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There are many programs and resources available to help schools meet the needs of all students, including students with disabilities.
The Program for Students with Disabilities (PSD) is one such program. It gives government schools extra funding to help them support students with disability and high needs.
Schools use the funding in different ways, depending on the needs of each child.
This can include:
- specialist staff, such as occupational therapists, physiotherapists and speech pathologists
- specialist equipment like assistive technology
- training for teachers so they know more about your child’s disability or additional needs
- specialist teachers
- education support staff such as teacher aides.
Who is the PSD funding for
PSD funding is available for schools who are supporting children with disability and high needs. There are seven categories of eligibility criteria.
- a significant physical disability and/or
- a significant health impairment, and
- requires regular paramedical support.
- visual acuity less than 6/60 with corrected vision, or
- that visual fields are reduced to a measured arc of less than 10 degrees.
- a bilateral sensory-neural hearing loss that is moderate/severe/profound, and
- the child needs intervention or assistance to communicate.
Severe behaviour disorder
- displays disturbed behaviour to a point where special support in a withdrawal group or special class/unit is required, and
- displays behaviour so deviant and with such frequency and severity that they require regular psychological or psychiatric treatment, and
- severe behaviour that cannot be accounted for by intellectual disability, sensory (vision, hearing), physical and/or health issues, autism spectrum disorder or severe language disorder, and
- a history and evidence of an ongoing problem with an expectation of continuation during the school years.
- sub-average general intellectual functioning demonstrated which is demonstrated by a full-scale score of two standard deviations or more below the mean score on a standardised individual test of general intelligence, and
- significant deficits in adaptive behaviour established by a composite score of two standard deviations or more below the mean on an approved standardised test of adaptive behaviour, and
- a history and evidence of an ongoing problem with an expectation of continuation during the school years.
Autism Spectrum Disorder
- a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, and
- significant deficits in adaptive behaviour established at a composite score of two standard deviations or more below the mean on an approved standardised test of adaptive behaviours, and
- significant deficits in language skills established by a comprehensive speech pathology assessment demonstrating a composite score of two standard deviations or more below the mean.
Severe language difficulties with critical educational needs
- a score of three or more standard deviations below the mean for the child’s age in expressive and/or receptive language skills on two of the recommended tests, and
- the severity of the disorder cannot be accounted for by hearing impairment, social emotional factors, low intellectual functioning or cultural factors, and
- a history and evidence of an on-going problem with the expectation of continuation during school years, and
- a non-verbal score not lower than one standard deviation below the mean on one comprehensive intellectual test, with a significant (p‹0.05) difference between verbal (VCI) and non-verbal (VSI/PRI) functioning (VCI‹VSI/PRI), and
- demonstrated critical educational needs equating to Program for Students with Disabilities funding levels three and above as determined by the validated results of the Educational Needs Questionnaire.
For more information about the PSD eligibility criteria speak to your child’s school.
Applying for PSD funding
If you think your child’s school could apply for one of the seven categories of the PSD, talk to the school principal. When you meet, bring copies of your child’s medical reports and assessments along with you.
If the principal thinks it’s possible to apply for funding, they’ll set up a student support group. You'll be part of the group.
The student support group helps find the best category for the application. They help gather any other documents – such as reports – to support the application.
The group also completes an Educational Needs Questionnaire. This includes your child’s needs and helps the school recognise how best to support them.
The information gathered by the student support group may include medical reports from your child’s doctor, physiotherapist, psychologist, speech pathologist or other allied health professionals. You’ll be responsible for giving up-to-date reports to the school. Talk to your child’s school about timelines so you can make appointments if needed.
The student support group may also gather information from an
early intervention program.
Under the categories of intellectual disability or severe language difficulties,
Assessments Australia carry out the assessment. You'll get some forms to sign to give permission for this to happen. You'll also be asked for information about your child.
When the application is ready, it is sent to the Department’s Resources Coordination Group. The group includes professionals and representatives from the Department.
The Resources Coordination Group checks the application to make sure it meets the eligibility criteria. The Department will let the school know if the application is successful. They'll also tell them what funding they'll get to help support your child at school. The school will let you know what the outcome is.
It’s important to remember that support at school is not dependent on on your child being eligible for the PSD. Schools make
reasonable adjustments for all students with disability, even if they don’t meet the PSD’s eligibility guidelines. If the PSD application is not successful, there are other resources to support your child.
If the PSD application is successful
If the application is successful, your child’s school will get the funding. The student support group will meet to talk about how your child’s learning and support plan and how best to support your child’s needs.
The group meet each term to talk about how your child is developing and to see if their needs have changed.
PSD funding reviews
A review of the PSD usually happens when your child is starting secondary school. This happens for children in specialist schools based on their age.
The review makes sure your child is getting the right support for their needs. It also helps the student support group to know how your child’s needs have changed over time.
The student support group prepares the review, and the principal submits it to the Resources Coordination Group.
If PSD funding is no longer suitable, the secondary school will get Transition Support Funding. This helps support setting up personalised teaching and learning programs for your child when they start secondary school.
If your child’s needs change over time, the school could ask for the amount of funding to be reconsidered. This is called a reappraisal.
To submit a reappraisal, the school principal and the student support group, which includes you, meet to complete a new Educational Needs Questionnaire. You might also need to get new assessments or reports from your child’s medical professional to support the reappraisal. The principal sends the application to the Department’s Resources Coordination Group and will tell you what the outcome is.
If the PSD application is not successful
If the PSD application is not successful, there are other supports available.
The student support group will meet to talk about how best to support your child’s needs and also discuss your child’s learning and support plan.
The group may continue to meet to talk about how your child is developing and to see if their needs have changed.
Schools must make reasonable adjustments to help meet your child’s needs. Reasonable adjustments are made regardless of PSD funding. There may be some circumstances where adjustments are not reasonable.
Schools get funding through the Student Resource Package for every child. This funding is provided so that schools can meet the needs of all students. The Student Resource Package includes the
Language and Learning Disabilities Program funding.
They also have access to student support services such as:
- speech pathologists
- visiting teachers
- social workers.
The student support group can continue to plan for your child’s learning and support needs.
Roles and responsibilities in the PSD application process
Responsibilities of your child’s school:
- explaining the PSD to you
- creating the student support group
- collecting and submitting information about your child’s educational needs and possible eligibility for PSD
- making referrals to Assessment Australia
- working with you to make sure your child’s application is correct
- making sure you have given consent and signed documents where necessary
- submitting the application
- telling you and the student support group about the application’s result
- giving feedback if the application is not successful
- giving you a copy of your child’s application if you ask for it
- making sure your child’s application and health information is confidential
- giving you a written privacy security statement.
Responsibilities of student support group (this includes you):
- identifying your child’s learning and support needs
- gathering and reviewing evidence to determine any reasonable adjustments to teaching and learning methods
- giving advice and guidance on the best educational programs for your child
- developing a personalised learning and support plan for your child
- helping teachers put your child’s learning plan and reasonable adjustments in place
- advising the principal about the educational needs of your child and the types of resources that will meet their needs
- checking your child’s needs each term, and at other times if asked for.
Responsibilities of the Department:
- evaluating applications and telling the school if they're successful or not.
Responsibilities of Assessments Australia:
- doing assessments for PSD applications, if the application is for the categories of intellectual disability or severe language disorder with critical educational need.
Responsibilities of parents/carers:
- talking to the school about your child’s disability and needs
- getting medical reports during your child’s doctor or specialist appointments
- giving a copy of your child’s medical and other reports to support their application
- reading over your child’s application forms to make sure they’re correct
- signing your child’s application
- taking part in student support group meetings.
The Victorian Government has launched Disability Inclusion, a new world leading reform package for children with disability in Victorian government schools.
Visit Disability Inclusion: extra support for children with disability for more information.