Department program

Inclusive Education for Students with Disabilities

​​​​​We are delivering an inclusive education agenda to give schools extra resources, support and guidance.

The aim is to create safe and inclusive school environments for students with disabilities and additional needs.

The initiatives focus on developing the knowledge and skills of school staff, and giving schools clearer guidance and specialist support to better respond to the needs of students with disabilities.

What Victorian students have to say about inclusive education

What inclusion means to me

Inclusion – full responses

00:08 Voiceover: We’re here today to talk about inclusive education for students with disabilities across all areas of schools. In particular, we’re here to hear from students themselves about what inclusive education means to them.

00:23 Student 1: Inclusion is important because people with different disabilities and different conditions have different skills, different perspectives that need to be heard.

00:32 Student 2: In education, we want every student to succeed in their own way and to the best of their ability.

00:37 Student 3: Inclusion is important because we need to value everyone as an equal.

00:41 Student 4: It’s important to understand people have different cultures and diversities.

00:46 Student 5: Well for me, it means that everyone gets to be involved, there is more fun with activities and everyone feels included, and everyone embraces everyone’s diversity.

00:56 Student 6: Everyone has the right to be included.

00:59 Student 7: To create an environment for the best of each other, (1;02 student ) eg. sports and debate teams

1:05 Student 8: Inclusion is a really good way to support, not just at school, but at home and in the community

1:13 Student 9: It gives everyone a chance to achieve their goals, (1:16 student 10) to have more opportunities in many other things such as getting a job and living independently.

1:23 Student 11: Inclusion is important to me because everyone belongs in a part of a whole.

1:28 Student 12: It also means that you get to make new friends, and get to know each other.

1:33 Student 13: It allows students, who have an amalgamation of different abilities, to prosper in their own way.

1:39 Student 14: Because everybody deserves to belong, no matter if you’re disabled, autistic or just normal.

1:46 Student 15: And we want to play to every individuals strengths.

Download the What inclusion means to me poster (pdf - 3.28mb)

Background

The activities in the inclusive education agenda are a response to recommendations from the Review of the Program for Students with Disabilities.

The review investigated how schools can provide the best learning for children and young people with disabilities.

The review provided recommendations on:

  • the current program for students with disabilities' ability to meet the needs and maximise the learning of all children and young people with disabilities in Victorian government schools.
  • the future capacity of the government school system to meet the specific needs of students with autism spectrum disorder and dyslexia.
  • the feasibility of shifting to a strength-based, functional needs assessment approach for students with disabilities. This is consistent with the directions of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
  • the efficacy of the current year 6–7 program — its purpose, timing, requirements and influence on students' transition from primary to secondary school, and recommendations of alternative models.
  • the program's capacity to support the Victorian Government's commitment to excellence in inclusive education, including an assessment of accountabilities.
  • advice on operationalising the recommendations of the review, including transition implications.

Review report and response

To read the Review report and the Government's response, see:

Research

The review was informed by a number of resources, including:

  • academic research
  • Australian Government reports
  • material from disability organisations.

The research provides an ongoing evidence base that may assist with implementing the Government's response to the review.

The literature used in the review represents the views of the authors and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Department or the State of Victoria.

View the review research documents
  • Foreman, P. & Arthur-Kelly, M. (2015). An update on the social justice principles, the law and research, as bases for inclusion, University of Newcastle. An internal report commissioned by the Program for Students with Disabilities Review Unit, Department of Education and Training, Victoria.

    Word (docx - 107.54kb) | PDF (pdf - 655.32kb)
  • McDonald, D & O'Callaghan, K. (2015). Developing synergies between the National Disability Insurance Scheme and the Victorian government school system. An internal report commissioned by the Program for Students with Disabilities Review Unit, Department of Education and Training, Victoria, Australia.

    Word (docx - 132.11kb) | PDF (pdf - 888.71kb)
  • Mitchell, D. (2015). Education that fits: International trends in the education of students with special education needs. An internal report commissioned by the Program for Students with Disabilities Review Unit, Department of Education and Training, Victoria, Australia.

    Word (docx - 3.79mb) | PDF (pdf - 3.52mb)
  • O'Connor, Quach, J., M., Goldfeld, S., Gold, L., Hopkins, D., Beatson, R., & Aston, R. (2015). Approaches to the provision of educational support for children and young people with additional health and developmental needs: autism. An internal report commissioned by the Program for Students with Disabilities Review Unit, Department of Education and Training, Victoria, Australia.

    Word (docx - 1.57mb) | PDF (pdf - 993.97kb)
  • Punch, R. (2015). Use and efficacy of paraprofessionals in special education. An internal report commissioned by the Program for Students with Disabilities Review Unit, Department of Education and Training, Victoria, Australia.

    Word (docx - 195.28kb) | PDF (pdf - 774.92kb)
  • Quach, J., O'Connor, M., Goldfeld, S., Gold, L., Hopkins, D., Beatson, R., & Aston, R. (2015). Approaches to the provision of educational support for children and young people with additional health and developmental needs: dyslexia. An internal report commissioned by the Program for Students with Disabilities Review Unit, Department of Education and Training, Victoria, Australia.

    Word (docx - 1.39mb) | PDF (pdf - 804.24kb)
  • Sharma, U., Forlin, C. & Furlonger, B. (2015a). A review of contemporary models of funding inclusive education for students with dyslexia. An internal report commissioned by the Program for Students with Disabilities Review Unit, Department of Education and Training, Victoria, Australia.

    Word (docx - 463.27kb) | PDF (pdf - 564.95kb)
  • Sharma, U., Forlin, C. & Furlonger, B. (2015b). Contemporary models of funding inclusive education for students with autism spectrum disorder. An internal report commissioned by the Program for Students with Disabilities Review Unit, Department of Education and Training, Victoria, Australia.

    Word (docx - 469.07kb) | PDF (pdf - 589.25kb)

Additional research and resources include:

Australian Bureau of Statistics (2012). Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers, (cat. No. 4330.0).

Australian Government (1992). Disability Discrimination Act 1992.            

Australian Government (2005). Disability Standards for Education 2005.

Australian Government (2013). National Disability Insurance Scheme (Supports for Participants) Rules.

Australian Government (2010). Report on the Review of Disability Standards for Education 2005, Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.

Australian Government (2015). Submission of the Australian Government Day of General Discussion on the Right to Education for Persons with Disabilities, Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland.

Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (2015). Australian Professional Standards for Teachers, retrieved from <www.aitsl.edu.au/australian-professional-standards-for-teachers/standards/list>.

Autism New Zealand n.d, About Autism.

Booth, T and Ainscow, M. (2000, 2002, 2011). The index for inclusion: developing learning and participation in schools, Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education, Bristol

CCS Disability Action New Zealand. (2015). Submission to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities for the Day of General Discussion on the right to education for persons with disabilities. Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland.

Children with Disability Australia (CDA). (2015). Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Day of General Discussion on the right to education for persons with disabilities CDA Submission. Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland.

Claridge, I., Spinks, J., & Spinks, M. (2010). Responding to community diversity: Inclusive practices across the Victorian government school system, and supporting children and young people with additional learning needs. Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, Victoria.

Cleland, G. & Smith, A. (2010). Journey to work: Creating pathways for young disabled people in New Zealand. Discussion document prepared for CCS Disability Action and Workbridge New Zealand.

Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. (2015). Information note: right to education: UN disability rights committee holds day of general discussion. Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland.

Collins, M. K. (1984). Integration in Victorian education: report of the Ministerial Review of Educational Services for the Disabled, Melbourne, Education Department of Victoria.

Cullen, R. & Brown, N. (1992). Integration and special education in Victorian schools: a Program Effectiveness Review, Melbourne, Education Department of Victoria.

Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (2012). Strength-Based Approach. Victoria.

Department of Education and Training (November 2014). Special Needs Plan, Victoria.

Department of Education and Training (2015). Framework for Improving Student Outcomes. Victoria.

Education Review Office (2012). Including students with high needs: school questionnaire responses (2), New Zealand Government.

Education Review Office (2013). Including students with high needs—primary schools, New Zealand Government.

Giangreco, M. F., Carter, E. W., Doyle, M. B., & Suter, J. C. (2010). Supporting students with disabilities in inclusive classrooms: personnel and peers, in R. Rose (Ed.), Confronting obstacles to inclusion: international responses to developing inclusive schools, pp. 247–263, Routledge, UK. 

