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Student Support Groups

6  Personalised Learning and Support Planning

The focus of the Student Support Grou (SSG) is on educational planning and monitoring of a student’s progress. This planning process will enable schools to facilitate quality learning outcomes for every student with a disability. To best support the educational outcomes of students with disabilities and additional learning needs the SSG is advised to use the following sequence.

6.1  Identifying the student’s strengths and needs

Sharing an understanding of the student as a learner

Parent/carer(s) and teachers are committed to the best educational outcomes for the student and will have information to exchange concerning the student and the learning process. Parent/carer(s) bring information about the student’s skills, teaching methods that have been successful and important background information. Teachers bring expertise in designing and delivering a teaching and learning program. Consultants who have an understanding and knowledge of the student as a learner may enhance the information sharing process.

The purpose of information sharing is to bring together understandings and relevant information, and identify the implications for the student’s program. Shared information will form the foundation for deciding what to teach, how and when to teach, and how to deliver the most effective teaching and learning program to maximise outcomes for the student. It will also help provide the basis for further assessment.

Student aspirations, strengths, skills and abilities

Through direct observation and assessment the parent/carer(s), teachers and other relevant personnel can identify the student’s interests, aspirations, strengths, skills and abilities. The Victorian Careers Curriculum Framework (the Framework) could be used to support this process. The Framework is an online resource that is based on a developmental continuum of learning that supports the work of teachers, trainers and careers practitioners in the preparation of young people to make a successful transition into further education, training or employment. For further information about the Framework refer to Careers Curriculum Framework

Understanding the learning environment

The SSG will need to consider the school environment. This may include the layout of the school, location and accessibility of classrooms, toilets and playgrounds. Equipment requirements for a student with specific physical needs, for example seating or tables, should be ordered early to ensure they are available when the student commences school. Consideration may also need to be given to the acoustic environment, noise levels and lighting.

Victorian legislation requires that instruction in the standard curriculum program must be provided free to all students in Victorian government schools. Free instruction includes the provision of learning and teaching activities, instructional supports, materials and resources, and administration and facilities associated with the standard curriculum program.

The costs associated with the administration and coordination of the standard curriculum program is considered to be part of free instruction and must not be passed onto parent/carer(s). The legislation provides that parent/carer(s) of a student with a disability or impairment is not required to contribute to the cost of the provision of additional support for the education of that student. For further information about parent payments refer to Parent Payments.

Refer to Template 1 — Understanding the Student in Resources

6.2  Determining adjustments that need to be made to the curriculum

Focusing on planning

The primary focus for all students is preparation for future education and training, employment, or other aspirations. When planning for students with disabilities and additional learning needs, it is especially important to maintain a focus on the student taking an active role in the community in the future. It is essential to incorporate this focus in planning the immediate program.

Setting teaching and learning goals

The SSG considers the student’s future aspirations and sets long and short term educational goals. The important aims when setting teaching and learning goals are to:

  • ensure that all parties are in agreement with the goals
  • ensure the goals are a priority for the student
  • build on the strengths and skills of the student
  • understand the difference between long and short term goals
  • ensure the implementation of all actions to achieve goals is monitored

Long term (annual) goals

Long term (annual) goals are specific statements describing the expected behaviour or skill to be achieved by the end of the school year. Long term goals need to be SMART:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time bound

Short term goals

Short term goals are developed by identifying the sub-skills that are required for a student to achieve a long term (annual) goal. Short term goals specify what is to be achieved in periods ranging from a week through to a semester. They also need to be specific. Short term goals are set/reviewed at each SSG meeting.

Setting goals appropriate for individual students

All goals for students with disabilities and additional learning needs should be:

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

The SSG should set short and long term goals that:

  • enable the student to undertake a meaningful educational program
  • are realistic, achievable and described in a manner that makes it possible to measure the extent of the student’s progress
  • describe the expected learning outcomes for a student at the end of the school year and 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 effectively report the academic progress of students with disabilities in a similar manner to reporting the learning of all other students in the school

In ongoing planning for students with disabilities and additional learning needs, critical transition stages (including preschool to primary school, primary to secondary and secondary to post-school options) are linked to specific goals. Careful planning for these times is also necessary.

