local government
Consultation with school communities in the surrounding region
Local knowledge of demographic trends
The Department works with the Metropolitan Planning Authority (MPA) to ensure that all future residential developments have an appropriate number of school sites planned through the Precinct Structure Planning (PSP) process.
For planning purposes, the Department assumes that a development of 60,000 households warrants detailed analysis of future provision requirements for students with disabilities in that region.
7.2 Gateway #1 - Identify Provision Need
It is the responsibility of provision planners to complete this Gateway and to engage with the Department's capital pipeline process as early as possible in the planning process. The purpose of Gateway #1 is to identify the current and future provision needs of students with disabilities. There are many ways of meeting future provision requirements in a region. Robust identification of need provides the evidence base for options development. The steps required to complete Gateway #1 are set out below.
STEP 1. Consult with local and school communities
Consult with schools and the local community to obtain an understanding of existing capacity pressures and potential provision gaps for students with disabilities.
STEP 2. Collect local information
Identify local information that can inform an assessment of need. For example, a profile of the existing provision, demographic and enrolment trends. Refer to the ‘Getting Started’ section for indicators of demand and potential information sources.
STEP 3. Engage the Department's capital pipeline process
Engage with the Department's capital pipeline process (via the Director, Resource Strategy Division, Infrastructure and Finance Services Group) to source additional population and disability forecasting information, potentially including PSD and Students with Disabilities Transport Program data.
GATEWAY # 1 COMPLETED
7.3 Gateway #2 - Strategic Assessment
Infrastructure and Finance Services Group (IFSG) is responsible for ensuring the steps in this Gateway are applied during the planning process, with the support of the Early Childhood and Schools Education Group (ECSEG) and Regional Services Group (RSG). The purpose of Gateway #2 is to identify provision options to meet the needs of students with disabilities in a region and align with the Department's priorities. Provision options should be inclusive and tailored to address enrolment capacity pressures identified in Gateway #1.
This Gateway ensures that provision planners have access to design and policy expertise so that new schools and upgrades of established schools provide choice for students with disabilities and are consistent with legislative requirements and government policy.
STEP 4. Consult Disability Provision Advisory Group
The Disability Provision Advisory Group, with cross-Departmental membership, provides access to expert advice and information to support provision planners throughout the planning and design process.
STEP 5. Identify initial provision options
Provision options should be inclusive and tailored to address demand pressures identified in Gateway #1. Consider all feasible options set out in Section 4 of these Guidelines - Palette of Provision Models.
STEP 6. Apply the Guiding Design Principles for Inclusive Schools
Facilities design should incorporate the Guiding Design Principles for Inclusive Schools (see Section 5 of these Guidelines). Provision option s should also be consistent with legislative requirements and policy objectives (refer to Section 2).
GATEWAY #2 COMPLETED
7.3.1 Description of Steps in Gateway #2
Step 4 - Consult the Disability Provision Advisory Group
Given the complexity of provision design for students with disabilities, the Disability Provision Advisory Group (DPAG) has been established to assist regional planners to develop provision options that are tailored to meet expected demand given a regions existing infrastructure profile and school community need. The DPAG meets quarterly and its membership includes representatives from the ECSEG, RSG, IFSG and DET Regions in order to provide a broad range of support to planners (and access to external expertise when required). Membership of the DPAG and the Group's purpose and are set out below.
Disability Provision Advisory Group
IFSG (Chair), ECSEG, RSG, Provision and Planning Managers and external expertise as required.
Assist regional planners to identify provision mix and capital investment required to accommodate students with disabilities, ensure alignment with policy objectives and Departmental priorities and to facilitate access to external expertise when required.
Meets quarterly - February, May, August, November
Provision planners are required to consult with the DPAG during the options development and design phases in order to satisfy the Strategic Assessment Gateway. For more information about how to engage the DPAG, contact the Director, Resource Strategy Division IFSG.
Step 5 - Identify initial provision options
The Department's objective is to offer inclusive school environments that support all students. The Department prioritises provision options that provide more opportunities for students with disabilities to attend a mainstream school in their local area. Minimising barriers to attending mainstream schools is fundamental to the Department's provision planning for students with disabilities.
There are typically three broad categories of capital investments that provide an inclusive and tailored provision response to regional needs.
New Build - where growth in the school age population is likely to outstrip existing capacity it may be necessary to build a new facility to accommodate demand. In this instance, co-location and inclusive design of a facility to service both mainstream students and students with disabilities may be the preferred option (or a significant component of the preferred option).
Adaptation - where the growth in demand by students with disabilities or the changing prevalence of disability in a region requires expansion or adaptation of existing facilities, but does not necessarily warrant investment in a new purpose-built facility. The feasibility, size and scale of adaptation will be subject to the availability of land; however, the scope of adaptation may include a new build and/or any of the supported inclusion models set out in Section 6 of these Guidelines.
Modernisation - where demand growth can technically be accommodated by existing facilities, but those facilities no longer meet the Department's and the community's provision expectations for students with disabilities (e.g. unsatisfactory condition or outdated design). In this situation, investing in a combination of the above options - new build and adaption of other school sites - may be the preferred solution.
Step 6 - Apply the Guiding Design Principles for Inclusive Schools to refine options
In addition to ensuring compliance with legislative requirements and government policy, provision options must be consistent with the Guiding Design Principles for Inclusive Schools (see Section 5 of the Guidelines).
