Individual education plans

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Individual education plans (IEP) assist students who require a range of supports with their education.

An IEP is a written statement that describes the adjustments, goals and strategies to meet a student’s individual educational needs so they can reach their full potential. An IEP is essential as it helps you plan and monitor a student’s unique learning needs.

IEPs are also known as individual learning plans, individual learning improvement plans and Koorie education learning plans.

An IEP should:

  • outline a meaningful educational program and encourage student voice to allow the student to engage and take part in their own learning.
  • be age appropriate, holistic in its approach, support cultural needs and safety, and be flexible and future orientated
  • create short-term goals that will lead to the achievement of long-term goals
  • make sure the goals are SMART (specific, measurable, agreed, relevant and timely)
  • be developed in consultation with members of the Student Support Group (SSG) and the student, where appropriate
  • communicate individual and shared responsibilities
  • include a record of important decisions, actions and student progress
  • be a useful transition tool
  • be a strength-based model with a focus on the student’s potential to achieve positive educational outcomes
  • acknowledge and celebrate the achievement of student progress
  • be supported and informed by other relevant plans such as a cultural plan or behaviour support plan
  • be reviewed regularly in accordance with the timeline as agreed by all members of the SSG (or at least once per term).

Teachers already undertake many activities that personalise learning experiences for students. Research has shown that when schools use a planning approach that supports personalised learning, the academic achievement of all students improves.

Students who need an individual education plan

IEPs are required for:

IEPs are also recommended for:

The importance of an individual education plan

An IEP is important because it:

  • helps you develop a learning program for individual students
  • tracks a student’s progress against SMART (specific, measurable, agreed, relevant, timely) goals
  • shares information between the school, students, the student’s family and other support professionals, for example, a Koorie Engagement Support Officer, social worker or speech pathologist
  • helps you identify resources the student may need to achieve their goals. For example, visual supports for classroom schedules and activities or audiobooks
  • promotes student confidence and engagement
  • ensures you meet your legal obligations and accountabilities for students with additional learning needs under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and the Disability Standards for Education 2005.

How to develop an individual education plan

Student support groups are responsible for developing an IEP. The group may include:

  • the student, where appropriate
  • principal
  • teacher
  • parents, guardians, carers
  • education support staff.

Students receiving the PSD or living in OOHC will already have a Student Support Group (SSG).

Interaction with families and information collected and shared, must comply with the:

Personalised learning and support planning

Individual education planning uses the four-stages personalised learning and support process.

Personalised learning and support is a framework that supports students with additional learning and support needs. The IEP template below can help.

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1. Assess: get to know your student and how they learn

You need to use a strength-based approach to learn about the student and their learning differences. Focus on the positive aspects of their abilities. This information will help develop a learning profile.

In this stage you should:

  • identify the student’s strengths and interests and any challenges or barriers to learning. For example, English as an additional language, refugee status, experiential, cultural, linguistic and social background
  • include information about the student to support their education needs, such as results of any formal/informal assessments in literacy, numeracy or social-emotional assessments, recommendations from allied health professionals, data or classroom observations
  • think about the student’s current entry level skills
  • ask the student what helps them to learn. Student voice allows students to engage and take part in their own learning. It also contributes to building leadership, confidence and other skills that ensure student wellbeing.

2. Plan: use collaborative and student-centred approaches

Make sure the student is the focus of the planning process. When planning a student’s IEP, it’s important get input from the student, their parent/carer/guardian(s) and relevant teaching and support professionals.

In this stage you should:

  • work with the SSG to develop long-term and short-term goals
  • get advice from others where relevant, for example education support staff and allied health professionals
  • review the student’s learning environment
  • monitor agreed actions and give an update at the next review meeting.

Long term goals

Long term goals describe the expected behaviour or skill to be achieved by an agreed timeline, for example by the end of the school year. Long term goals need to be SMART (specific, measurable, agreed, 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 month or a term. They also need to be specific. Short term goals are set and reviewed at each SSG meeting.

When creating long-term and short-term goals, refer to the Victorian Curriculum.

3. Teach: make adjustments that will meet the student’s needs

It’s important to create responsive teaching and learning environments and put in place teaching strategies and adjustments that address the student’s learning needs and goals. You can use the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) to help with this step in the IEP process.

Make sure your teaching strategies, adjustments and supports include how to:

  • teach the skill
  • provide multi and varied opportunities to practice the skill
  • reinforce the skill
  • include other members of the SSG to target the skill.

4. Monitor and evaluate: assess the effectiveness of the approach

An IEP is tailored to the needs of the student. It’s important that IEPs are monitored and evaluated so they are responsive to the changing needs and educational progress of the student.

An IEP should be reviewed according to the timeline agreed on by the SSG. It’s recommended to review an IEP once a term.

In this stage you should:

  • determine if the teaching strategies, adjustments and supports provided have been effective and whether the student’s goals have been achieved
  • make educational decisions based on the information to determine if:
    • the goals should be modified
    • taught in different ways or changed
    • whether current teaching strategies, adjustments and supports should continue, or if they need to be revised or replaced
  • think about what is working or not working well.

SMART goals

The goals in the IEP should be SMART:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Agreed
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound.

The SMART goals should be described in a manner that includes observable actions, a reasonable timeframe for accomplishing them and criteria that make it possible to measure the extent of the student’s progress.

Some examples of SMART goals are available in the IEP summary guide (pdf - 823.68kb) (page 7).

Resources

The Department has created new resources to support the development of IEPs including:

These resources will provide you with greater capacity to:

  • develop meaningful IEPs by applying a personalised learning and support framework
  • monitor, record and drive student progress through SMART goals
  • support students – particularly vulnerable and disadvantaged students who may have multiple plans – by reducing duplication, loss of information or conflicting plans.

Related plans

A student with diverse needs may require other plans to enable their learning. Plans should complement each other and be kept together so there are no contradictory goals and the student is not overburdened.

Other plans may include:

More information

For more information, contact Inclusive Classrooms at inclusive.classrooms@edumail.vic.gov.au.