Refer to Template 2 — Goal Setting in Resources.

Career Action Plans

An important element of the Victorian Careers Curriculum Framework is the Career Action Plan. Career Action Plans reflect a student’s increased learning, building on previous planning and identified future actions. Goal setting activities are included in a student’s Career Action Plan. Support for targeted groups, including Guidelines and customised Career Action Plans for young people with disabilities, are available on the Career Action Plan Framework.

Career Action Plans should complement, not replace, Personalised Learning and Support Planning. To ensure consistency between planning documents, it is recommended that careers practitioners, teachers and trainers work with members of the Student Support Group on the goal setting component of the Learning Plan. For further information refer to Career Action Plans

6.3  Planning and implementing Personalised Learning and Support

Deciding what needs to be taught

The SSG is encouraged to utilise resources available on the Student Learning and Student Wellbeing and Engagement websites. Further advice is also available at Support Students with Additional Learning Needs.

It is important that content taught to students with disabilities and diverse 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. It is important that activities are age appropriate, relevant and functional. A sufficiently broad repertoire of activities should be selected to permit student choice of activity.

Selecting priorities for the content to be taught

Students with disabilities and diverse 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 later more complex tasks.

Individual Education Plan (IEP)

An IEP describes the adjustments, goals and strategies designed to meet the educational needs of an individual student to enable them to reach their potential. An IEP is essential in guiding the educational planning and monitoring of a student’s unique learning needs. It is the practice and process that will have the greatest impact in supporting students.

IEP resources are available to support teachers and school leaders to:

  • develop meaningful IEPs by applying a personalised learning and support framework
  • monitor, record and drive student progress through SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Relevant, Timely)
  • support students — particularly vulnerable and disadvantaged students who may have multiple plans — by reducing unnecessary duplication, loss of information or conflicting plans

Information about IEPS, the IEP template and other resources are available on the Department’s IEP website.

6.4  Recording Achievement

For students supported by the PSD and with diverse learning needs should be assessed against the Victorian Curriculum. The Victorian Curriculum provides a set of prescribed content and common achievement standards across Levels A to 10.

For students with an SSG, achievement information in the Victorian Curriculum should be established and recorded (see Template 3) to inform IEPs.  

6.5  Abilities Based Learning and Education Support

Abilities Based Learning and Education Support (ABLES) resources can provide substantial information and advice to the SSG. ABLES resources can inform the development of a Learning Plan for students with disabilities working within A to D (Towards Foundation Level in the Victorian Curriculum).

For further information about ABLES refer to Abilities Based Learning and Education Support (ABLES).

Refer to Template 3 — Recording Achievement in Resources.

Determining 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, the amount of time necessary to teach an activity and the amount of time required for practice will need to be considered.

Other factors such as the need for intensive teaching times to coincide with the times of day when the student learns best, and maximising the time spent in active student engagement, also need to be considered.

Flexible groupings of students within classrooms will allow for a variety of learning groups for students. Programs for students with disabilities and additional learning needs may include individual learning, small group learning, peer and cross-age tutoring and cooperative learning arrangements consistent with those used for other class members.

Organisational strategies will also need to be flexible. Team-teaching is to be encouraged as is the sharing of resources between schools, including local specialist schools.

Additional support may be provided by Student Support Service Officers.

6.6  Monitoring and Evaluation

Developing evaluation and review procedures

Schools are required to measure, rate and report the achievement and progress of each and every student. The evaluation/monitoring/review phase of the planning sequence for students with disabilities and additional learning needs is critical. Evaluation enables progress to be measured, the effectiveness of the program to be assessed and new goals to be developed. It is important that the teaching and learning plans for students with disabilities are constantly monitored so that they are responsive to the changing needs and educational progress of the student and can be adjusted accordingly. 

Refer to Template 4 — Program Evaluation in Resources.

Guidance chapter on Student Support Groups and the recommended sequence of considerations to best support the educational outcomes of students with disabilities and additional learning needs

Reviewed 11 June 2020

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