Starting school for children with additional needs

Our site also has specific information about different disabilities.

​Moving from kindergarten to primary school can be an exciting step for your child.

If your child has disability or additional needs, there may be extra things you need to think about.

For an Easy English version of this topic, see:

Planning for primary school

Your child’s kindergarten teacher will work with you in the year before your child starts school to set up a plan.  This will be as part of your child's program support group.

The plan may include things like:

  • reasonable adjustments or resources they may need at school
  • using support groups to connect your family, health and education professionals
  • collecting reports or advice that might need to be shared with the school – for example, medical reports
  • contacting the school early so they have enough time to make any reasonable adjustments.

This plan is called enhanced transition.

Benefits of planning

Making a plan helps make sure:

  • there are no surprises when your child starts school, because the school has all the information they need
  • there are no interruptions to your child's learning
  • your child has a positive experience when they start school.

Program support group meetings

This is a meeting that plans for your child's move to school. It includes:

  • your family
  • your support person or advocate, if you choose to have one
  • your child's early childhood educator
  • a person from your child's future school
  • any other health or education professionals that are appropriate.

The meeting usually happens by term 3 in the year before your child starts school.

The purpose of the meeting is to talk about:

  • your child's abilities, strengths and needs
  • any previous programs that have helped your child
  • what your child will need at school, like adjustments or extra help
  • the school's orientation program and organise visits
  • what programs or funding your child might be eligible for.

A transition coordinator will be chosen during the meeting. There will also be notes taken which record who will take responsibility for which action, and when they need to complete it.

What you may want to share with the school

You should share any information you think is important. You may want to talk about:

  • your child's interests and strengths
  • any fears or anxieties about starting school
  • what to do in an emergency
  • tips for daily self-care
  • what can help settle your child or help them respond to instructions
  • how the school can help them be independent
  • things that trigger stress
  • what you may want to tell other families about your child
  • assessment reports or medical background.

What the school may want to know

The school may ask for information, like:

  • how your child's disability or developmental delay affects their learning
  • how the disability affects them taking part in school activities
  • if there are any strategies to help them move to school
  • what programs they've used in the past year
  • if there's anything else that would help in making a smooth move to school.

Attending government schools

All Victorian government schools get assistance to help students with disabilities or developmental delays.

This may be through:

  • the student resource package – this is the standard way government schools are funded
  • student support services – a group of health professionals such as psychologists, speech pathologists and social workers
  • programs and resources.

Attending non-government schools

If your child is starting at a Catholic or independent school, you should contact the school for advice on how they can support your child.

A program support group may still be set up for your child.

Get information

If you need more information, speak to your child's kindergarten or future school.​

You can also find resources and information on AllPlay Learn, a program created in partnership with Deakin University.