7.4 Gateway #3 - Prioritise Investments
IFSG is responsible for coordinating the steps in this this Gateway, with the support of ECSEG and RSG. The purpose of Gateway #3 is to prioritise provision investments for students with disabilities and ensure these priorities are considered in the Department's school capital pipeline and the annual State Budget submission to Government.
STEP 7. Attend Disability Provision Investment Conference
The Disability Provision Investment Conference is a structured approach to prioritising investment for students with disabilities. It provides a process for stakeholders (Regional Directors, RSG, ECSEG, IFSG) di scuss complexities and state-wide investment priorities for students with disabilities.
STEP 8. Prioritise disability provision and state-wide school capital investments
Identify the highest-priority provision investments for all students to be brought forward for funding consideration in annual State Budget.
STEP 9. Develop business case
Develop business case for submission to Government. Provision planners are required to demonstrate they have considered these Guidelines as part of their internal business case preparations.
GATEWAY #3 COMPLETED
7.4.1 Description of Steps in Gateway #3
Step 7 - Attend the Disability Provision Investment Conference
The Disability Provision Investment Conference (DPIC) is a structured investment prioritisation process. The DPIC is the intersection between the planning cycle and the annual State Budget cycle. The DPIC is scheduled to coincide with the development of business cases for submission to Government, and occurs in September each year. It provides a process to agree system-level disability investment priorities for the coming Budget and forward estimates period.
DPIC prioritisation criteria will be determined each year as part of the Department's capital pipeline process. However, development of the DPIC prioritisation criteria will be informed by:
Participants in the DPIC process would typically include Regional Directors, Provision and Planning Managers and Executive Directors from IFSG, ECSEG and RSG.
Step 8 - Prioritise disability provision and state-wide school capital investments
The process of prioritising school provision investments is led by IFSG, in consultation with RSG, regional planners and local communities. The output from this process is a ranked analysis of significant provision investments, including disability provision, for all local areas across Victoria, ranked from highest to lowest for each year.
Step 9 - Development of business case
Following the DPIC, business cases are developed and considered against the Department's school capital pipeline for submission to Government. Business cases are also used to prioritise funding for the acquisition of land and the construction of new schools and upgrades to established schools. Prioritised funding is announced annually in May each year.
The final timing for delivery of school capital projects is determined through the annual State Budget process. The timing of new school delivery is subject to the progress of residential development in the Metropolitan Planning Authority, Precinct Structure Plan area and the capacity of nearby schools.
All land purchases made by the Department are carried out in compliance with the Victorian Government Land Transactions Policy and Guidelines (Department of Treasury and Finance).
When submitting a business case to IFSG, provision planners are required to demonstrate they have considered the Guidelines as part of their internal business case preparation.
7.5 Annual State Budget funding appropriation
The Department's IFSG coordinates the process for planning new and upgraded school infrastructure to ensure that balanced provision is available across the State. All schools are prioritised by IFSG into a medium to long-term capital pipeline. Through this process, the highest priority schools are brought forward to be considered for funding in the annual State Budget.
Based on demand analysis and information catalogued through the provision planning Gateway process, a pipeline of school capital investments required to meet projected demand for education services is developed. This pipeline is tested annually through further consultations with regions and expert advice.
Appendix 1: Related documents
Departmental provision planning policy
Building standards, legislation and regulations
The Department's Building Quality Standards Handbook
- The Building Code of Australia
- The Building Act 1993 (Vic)
- The Building Regulations 2006 (Vic)
- The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth)
- The Disability Standards for Education 2005 (Cth)
- The Disability (Access to Premises - Building) Standards 2010 (Cth)
To request an accessible version of the Department's Building Quality Standards Handbook, contact Aidan Devitt on (03) 9637 2888.
Other relevant information
Appendix 2: Profile of students with disabilities in Victoria
This section provides an overview of the population of students with disabilities in Victoria and a summary of ongoing data collections that may inform the development of provision model options and the decision making processes set out in Part B of this document.
Total population overview
In 2015, there were 1,528 government schools in Victoria, providing education and development services to more than 550,000 students. Of these students an estimated 12 to 14 per cent (66,000 to 77,000) have disabilities, the majority of whom (55,000 to 66,000) attend mainstream schools. Around 11,000 students with disabilities attend one of the 81 specialist schools across Victoria. The estimate of 12-14 per cent is based on national and international prevalence rates; it represents the best information available at this time. The Department does not have an exact figure for the population of students with disabilities as defined under the DDA that require educational adjustment. All students attending specialist schools are supported by the PSD, unless the Regional Director has approved an exemption.
While baseline counts of students with disabilities will improve over time through the introduction of the Nationally Consistent Collection of Data, comprehensive data remains limited. The majority of information available to the Department continues to be sourced from the Victorian Program for Students with Disabilities administrative data set.
What does our program data tells us?
PSD data tell us that around four per cent of all government school students (more than 23,000 students) have been assessed as having moderate to high learning needs and receive PSD funding. The vast majority of students with lower levels of need rely on adjustments and targeted intervention and supports put in place by their education provider without additional targeted funding beyond the Department's Student Resource Package. The Student Resource Package is the Department's government school funding model.
This is a web accessible version of the School Provision Planning Guidelines for Students with Disabilities document. For a PDF of the document, see:
For more information about the Guidelines, see:
Building Inclusive New Schools