There are many ways that your child’s school – in partnership with you and others – can support your child’s learning.
On this page:
- Inclusive and universal approaches
- What is a ‘reasonable adjustment’?
- Supporting diverse learners – an evolving field
- For more information
Visit the section Education and your child’s rights for information about schools legal obligations to support your child’s access and participation at school, make adjustments to the curriculum, environment, assessment and teaching approaches, provide support services and address bullying and behaviour management.
Inclusive and universal approaches
There are many students with disabilities in all types of school settings across Victoria. School leaders, school councils and staff should take an inclusive approach to decision-making, which considers the needs of all students, teachers and the school community. An inclusive approach can inform decisions from the planning of building works, to new programs, curriculum planning processes, professional development and the venue for school camps.
Equally, at the classroom level, teachers can make plans and choose teaching and learning strategies that are inclusive, and meet the needs of a range of students, including those with disabilities. Often, adjustments made to support students with disabilities can be ‘universal’ in application – for example, the teacher can choose class activities or an excursion with your child’s needs in mind. Adjustments for one student can also often be helpful to others, including those with undiagnosed additional needs. New skills gained in professional development can help to build capacity across the school, to better meet the needs of all students with additional needs.
“It was really important for me to have [Xavier’s] speech pathologist come into the school, his occupational therapist to come into the school, and work with his aides to set them up so that they could support him effectively …
Things just started happening, with his therapists coming out to school. He was able to complete the work more quickly, because his aides had the skills. They’d been skilled up to the point where they had that much knowledge that they could take a topic, and they knew where to go to get the information. They knew how to scaffold it.
So where kids might be having massive projects, Xav might just be having to research a few things using youtube and googling pictures. So he had a lot more picture content the other kids, and he would have a few sentence. But the aides could actually highlight the words that he’d chosen from his communication system. They may have had to fill in the gaps, but they could actually assess that, as the year went on, he was doing more of the writing himself. So he was able to produce work that was his, and I could see it was his. So his confidence just grew.” Christel
What is a ‘reasonable adjustment’?
Your child has a legal right to opportunities and choices comparable with those offered to students without a disability, including to participate in their school’s learning programs and to use school facilities. Comparable does not necessarily mean the same. Indeed, the school might need to do a number of things differently (make ‘reasonable adjustments’), to ensure your child has equal access to the curriculum.
Many school programs can be adjusted to be accessible and appropriate for your child. For example, the teacher might choose activities for the whole class with your child’s access needs in mind. Or they might modify classroom activities or the classroom itself, adjust the curriculum or adjust their teaching or assessment approaches.
If an activity, facility, service or program cannot be adjusted or made accessible or suitable for your child, the school is legally required to offer them an alternative comparable to what is offered to other students. Importantly, this alternative should be comparable in educational value, in light of the broad educational program. Your child should not miss out on an aspect of learning or be left to fend for themselves, if the mainstream curriculum or activities do not suit them. Like all students, your child should be challenged and supported to learn, and to achieve their potential.
- Read more about your child’s legal rights within the education system.
Supporting diverse learners – an evolving field
The Disability Standards for Education and the various DET policies and guidelines relevant to students with disabilities do not spell out exactly what adjustments schools should make, because every student is different.
New approaches to supporting the learning of students with disabilities – and of all students – are constantly being developed. Teachers and school leaders (and indeed parents and carers) can often find new research online, or deepen their knowledge through professional development and input from expert practitioners.
Quotes and stories woven throughout Learning Together include examples of many different, successful adjustments to meet their child’s learning and support needs. Many strategies and adjustments are described in the section on supports available to students with disabilities and further examples briefly outlined on our page on examples of adjustments. None of these should be seen as prescriptive, but are offered as examples, to help you and your child’s SSG to find the best ways to engage your child and support their learning, throughout their education journey.
For more information
- See Examples of adjustments.
- Visit the section Education and your child’s rights for information about schools legal obligations to support your child’s access and participation at school, make adjustments to the curriculum, environment, assessment and teaching approaches, provide support services and address bullying and behaviour management.