Developing an individual education plan

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Student support groups are responsible for developing an individual education plan (IEP) for:

  • Koorie students
  • students with disabilities
  • students in out of home care.

An IEP is a written statement of the educational program designed to meet a student’s individual needs.

An IEP should:

  • outline a meaningful educational program
  • be age appropriate, holistic in its approach, flexible and future orientated
  • consider  long-term goals that reflect learning outcomes in social, academic and life skills development
  • create short-term goals that will lead to the achievement of long-term goals
  • ensure that the goals are measurable, achievable, supported, time-framed and aim to retain the student at school
  • clearly communicate individual and shared responsibilities
  • provide guidance for the student support group
  • contain a record of important decisions, actions, student behaviour and progress
  • be a useful transition tool
  • acknowledge and celebrate the achievement of student progress
  • be reviewed at least every six months, or as regularly as needed.

For more information see templates for primary and secondary IEPs.   

Process for an individual education plan

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1. Identify the student’s strengths and needs

Using direct observation and assessment, the student support group should identify the student’s interests, aspirations, strengths, skills and abilities. The Victorian Careers Curriculum Framework can be used to support this process.

Template 1 can help schools gather and analyse information to develop a profile of a student as a learner.

Students should have a say and a legitimate voice in how the education system works for them.

Student voice not only allows students to engage and participate meaningfully in their own learning, it contributes to building leadership, confidence and other skills that ensure student wellbeing.

Student voice acknowledges that students have unique perspectives on learning, teaching and schooling, and they should have the opportunity to actively shape their own education.

The student should be involved in the Student Support Group meetings where possible. Some examples of how the student voice can be included are:

  • student attends the Student Support Group meeting
  • student attends for part of the Student Support Group meeting to provide input
  • school staff member meets with the student to gain their perspective and input to take back to the Student Support Group. 

In some cases, the student’s age or severity of disability may restrict direct participation. However, in all cases, the preferences and interests of the student, regardless of how they are expressed, should be actively considered when planning programs.

See more information about Student Voice and Student Voice Practice.

2. Understand the learning environment

This may include:

  • the layout of the school including location and accessibility of classrooms, toilets and playground
  • equipment requirements, for example seating or tables.  These should be ordered early to make sure they are available when the student starts school
  • the acoustic environment, noise levels and lighting.

3. Focus on planning

When planning for students with additional learning needs, it is important to focus on the student taking an active role in the community in the future.

In ongoing planning, transition stages (including kindergarten to primary school, primary to secondary and secondary to post-school options) need to be linked to specific goals. Careful planning for these times is also necessary.

Career Action Plans should complement, not replace, personalised learning and support planning. To keep planning documents consistent, it is recommended that careers practitioners, teachers and trainers work with the Student Support Group to set the goals of the learning plan. For further information see Career Action Plans.

4. Set teaching and learning goals

In the Individual Education Plan, all goals should be:

  • designed to ensure the participation of the student in their classroom programs
  • based on curriculum content and experiences similar to those for same-age peers.

The Student Support Group should set short and long term goals that:

  • enable the student to undertake a meaningful educational program
  • are realistic, achievable and measure the student’s progress
  • describe the expected learning outcomes for a student at the end of the school year
  • can be measured against the Victorian Curriculum, ranging from Level A to Level  10
  • describe the actual performance expected at the end of the year, and the level of performance the student should exhibit to show successful achievement of the goal
  • enable the school to report the academic progress of students with personalized learning and support planning in a similar manner to other students in the school.

Long term (annual) goals

Long term (annual) goals describe the expected behaviour or skill to be achieved by the end of the school year. Long term goals need to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound.

Short term goals

Short term goals identify the sub-skills that are required for a student to achieve a long term (annual) goal. Short term goals specify what should be achieved within a certain timeframe, from a week through to a semester. They also need to be specific. Short term goals are set/reviewed at each Student Support Group meeting.

Template 2 can help schools identify information that will support the development of educational goals.

5. Identify adjustments that will meet the student’s needs

It is important that content taught to students with disabilities and additional learning needs is related to what the rest of the class is learning. Choice of activities should reflect the individual needs of the student. The activities should be:

  • comprehensive and balanced
  • age appropriate
  • relevant and functional.

There should be a broad selection of activities for a student to choose from. 

The Student Support Group is encouraged to use resources and advice available in the Support students with additional learning needs section of our website.  

The Abilities Based Learning and Education Support (ABLES) resources can also inform the development of a learning plan for students with disabilities.

Template 3 can help schools develop an ABLES and Victorian Curriculum Learning Plan. 

6. Select priorities

Students with disabilities and additional learning needs may learn at differing rates from their peers. It is vital that maximum teaching time is spent on identified priorities.

Activities given greatest priority need to be those that build on and extend the strengths of the student and form the foundation for more complex tasks.

7. Record achievement

All students should be assessed against the Victorian Curriculum. For students with a Student Support Group, achievement information in the Victorian Curriculum should be established and recorded to inform ongoing planning.

8. Determine organisational strategies

Organisational strategies need to address the questions of when, where, by whom and with whom the curriculum is to be delivered. For example, the:

  • appropriateness of the environment for the student’s learning
  • time necessary to teach an activity
  • time required for practice
  • need for intensive teaching times to coincide with the times of day when the student learns best.

Programs for students with disabilities and additional learning needs may include:

  • individual learning
  • small group learning
  • peer and cross-age tutoring
  • co-operative learning arrangements consistent with those used for other class members. 

Flexible groupings of students in classrooms will allow for a variety of learning groups for students.

Team-teaching and the sharing of resources between schools, including local specialist schools, is encouraged.

Additional support may be provided by Student Support Services.

9. Monitor and evaluate

It is important that IEPs are regularly monitored and evaluated so they are responsive to the changing needs and educational progress of the student, and can be adjusted accordingly.

Template 4 can help schools monitor student progress and map future learning opportunities.

10. Related plans

Sometimes a student with diverse needs requires a number of other plans to enable their learning. Other plans that relate to or inform the development of an IEP can include: