Planning for students with disability

It is not the responsibility of an individual teacher to make decisions about appropriate curriculum options and adjustments on their own

Claudia Vera
City Organiser 

The Every Student, Every School policy has left teachers feeling they are solely responsible for the special needs of their students. The emphasis is at times incorrectly placed on the production of a document as the core teacher responsibility, when in fact this often detracts from the most important element — the collaborative planning process.

Individualised planning for students with disability is a collaborative and ongoing process that may include the development of a document separate to the class program, commonly known as an Individual Education Program.

The teacher is expected to follow the Department’s policies (in doing so they are complying with the legislative requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act), implement the Board of Studies’ syllabuses and make adjustments where necessary.

The teacher is expected to take part in a collaborative planning process to determine, implement and evaluate adjustments to teaching and learning to enable the student to access the curriculum on the same basis as their peers.

The expectation is that adjustments to teaching and learning be recorded.

For a student in a support class or School for Specific Purpose, the process may involve the design of a document that presents information from the different stages of the planning process — Individual Education Program. It is an intensive planning process that is made somewhat more manageable with the smaller number of students in these classes but should be supported by appropriate provision of time and resources.

For a student with disability in a regular class in a mainstream setting, there is no requirement for a separate Individual Education Program document. The planning process is reflected in the teacher’s class program and other related documentation. The Department’s memorandum (DN/03/00030) states: “the learning program for a regular class should be inclusive of all students and specific individual learning programs are not required for students with disabilities.”

The collaborative planning process, by its very nature, makes clear that it is not the responsibility of an individual teacher to make decisions about appropriate curriculum options and adjustments on their own. The process should involve those people who know and have been involved with the student, such as the parent/carer, the student’s teacher and other service providers.

Though each school may approach this process differently, it would be expected that the Learning Support Team play a central role in the coordination of this process and any additional support required.

If practices at your school do not facilitate a collaborative planning approach, leave teachers isolated in responding to student need or create unnecessary additional work load, raise the matter through your Federation Workplace Committee or with your local Organiser.