All Victorian government schools aim to support children and young people on the autism spectrum to participate as fully as possible in school life.The range of local neighbourhood schooling provisions for students on the autism spectrum is strengthened when schools develop additional knowledge and skills in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
A three year project, involving fifteen schools from across the State, is helping to develop a localised school approach to:
strengthening a whole-school culture of inclusion, and valuing every student
acknowledging the unique needs of students and adjusting curriculum and pedagogy to support them (e.g. individual learning and support plans developed at Student Support Group [SSG] meetings)
increasing the skills, knowledge and capacity of staff to support students on the autism spectrum
providing additional support and expertise to the broader school community.
Staff in each school undertook online and face-to-face training and worked with Monash University to develop targeted approaches to meeting the needs of students on the autism spectrum. Schools also undertook a self-reflective evaluation process to consider their achievements and further opportunities for growth and development.
Schools worked to create an autism friendly environment at the whole school level, through additional professional learning to build the expertise of all school staff. Children and young people on the autism spectrum also received targeted support and intervention where appropriate. Each school’s individual approach was developed and implemented in the context of the needs of their school community.
This project provided the education system with a range of models and learnings to assist all schools to strengthen their inclusive environments. The key learning from the project was that while each Autism Friendly Learning school will be different, as they respond to local need, utilise local knowledge and expertise and plan for the goals of their students and school community, the following essential elements will need to remain constant:
- a focus on the child and young person first
- leadership from the Principal and Leadership Team
- promotion of inclusion at a whole-school level, ensuring that inclusive values are consistent school-wide
- provision of coordinated extensive professional development, aiming to improve the capability of all staff to support students on the autism spectrum
- provision of channels for meaningful communication and collaboration between all people associated with the support and education of the student on the autism spectrum with an emphasis on parents and families
- continual review and implementation of evidence-based pedagogy and curriculum
- demonstrated consideration of the physical/aesthetic elements that constitute an ASD friendly environment.
All Victorian government schools have access to the resources and learnings that this project delivered, through the Department’s Autism Friendly Learning website.
Watch Carly, Assistant Principal, talk about how their approach has improved outcomes for all students through building teacher capacity within the school and broader region.
Transcript of Assistant Principal, Carly discussing Autism Inclusion Support Program (docx - 32.13kb)
Project school winner
One of our project schools, Williamstown North Primary School, is the winner of the Victorian Education Excellence Award for Outstanding Inclusive Education, see: