Policy last updated
15 June 2020
- School councils
The purpose of this policy is to assist Victorian government schools to support students with disabilities and diverse learning needs.
- Schools must establish a Student Support Group (SSG) for students supported by the Program for Students with Disabilities (PSD).
- Schools must establish an SSG for every child and young person in out-of-home care (OoHC).
- An SSG is strongly encouraged for any student with diverse learning needs.
- Schools must provide support for students at risk of attendance or behaviour related issues. An SSG may assist a school providing appropriate and effective support.
An SSG is a partnership between schools, parents/carers, the student and relevant agencies. The group works together to plan and support the educational, health, social, cultural and emotional wellbeing of students with diverse learning needs. This may include students:
- with a disability or diverse learning needs, including, but not limited to, students supported by the PSD
- in OoHC
- who are Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
- with a behaviour support plan
- from refugee or migrant backgrounds
- on youth justice orders or having transitioned from the youth justice system
- who are identified as young carers.
Schools must establish an SSG:
- for students supported by the PSD
- for every child and young person in OoHC.
Schools must provide support for students at risk of attendance or behaviour related issues. An SSG may assist a school in providing appropriate and effective support.
An SSG is strongly encouraged for any student with diverse learning needs, including those with Autism.
Role of a student support group
An SSG is responsible for developing and implementing an Individual Education Plan (IEP). This plan should:
- be developed in consultation with members of the SSG and the student where appropriate
- outline a meaningful educational program with high expectations for the student
- be age appropriate, holistic in its approach, support cultural needs and safety, and be flexible and future oriented
- consider key long-term goals that reflect learning outcomes in social, academic and life skills development
- establish short-term goals that will lead sequentially to the achievement of long-term goals
- ensure that the goals are SMART goals:
- Relevant and
- clearly articulate individual and shared responsibilities
- be a strength-based model with a focus on the student’s potential to achieve good educational, social and behavioural outcomes
- be supported and informed by other relevant plans such as a cultural plan or
- aim to retain the student at school
- provide guidance for the SSG
- contain a record of important decisions and actions
- be reviewed regularly in accordance with the timeline as agreed by all members of the SSG (or at least once per term).
Members and their roles
An SSG includes:
Principal/principal nominee(s) are responsible for:
- setting up SSGs
- supporting members to take part
- coordinating and chairing meetings
- ensuring meetings are held at least once a term in the case of students supported by the PSD
- ensuring notes of meetings are taken and provided to all members.
- ensuring efficient and effective meeting arrangements are in place.
Teacher/Year Level Coordinator
Teachers/Year Level Coordinators are responsible for:
- keeping the SSG updated on the student’s progress
- assisting in determining future educational goals
- ensuring that the student has access to the school’s educational programs
- implementing the classroom content of the IEP
- coordinating other staff working with the student in the classroom.
Parent/carer(s) are responsible for:
- providing a holistic view of their child
- providing information on the effectiveness of past strategies and programs
- contributing to the development and monitoring of the goals and strategies of their child’s teaching and learning program
- choosing an advocate if required.
It is important that the student plays an active and age-appropriate role in the SSG and contributes to the decisions and actions that are agreed, either in person or via a trusted adult, for example, their Learning Mentor.
It is the right of parent/carer(s) to have an advocate. Advocates can help with:
- sharing the parent/carer(s)’ knowledge about the student
- discussing any difficulties the parent/carer(s)' may have in the SSG
- developing a cooperative relationship between parent/carer(s) and the school community
- assisting parent/carer(s) to understand the Department’s procedures
- linking parent/carer(s) with relevant services.
Advocates must not be paid for their help.
Where necessary an interpreter should be present at meetings to help with communication.
Consultants may provide additional knowledge of the student’s teaching and learning needs.
Meetings should be held on a regular basis, and for students on the PSD at least once a term.
Enough time should be allowed for members to prepare for the meeting. Meetings should be arranged at a time that is convenient for all members. Sample agendas are available in the Resources tab.
This Guidance contains the following chapters:
- Personalised learning and support planning
- Transition to post-school options
Effective collaboration requires planning, preparation and flexibility to build and maintain open lines of communication and shared understanding. A Student Support Group (SSG) is an effective approach for the school, parent/carer(s) and the student to work together to support the ongoing education of students’ diverse learning needs, including students:
- with a disability or diverse learning needs, including, but not limited to, students receiving support under the Program for Students with Disabilities (PSD)
- in Out of Home Care (OoHC)
- who are Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
- with a behaviour support plan
- from refugee or migrant backgrounds
- on youth justice orders or having transitioned from the youth justice system
- who are identified as young carers.
Meetings should occur at least once each term.
Under section 32 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, education providers must comply with the Disability Standards for Education 2005. The Standards cover enrolment, participation, curriculum development, student support services and the elimination of harassment and victimisation. When planning an adjustment for the student, the school should consult with the parent/carer(s) and, where appropriate, the student, through the SSG process, about:
- the proposed adjustment and consider issues such as whether the adjustment is reasonable
- the extent to which the adjustment would achieve its intended aim, and
- whether there is any other reasonable adjustment that would be more suitable.
To maximise opportunities for students with disabilities to succeed, policy and practice within schools should reflect:
- collaboration between teachers and students, parent/carer(s), education and health professionals to develop agreed understandings and responses to a student’s behaviours, needs, communication skills and learning needs
- curriculum-based Individual Education Plan (IEP) informed by the SSG that sets out the student’s short-term and long-term learning goals based on the Victorian Curriculum, Abilities Based Learning and Education Support (ABLES) assessments and other relevant information
- teaching and learning strategies that take account of a student’s background, experiences, individual personality and individual goals
- opportunities for the student to develop knowledge, skills and behaviours in a range of domains and contexts
- opportunities for all students to participate in classroom activities with other students
For further information about the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and the Disability Standards for Education 2005 refer to:
Schools have similar obligations under the Victorian Equal Opportunity Act 2010 and Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006. Further information about the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 and Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 is available at .
1.1 Inclusive Education
The Department is committed to embedding inclusive education in all school environments for students with diverse learning needs. All Victorians, irrespective of the school they attend, where they live or their social or economic status, should have access to high quality education.
For information and resources on Education for all, the Department's vision for inclusive education, refer to:
The aims of the Student Support Group (SSG) are to:
- ensure that those with the most knowledge of, and responsibility for, the student work together to establish shared goals for the student’s education
- plan reasonable adjustments for the student to access the curriculum and participate in their education
- provide educational planning that is ongoing throughout the student’s school life
- monitor the progress of the student
The SSG makes recommendations to the principal/principal nominee for their consideration and potential implementation
In order to achieve these aims it is the responsibility of the Student Support Group (SSG) to:
- identify the student’s needs
- determine any adjustments to be made to the curriculum, teaching and learning
- plan an appropriate educational program
- develop an IEP
- discuss the plan with teachers and provide support to implement the IEP
- provide advice to the principal/principal nominee concerning the additional educational and support needs of the student and what may be required to meet these needs
- review and evaluate the student’s program once per term, and at other times if requested by any member of the group
It is essential that a cooperative working relationship is developed and maintained within the SSG and with the school.
The SSG represents a partnership in the educational planning process between the parent/carer(s), the student and the school.
A Student Support Group consists of:
- the parent/carer(s) of the student
- a parent/carer(s)' advocate, where chosen by the parent/carer(s)
- a teacher or teachers nominated as having lead responsibility for the student
- the principal/principal nominee, to act as chairperson, and
- the student, where appropriate
The SSG may invite input from any other person with knowledge of the student or with information relevant to the educational or social needs of the student (Consultants).
The number and choice of the consultants should be agreed to by all members of the SSG. The information provided by the consultants will be for the consideration of the group in decision making. Consultants do not have a role in the final decision making process of the SSG.
