Policy last updated

25 January 2022


  • Schools

February 2022



This policy sets out the requirements for schools operating approved early education programs.


  • Early education programs operate in a defined group of specialist schools.
  • Early education programs provide supports for young children who have a disability or developmental delay.
  • Supports are supplementary to kindergartens or other early childhood services and are separate from the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
  • School responsibilities for care, health, safety and wellbeing extend to children participating in early education programs.


A defined group of specialist schools deliver group-based early education programs for young children (prior to school age) who have a disability or developmental delay.

Supports delivered through early education programs are in addition to those provided in kindergartens or other early childhood services and are separate from those provided through the NDIS.

Specialist schools operating early education programs

North Eastern Victoria Region

  • Aurora School
  • Burwood East Special Developmental School
  • Croydon Special Developmental School
  • Monash Special Developmental School
  • Verney Road School
  • Yarra Ranges Special Developmental School

North Western Victoria Regions

Diamond Valley Special Developmental School

South Eastern Victoria Region

  • Bayside Special Developmental School
  • Dandenong Valley Special Developmental School
  • Frankston Special Developmental School
  • Mornington Special Developmental School
  • Port Phillip Specialist School
  • Southern Autistic School
  • Springvale Park Special Developmental School
  • Yarrabah School

South Western Victoria Region

  • Colac Specialist School
  • Furlong Park School For Deaf Children


Schools delivering approved early education programs cater for children aged between 2 years and 8 months and 4 years and 8 months as at 1 January of that year. In addition, Aurora School provides services from birth. At any given time, a child may participate in one early education program only.

Schools must develop a regionally approved intake policy for early education programs detailing:

  • age eligibility
  • evidence requirements for a disability or developmental delay
  • other documentation requirements
  • priority order of placement (when there are insufficient places for all children who seek entry)
  • intake approval.

Documentation and other requirements for enrolment in schools also apply to children participating in early education programs, including intake forms, evidence of name and date of birth, and immunisation history. Details for children participating in early education programs must be maintained in the CASES21 Student Information Database.

Schools will be expected to develop intake policies during 2023 with a draft template policy to be provided.

Intake approval to the early education program falls within the authority of the school principal. In line with the school’s intake policy, some intake requests may also require endorsement from a regional director.


Early education programs must be led by a qualified teacher. The program must emphasise communication, social emotional capability and learning, within child-centred practice.

Early education programs work within the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework to deliver a comprehensive curriculum program to facilitate children's learning and development.

Early education programs are not regulated early childhood services under the Education and Care Services National Law or Children’s Services Act 1996 or NDIS providers, and do not replace education and core supports accessed through these sectors.

Responsibilities and oversight

School responsibilities for care, health, safety and wellbeing extend to children participating in early education programs. School level policies and procedures must consider and include their early education program and participating children.

Early education programs must also be represented in school governance, planning and reporting activities.

Early education program staffing arrangements must follow requirements and processes for school employment.

Participation in an early education program may be included as a component of a child's education program prior to school. Schools should work with families of children participating in early education programs, to promote inclusion and access to kindergarten and other community supports.

Schools must also contribute to the transition process for children moving to school.



There is no further guidance for this topic.



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Reviewed 16 February 2022