Identifying goals, and designing and implementing supports for students with diverse learning needs requires a team approach. This e-Learning package has been designed for parents, teachers, education support staff and allied health professionals, because of their expertise that can contribute to reasonable adjustments to meet individual student need.
Key to successful educational inclusion is sharing ideas, responsibilities and successes, rather than relying on one or two individuals in a school, or on an individual teacher to cater to all needs without input from others in a team.
Within Victorian state schools, students with disability may have a Student Support Group, which includes education and allied health staff; Catholic schools will also have access to therapists to provide a team approach.
Parents and Students
Central to the team is of course the student and parents. The student will have goals, such as wanting to have friends and be part of school activities. Parents bring knowledge of the student’s history of learning, including previous strategies that have been tried and how successful they have been. They will also have their own goals for their child, which need to be considered and discussed.
For students, the key professional is the teacher who will have responsibility for ensuring the student’s experience of inclusion in the classroom and school. The teacher also has specific expertise, in particular how to teach the Australian curriculum, and goals for the student that can relate to the school curriculum and wider school goals and activities.
Some classrooms will also have a teacher assistant, who brings a wealth of experience from supporting students with disability. This staff member may work with a specific student based on individual funding obtained through the Program for Students with Disability.
Leaving the task of supporting a student with disability to a teacher assistant can result in segregating the student in the classroom and playground, which may cause social isolation for the student, and even bullying by other students.
Teacher assistants are a valuable resource in the classroom, and can assist by freeing up the teacher to design and implement creative ways of supporting a student with disability rather than limiting the student to individual work with the teacher assistant. These will be discussed in student scenarios presented in later modules.
Other professionals may also be part of a student’s team. The specific professional can vary according to an individual student’s needs and situation, including whether they have funding, such as through the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Professionals, such as speech pathologists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, social workers and psychologists may be able to provide some input as consultants, or the school may have access to these professionals to provide specific supports, such as those considered Tier 3. Their skills can complement the expertise of others within the team.