School operations

Supporting Students in Out-of-Home Care

7 Educational Needs Analysis process

The Educational Needs Analysis (ENA) Process flowchart outlines the ENA process, including significant milestones and the timeline for completion.

While the Partnering Agreement states an ENA is required for all students who have resided in statutory out-of-home care for a period of three months or longer, it acknowledges that if a member of the student support group (SSG) has concerns regarding the student’s presentation and rate of progression the process should begin immediately.

In addition to students entering out-of-home care, students in existing care arrangements who enrol in a new school may also require an ENA depending on what has been done previously and the student’s current pre­­­sentation.

Although the ENA process is collaborative, distinct roles are prescribed for the school, DHHS Child Protection, contracted Community Service Organisations (CSOs), and Student Support Services (SSS) or equivalent. The Roles and Responsibilities Resource Guide provides a reference guide for the roles and responsibilities of individual stakeholders.

It is important that schools inform their Student Support Services Key Contact (DET) or equivalent prior to or at the time of the student’s enrolment or entry into out-of-home care. This will enable prioritisation of the referral, including planning for necessary consultation and attendance at SSG meetings.

Referral to Student Support Services

The Student Support Services (SSS) Handbook (March, 2018) outlines the role of SSS in supporting students with additional needs, including students in out-of-home care. SSS collaborate with schools to ‘undertake personalised learning and support planning for students who have specific needs and where adjustments are required to ensure the student can access and engage in their educational program’. SSS prioritise assisting schools with the ENA process (such as priority two after critical incident response).

For further information about SSS more generally, refer to the SSS HandbookExternal Link .

The steps for referring to SSS for an ENA include:

  • a pre-referral discussion between the school and SSS Key Contact. The Key Contact may be the SSS representative at the initial SSG as part of the pre-referral process
  • the school obtains consent from the parent/legal guardian or mature minor
  • the school submits the referral on the Student Online Case System (SOCS)External Link
  • the SSS Team Leader allocates the referral to the appropriate SSS team member(s).

For children and young people entering residential out-of-home care:

  • If the student is enrolled but is not attending school, the DHHS Health and Education Coordinator has the role of coordinating the ENA with the DHHS Care Team in liaison with the LOOKOUT Education Support CentreExternal Link staff.
  • If the student is attending school it is recommended that a referral for an ENA is made to the SSS or equivalent.

Independent schools arrange and fund the ENA following the student’s enrolment or entry into out-of-home care.

7.1 Step 1 – Initial student support group meeting

An SSG meeting should be convened by the school principal or delegate within one week of a student in out-of-home care enrolling in the school or entering out-of-home care.

SSG membership should include key people in the student’s life who are able to share information regarding the student’s needs and strengths, and support the implementation of strategies/interventions. The SSG will commonly consist of the principal or delegate, DHHS or CSO case manager, the carer, the classroom teacher, and SSS or equivalent. The student’s individual circumstances will determine the need for additional members, such as the student (where appropriate), Designated Teacher and/or Learning Mentor, school wellbeing staff, education support staff, Koorie Engagement Support Officer (KESO), LOOKOUT Education Support Centre representative, and/or relevant external agencies.

The purpose of the initial SSG meeting is to determine the information required to assist with maximising the holistic development and support of the student. The SSG meeting should determine whether an ENA is required and the timeline for completion. This includes a decision regarding whether an ENA should be completed immediately or up to three months after the student has entered out-of-home care. In the event of the latter, the ENA process should be commenced in anticipation (e.g. collection of information).

Where an ENA has been previously undertaken and recorded (i.e. ENA Status Report and ENA Report), the SSG will determine whether an updated ENA is required based on the relevancy of the previous ENA and the student’s current presentation.

The outcome of this discussion should be documented in the SSG meeting minutes.

A template for recording the Initial SSG meeting minutes, including a checklist to assist with determining what information is readily available and what further information may be required, is provided in the Resources tab.

This document should be saved in the appropriate secure location; for example, the student’s school file and the SSS Department Confidential Student file (DCS). Access to this document should be limited to all members of the SSG and staff who work directly with the student. If parts of this information need to be shared beyond those working directly with the student, only a summary of should be shared, as needed for the activity. This document is not to include detailed case notes on the student.

The initial SSG meeting should also determine if the student is eligible for existing programs within the educational setting, such as the Program for Students with Disabilities (PSD) (DET) or Students with Disabilities program (SWD) Catholic Education Commission of Victoria Ltd (CECV). This may result in an internal referral (e.g. SSS) or external referral (for example Assessments Australia). Note: PSD applications for students in out-of-home care are not subject to the usual timelines, and can be submitted by the school at any time.

7.2 Steps 2 to 4 – Information gathering and review

This phase involves the collection and review of information determined necessary at the initial SSG meeting and the outcome of any program or external referrals. This includes the school and DHHS or CSO case manager collecting and sharing relevant information with SSS regarding the student’s needs and strengths. SSS will obtain any existing SSS Department Confidential Student file (DCS) and collate the information provided within ten weeks of the initial SSG meeting.