Where a student supported by an SSG is attending two schools (for example a mainstream and a specialist school) the SSG should be convened by the school where the student attends the majority of time. The principal/principal nominee of the other school should also be a member of the SSG.
Similarly, where a student is being assessed through the PSD’s Year 6-7 Review process, the secondary school in which the student anticipates enrolling should be invited to join the SSG.
4.1 Principal/Principal Nominee
When parent/carer(s) seek to enrol a child with a disability into a school, the principal/principal nominee should provide them with information about specific support available to facilitate the student’s participation in the school’s education program.
It is the responsibility of the principal/principal nominee to facilitate the collaborative processes of the SSG by offering support to all members and ensuring their participation. For this to occur, the principal/principal/nominee may enlist the support of an interpreter, advocate or other organisations providing support (where appropriate).
The principal/principal nominee shall convene and chair SSG meetings on a regular basis, at least once per term. The principal/principal nominee ensures that accurate records of the SSG meetings are kept and provided to all members.
4.2 Classroom Teacher/Year Level Coordinator
The classroom teacher will provide the SSG with current information regarding the student’s progress and assist in determining future educational goals.
It is the classroom teacher’s responsibility to ensure that the student has access to the school’s educational programs and implements the classroom content of IEPs. Other staff working with the student do so under the direction of a nominated classroom teacher.
4.3 Parents and Carers
Parent/carer(s) play a vital role in the SSG. They have a holistic understanding of the child and provide ongoing involvement in their education. Parent/carer(s) are often in the best position to provide information on the effectiveness and practicality of particular strategies and programs. They provide knowledge and experience of previous events that may influence programming decisions. Parent/carer(s) are able to contribute to the goals and strategies that will support the education of their child, including their transition to further education, training and employment.
Where appropriate the student should be part of the program development process. 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
4.5 Parent/Carer(s)’ Advocate
Parent/carer(s) may be accompanied and supported by an advocate to assist their full participation in planning and supporting the student’s program and in making decisions about the student.
The role of the parent/carer(s) ’ advocate in the SSG is a constructive, supportive and enabling one.
It may include:
- encouraging the sharing of the parent/carer(s)’ knowledge, skills and perceptions about the student with the SSG
- discussing any difficulties or uncertainties being experienced by the parent/carer(s) in participating in the SSG
- assisting the development of a co-operative and collaborative working relationship between the parent/carer(s) and the school community
- assisting the parent/carer(s) to understand Department of Education and Training procedures
- linking the parent/carer(s) with relevant services and organisations
It is the right of the parent/carer(s) to have an advocate. If they wish, a parent/carer(s)' advocate may be a friend, supportive community member, a member of the family or formal advocate. The advocate is not to be in receipt of a fee.
Where necessary, an interpreter (in languages other than English including Auslan) should be present at the SSG meetings. Interpreters are not members of the SSG. The principal/principal nominee will assist in obtaining the services of an interpreter. For further information on accessing interpreting and translation services refer to .
The SSG should ensure that input is obtained from other personnel who have relevant expertise or information to:
- assist in the establishment of teaching and learning goals for the student
- provide support in the development of teaching and learning programs
- help determine appropriate strategies to implement agreed teaching and learning programs
The Department of Education and Training provides Student Support Services (SSS) Officers, a group of professionals who provide support to students and schools. Their role is to enhance school capacity to improve student outcomes, provide continuity of care to all students, and may assist in the development of IEPs and the defining of appropriate curriculum support.
SSS Officers include:
- social workers
- speech pathologists
In addition, persons who could make a valuable contribution to the SSG include:
- Department of Health and Human Services staff
- inclusion/diverse learning needs teachers
- learning area or year level coordinators
- medical and paramedical practitioners treating the student
- preschool teachers or advisers and early intervention staff
- special education consultants
- specialist school staff
- student welfare coordinators
- education support staff
- primary welfare officers
- careers practitioner/coordinator
- teachers who have taught the student previously and other members of staff
- visiting teachers — for visually, hearing and physically impaired students
Schools are advised to work closely together to make the best use of the available resources and expertise within the local area, for example, the establishment of ongoing links between mainstream and specialist schools
A Student Support Group (SSG) is mandatory for students in the Program for Students with Disabilities (PSD) and students in Out of Home Care, and strongly encouraged for any students with additional learning needs.
