Going to school is an exciting and important time in your child’s development. Supporting your child to make the transition to primary and then secondary school can require careful planning and extensive research to make sure the school will be the right fit for your child.
It’s best to start planning early and there are a range of supports in place to help, including your child’s dedicated Student Support Group and various government programs.
Developing a positive partnership with your child’s school is the basis for a positive and successful school experience for your child and family.
Spending time to get to know the school, its facilities, routines, staff and students and sharing important information about your child will help to develop and maintain this ongoing relationship.
Making sure there is good communication between you and the school will mean you are always up to date with your child’s progress. This communication can be formal (through regular Student Support Group meetings and parent–teacher interviews) or informal (quick catch-ups with teachers, email and phone communication as needed). To communicate regularly with your child’s school, you could use your child’s school diary or planner, or even use a ‘communication book’ that travels between home and school in your child’s bag.
Student Support Groups support individual students with additional learning needs. The group that comes together to support your child will include:
The Student Support Group’s role is to:
One of the first tasks of the Student Support Group is to develop an Individual Learning Plan for your child. The plan should not only focus on the academic needs of your child but also their safety, behavioural, medical and personal care needs. The Individual Learning Plan should be flexible enough to allow for changes.
Individual Learning Plans are only developed for those areas of the curriculum where your child will need extra education support. This may only be for certain parts of the curriculum or it may be for the whole curriculum.
Government schools that enrol students with a moderate to severe disability are eligible for funding to support those students under the Program for Students with Disabilities. Applications for this education support funding are made through the child’s Student Support Group.
Funds from the Program for Students with Disabilities can be used to provide:
The school can also apply to the Department of Education and Training for building modifications such as ramps and toilet facilities. It is up to the Student Support Group to plan how to use funds and to make recommendations for the principal’s approval.
There are many things to consider when choosing the right school for your child, including their strengths and interests, school facilities and the needs of your family. Every child and family is different and the school you choose should meet your child’s needs.
Planning for primary school should ideally begin when your child is in kindergarten. Speaking with the kindergarten teacher is a good place to start. For more information about making the transition from kindergarten to primary school see the Starting school for children with disabilities page.
It is a good idea to start planning for secondary school when your child is in grade four or five. This will allow plenty of time to explore and consider your options.
When considering your choices, think about:
To help make your decision:
Government schools in Victoria are zoned, meaning that they can restrict entry to children who live within a certain geographical area close to the school. However, if the school has space, it can enrol children who live outside the zone.
There are more than 80 government specialist schools in Victoria. Each specialist school is, by definition, more accessible than mainstream schools in terms of the environment and curriculum. However, this may mean that the subjects on offer are more limited than in a mainstream school. Class sizes at specialist schools are smaller than mainstream schools and many also have therapists on staff.
Like all schools, students must meet the specialist school’s enrolment criteria. Contact the principal or the Department of Education and Training for more information. If you live within the specialist school’s designated transport area your child may be eligible for travel support to school (usually a school bus).
For a list of specialist schools, visit the Department of Education and Training website.
If you are interested in exploring independent or Catholic school options for your child, you will need to contact individual schools to ask about their enrolment criteria. Independent and Catholic schools are eligible for disability funding but it is different from the funding available in government schools.
Other options for educating your child include:
Preparing for your child’s move into secondary school can start as early in your child’s life as you like – waiting lists for some independent schools mean that a child’s name has to be added to a waiting list virtually from birth.
By the time your child is in grade five, it is a good idea to be thinking seriously about secondary school. Start talking to friends, neighbours and other networks about recommendations. Visit school websites and begin attending school information evenings, open days, tours and having meetings with principals.
By the beginning of grade six, it will help to have prepared a shortlist of secondary school options. Some of the things you could be doing during your child’s last year of primary school include:
Government schools will let you know in Term 3 if your child has been offered a place.
Expect a Student Support Group meeting to take place with relevant staff from the secondary school (this should be organised by your child’s primary school).
This article is republished from Better Health go visit their website for more or copy and paste the following link: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/ServicesAndSupport/school-support-for-children-with-special-needs