The most common examples of information that may be gathered as part of the ENA process are illustrated in the fact sheet Examples of Information to be Collated, available in the Resources tab. This information can provide a comprehensive and holistic picture of the student’s health, wellbeing and learning profile. Information should be gathered on a needs basis and as such the proposed sources of information outlined on the checklist are not all mandatory nor exhaustive.

7.3 Step 5 – Educational Needs Analysis with Student Support Group meeting

Following collection, collation and analysis of information by the SSS the school convenes the ENA SSG meeting with membership from the initial meeting and any other relevant stakeholders.

The purpose of the meeting is to determine whether the information currently available is sufficient for the ENA to inform a comprehensive individual education plan (IEP) or personal learning plan (PLP), or whether additional information is required.

If current information is deemed sufficient the ENA is considered complete and recorded in the ENA Status Report (available in the Resources tab) and the ENA Report (available in the Resources tab) is completed by SSS or equivalent.

The SSG then proceeds to develop or update the IEP or PLP and implement the recommendations. The follow-up SSG meeting will review this decision using the most recent ENA Status Report.

Alternatively, the SSG may determine that further information by SSS and/or external agency is required. This should be recorded in the ENA Status Report and include:

  • The information required and how this will be gathered
  • The person(s) responsible for the agreed tasks
  • The date of the follow-up ENA SSG

The ENA SSG meeting may also identify the need for further intervention by SSS or equivalent or an external agency. This may include referral pathways for students with a suspected or diagnosed disability (for example PSD, SWD). It is important to note that assessment as part of a disability funding application may not provide all relevant information and there may be a need to explore other aspects of the student’s presentation and development. In addition, SSS or equivalent may need to provide support to the school to implement the ENA recommendations.

7.4 Steps 6 to 7 – Need for further information

SSS or equivalent will complete the ENA Report after the agreed actions have been undertaken. The ENA Status Report may be completed prior to or finalised during the ENA SSG meeting based on the discussion that occurs.

The follow-up ENA SSG meeting will provide an opportunity to share the finalised report(s) including recommendations, and develop or update the student’s IEP or PLP.

The school, DHHS or CSO case manager and SSS will retain a copy of reports and other relevant records (such as meeting minutes) as per their usual record keeping policies. This will ensure information regarding a student’s support needs is accessible and shared as appropriate over time.

Educational Needs Analysis status report and Educational Needs Analysis report

There are two templates to assist in the ENA process between steps 5 to 7, the ENA Status Report and the ENA Report (available in the Resources tab).

Educational Needs Analysis status report

The ENA Status Report is a mandatory tool used to record the status of an individual student’s ENA at various points in time, and enables monitoring of responsibilities as outlined in the Partnering Agreement.

The report is a brief summary of the ENA process, including the student’s needs and strengths, the views of the student and carer, and key recommendations.

The report is signed by the principal or delegate, and SSS, Student Services (CECV) or independent school equivalent.

A copy of the ENA Status Report needs to be kept in the student’s school file and the SSS Department Confidential Student file (DCS) to allow for easy access, tracking and transfer of information, if the student moves schools.

ENA Report

The ENA Report is a comprehensive report completed by SSS or equivalent, which documents the collation, review, and analysis of information regarding the student’s needs, strengths and subsequent recommendations.

The report should assist schools to prioritise the needs of the student and support required, and be simply worded and include practical recommendations that can be implemented in the educational setting.

The report is written with the broader context of the student in mind and provides recommendations that are relevant to and guide the behaviours of all adults, both in school and in the care setting, who have a role in establishing optimal conditions for learning and supporting the student to achieve positive educational outcomes.

The ENA report may highlight need for services required to cater for a student’s needs in other areas of their lives and may also inform the care team’s actions; however, its key function is to inform what can be done to promote educational progress.

The ENA Report is required regardless of whether the ENA reflects existing information or additional assessment, and aims to ensure information regarding a student’s educational needs and strengths is documented and recommendations are readily available to current and future educational settings. An example ENA Report template is provided in the Resources tab.

In situations where the SSS team leader has allocated the ENA referral to more than one SSS team member, it is recommended that the SSS team members involved in the ENA process write the ENA Report collaboratively.

A copy of the ENA Report needs to be stored as per DET guidelines in the DCS and shared with relevant parties, such as school principal, the person who has signatory rights (for example the biological parent or DHHS), case manager, and others as deemed appropriate.

7.5 Step 8 – Review cycle

Students residing in out-of-home care require at least termly SSG meetings to review their presentation and progress, and refine and evaluate current interventions, including a review of the IEP or PLP. Referring to the ENA Status Report and ENA Report during SSG meetings will assist in this process, and also assist to determine when an updated ENA is required.

Students in out-of-home care tend to experience frequent changes in care and school placement, increased vulnerability during periods of transition, and may exhibit signs of disengagement from education during mid-secondary school years. Therefore, it is important to monitor and review the progress of students in out-of-home care regularly and pre-emptively to ensure the student is adequately supported.

Chapter 7 of the Out-of-Home Care Guidelines on the Educational Needs Process, including significant milestones and the timeline for completion

Reviewed 04 January 2023

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