The principal/principal nominee will ensure the parent/carer(s) have access to this guidance, the Program for Students with Disabilities operational guidelines for schools, and related school policy documents concerning the education of students with disabilities. This will assist the parent/carer(s) to participate fully in the process.
Sufficient time must be allowed for the SSG participants to prepare before meetings are convened, including time for the parent/carer(s) and the parent/carer(s)' advocate to meet. Meetings should be arranged at times that enable all members to be present.
SSG meetings should be convened on a regular basis (at least once per term) and as soon as practicable following a request by an SSG member.
Concerns regarding the process used by the SSG or the management of resources by the school should be resolved, if possible, with the principal. If the issue(s) cannot be resolved at the school level, the concern should be forwarded in writing to the school’s Regional Director. For Regional contact details refer to .
6 Personalised learning and planning support
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 .
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 .
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:
- 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.
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 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 .
6.3 Planning and implementing Personalised Learning and Support
Deciding what needs to be taught
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
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).
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.
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.
7 Transition to post-school options
7 Transition to post-school options
A student’s final years of school require a planned progression into participation in adult and community life through further education, training or employment. This is the fundamental goal of the Student Support Group (SSG).
In order to establish a range of options, transitions should be part of the whole-school approach to career development from Year 7 to Year 12 so that students, parent/carer(s), and teachers have explored choices and feel comfortable about the decisions to be made from an early age. Transition planning should encompass 3 major areas of adult life — education and training, employment, and independent living.
Successful transition planning is based on a partnership between parent/carer(s) and school, and involves considering the current abilities of the student, the knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours a student will need to operate successfully in the post-school environment, and the provision of appropriate strategies to ensure the needed skills are developed.
By establishing appropriate linkages to service providers such as Workplace Learning Coordinators, employment placement officers or higher education disability liaison officers, and inviting representatives to SSG meetings, agencies can increasingly become part of the planning process. This ensures a seamless transition to the most appropriate post-school option.
The Managed Individual Pathways (MIPs) initiative ensures that all students aged 15 years and over (Years 10-12) in Victorian government schools (including students with disabilities in both mainstream and specialist schools) are provided with an individual Career Action Plan and associated support as a means to make a successful transition through the senior years of education, to further education, training or employment. Additional support must also be provided to young people at risk of disengaging or not making a successful transition to further education, training or employment.
In addition, Strengthened Pathways Planning Guidelines provide advice for school staff on careers and transition planning for young people with disabilities, and brings together information about Strengthened Pathways Planning in schools, and the broad range of options available to them when they leave school.
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 Framework website.
Career Action Plans should complement, not replace, personalised learning and support Planning and the IEP. To ensure consistency between planning documents, it is recommended that careers practitioners, teachers and trainers work with members of the SSG on the goal setting component of the IEP. For further information about the Framework refer to .
- — may assist schools to gather and analyse relevant information to develop a profile of the student as a learner
- — may assist schools to identify information that will support the development of educational goals
- — will assist schools after they have completed the Abilities Based Learning and Education Support (ABLES) assessments to develop an ABLES and Victorian Curriculum Learning Plan
- — can support schools to monitor the current progress of the student at the same time as mapping the future learning opportunities for the student
Roles and Responsibilities of the Student Support Group
Student Support Group guidance for parent/carer(s)
Program for Students with Disabilities
Individual Education Plan
Resources to support the development of IEPs
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Resources
Archived SSG Guidelines
- — these are the guidelines that were available prior to PAL. The Guidance tab now contains an updated version of these guidelines.
Students at Risk Tool
Reviewed 26 February 2020