Graham, L. & Slee, R. (2008). An Illusory Interiority: Interrogating the discourse/s of inclusion. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 40(2), pp. 277–293.

Grant, J. & Cadell, S. (2009). Power, Pathological Worldviews, and the Strengths Perspective in Social Work. Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services, 90(4), pp.425-430.

Griffin, P., Murray, L., Care, E., Thomas, A., & Perri, P. (2010). Developmental assessment: lifting literacy through professional learning teams, Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice, 17(4), pp. 383–397.

Hattie, J. (2003). Teachers make a difference: what is the research evidence? Paper presented at the Australian Council for Educational Research annual conference on Building Teacher Quality, Melbourne.

Hattie, J. (2009). Visible learning: a synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement, Routledge, UK.

Hornby, G. & Lafaele, R. (2011). Barriers to parental involvement in education. Educational Review, 63(1), 37-52.

Learning Difficulties Australia, Response to Intervention

Network of Disabled Persons Organisations and disability NGO organisations New Zealand. (2015). Submission to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Day of General Discussion on the right to education for persons with disabilities. Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland.

O'Connor, M., Howell-Meurs, S., Kvalsvig, A., & Goldfeld, S. (2014). Understanding the impact of special health care needs on early school functioning: A conceptual model. Child: Care, Health and Development, 41 (1), 15–22.

Ofsted (2006). Inclusion: Does it matter where pupils are taught? England.

Powell, D. (2012). A review of inclusive education in New Zealand. Electronic Journal for Inclusive Education, 2(10).

Productivity Commission (2012). School workforce, research report. Australian Government.

Productivity Commission (2015). Report on Government Services 2015. Australian Government.

Reupert, A., Deppeler, J. M., & Sharma, U. (In press). Enablers for inclusion: The perspectives of parents of children with autism spectrum disorder. Australasian Journal of Special Education, doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/jse.2014.17

Savolainen, H., Engelbrecht, P., Nel, M., & Malinen, O. P. (2012). Understanding teachers' attitudes and self-efficacy in inclusive education: Implications for pre-service and in-service teacher education. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 27, 51-68. doi: 10.1080/08856257.2011.613603.

Shaddock, A., MacDonald, N., Hook, J., Giorcelli, L., & Arthur-Kelly, M. (2009). Disability, diversity and tides that lift all boats: Review of special education in the ACT. Chiswick: NSW, Services Initiatives.

Shepherd, K. G., Giangreco, M. F., & Cook, B. G. (2013). Parent participation in assessment and in development of individualized education programs. In B. G. Cook & M. Tankersley (Eds.), Research-based practices in special education (pp. 260-272). Boston: Pearson.

Simeonsson, R., Leonardi, M., Lollar, D., Bjorck-Akesson, E., Hollenweger, J., & Martinuzzi A. (2003). Applying the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) to measure childhood disability, Disability and Rehabilitation. 25(11–12), pp. 602–610.

SPELD Victoria n.d., Our Mission. Available: <http://www.speldvic.org.au/about-us/mission-statement>

UNESCO (2015). Education For All 2000–2015: Achievements and challenges, UNESCO Publishing, France.

Üstun, T.B., Chatterji, S., Bickenbach, J., & Kostanjsek, N. (2003). The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health: a new tool for understanding disability and health. Disability and Rehabilitation, (25) 11-12, pp.565-571.

Victorian Auditor-General's Office (2012). Programs for students with special learning needs, Melbourne, Victoria.

Victorian Auditor-General's Office (1992). Integrated Education for Children with Disabilities, Melbourne, Victoria.

Victorian Department of Education, Employment and Training (2001). Better services, better outcomes in Victorian government schools: A review of educational services for students with special educational needs, including students with learning difficulties, disabilities and impairments, Melbourne, Australia.

Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (2012). Held back: the experiences of students with disabilities in Victorian schools, Melbourne, Australia.

Victorian Government (2010). Equal Opportunity Act 2010.

Victorian Government (2006). Education Training and Reform Act 2006.

Consultation

Consultations were run with more than 100 participants representing 24 organisations, facilitated by Dr Graeme Innes, the former Australian Disability Discrimination Commissioner.

170 submissions were received from the public and there were 1400 respondents to an online survey to determine the attitudes of key stakeholder groups towards potential policy options.