Diverse Learning Needs

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Our schools assist all students, including students with diverse learning needs.

Teachers continually fine-tune teaching strategies for individual students and through this process may identify students requiring additional supports. Your school will also request information about your child’s specific needs through the enrolment process. Schools will establish a Program Support Group (PSG) when necessary, so that those with knowledge of the child can meet to plan adjustments which may include specific support plans or medical management plans.

Your child may present with difficulties accessing and participating in education. In consultation with parents/carers/guardians, the school may access the services of the following consultants and/or allied health professionals in order to better inform the educational programming of your child:

  • psychologists
  • speech pathologists
  • learning consultants: diversity, autism/behaviour, vision impairment, hearing impairment, physical/chronic health impairment and new arrivals/refugees.

If the school believes your child would benefit from these services, the school will contact you and ask for your approval for the direct involvement of learning diversity staff with your child. You may contact your child’s school for more information.

Nationally Consistent Collection of Data on School Students with Disability (NCCD)

The federal and state governments provide funding to Victorian Catholic schools to assist with the ongoing costs of education. The Australian Education Act 2013 and subsequent amendments introduced the Nationally Consistent Collection of Data on School Students with Disability (NCCD). The NCCD count occurs as part of the school census in August of each year.

Many students who need help at school can be counted in the NCCD, including children with learning problems (e.g. specific learning disability or reading difficulty – sometimes called dyslexia), health problems (e.g. epilepsy or diabetes), physical disabilities (e.g. cerebral palsy), vision/hearing loss and social–emotional problems (e.g. selective mutism, autism spectrum disorder or anxiety). You may contact your child’s school for more information.

For further details on the NCCD, see www.nccd.edu.au/for-parents-guardians-and-carers.

Specialised therapy in education

Our schools work in collaboration with specialised organisations in developing educational programs for students with diverse needs and these are personalised to meet the requirements of the individual student.

Students who present with physical/chronic health impairment or complex care needs, requiring substantial or extensive adjustments to their educational program, may be eligible to access physiotherapy and/or occupational therapy services through the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria Ltd (CECV) Therapy and Equipment Program. For a small number of students requiring augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) as their primary mode of communication, speech pathology services may be provided.

Applications for therapy and equipment must provide evidence that the student requires physiotherapy and/or occupational therapy as an integral component of their submitted student program. Services provided are delivered within an educational framework, and focus on supporting schools to understand your child’s needs and implement reasonable adjustments so that your child can access and participate in education. You may contact your child’s school for more information.

Access to external support in schools

Students who participate in the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) receive funding to access support and therapy for everyday activities from NDIS-registered and other external providers. These supports relate to goals outside learning and education. In specific circumstances, NDIS and external providers may be granted access to the school via a provider agreement by principal approval in line with relevant policies and guidelines. Your school will be able to provide you with the forms required for the application process.

Transition certificate in work education

Transition certificates are offered at TAFE for students aged 16 and over who are still enrolled at school. Certificate I in Transition Education and Certificate I in Work Education are for young people who have experienced mild intellectual learning and/or social difficulties.

These courses offer students the opportunity to participate in a range of vocational electives and activities, providing a broader base of living and employment skills. Programs can be tailored to meet the needs of individual students. You may contact your child’s school for more information.

School Leaver Employment Supports (SLES)

An early intervention approach for Year 12 school leavers, School Leaver Employment Supports (SLES) is designed to support the transition from school to employment. Providers of SLES help young people prepare, look for and gain employment, and work with them to provide meaningful, individualised capacity-building activities so they can achieve their employment goals.

For more information, see www.ndis.gov.au/providers/working-provider/school-leavers-employment-supports-sles.

Tailored Pathways Program

This program is designed for students enrolled in Year 10 in the Archdiocese of Melbourne. It is suitable for students with diverse needs who are seeking assistance in planning a suitable pathway to further education and training in their senior years of schooling.

Students learn about the world of work, and post-school training and education options. They learn a range of communication skills and then apply them in the real world, as part of street interviews and workplace visits.

There is a specific focus on personal development and building confidence through the exploration of various employability skills.

The Tailored Pathways Program aims to:

  • improve retention rates for the designated target group
  • have a positive impact on the students’ self-esteem through real-life workplace visits
  • create school–community links
  • develop employability skills in the students
  • increase the students’ confidence and ability to communicate effectively in a range of situations.

Outcomes for students who take part in the program are very positive, with some achieving part-time employment outside school hours. The students enjoy the range of opportunities provided to them, including mixing with a group of students from a number of schools, as they explore the world of work.

For more information, call Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools (MACS) on 03 9267 0228 or email mallen@macs.edu.au.

Specialist settings

The following specialist settings operate in the Archdiocese of Melbourne:

  • Ignatius Learning Centre in Richmond
  • MacKillop Education, with campuses in Caulfield and Geelong
  • St Joseph’s Flexible Learning Centre in Colac, Geelong and North Melbourne
  • St Mary’s College for the Deaf, with campuses in Dandenong, Ringwood, South Morang, Sunbury and Tarneit.

For more information, contact MACS on 03 9267 0228.

Gifted and talented students

Catholic schools make provision for high-achieving and gifted students in a variety of ways. The MACS regional offices offer educational consultancy and access to resources to assist schools in identifying gifted students, assessing their specific needs and making appropriate programming recommendations. You may contact your child’s school for more information.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students

Ongoing educational, pastoral and cultural support is provided to schools, students and their families by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education officers in each diocese. Our schools actively support participation and inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, young people and their families.

Funding is available to Catholic schools to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. You may contact your child’s school for more information. Schools work to establish culturally safe environments where the diverse and unique identities and experiences of Aboriginal children and young people are respected and valued. In order to facilitate this further, links are established with Indigenous community organisations, and specific Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs are offered to students.

The ‘Opening the Doors Foundation’ is an Aboriginal-led community organisation supporting educational opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students attending Catholic schools. This involves an annual process that provides financial support towards the cost of items such as uniforms, school books and IT equipment to successful applicants. Requests are submitted to the Foundation through an online application process.

For more information, see www.openingthedoors.org.au or call 1300 236 356.

English as an Additional Language (EAL) and the New Arrivals/Refugees Program

The Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA) has mandated a new English as an Additional Language (EAL) F–10 curriculum from 2021. Catholic schools will adopt the new EAL curriculum for planning, assessment and reporting of student progress against the Victorian Curriculum F–10 achievement standards from 2021. The EAL curriculum pathways support equity and access to the Victorian Curriculum and support bilingual and/or multilingual language development for students who are learning with English as an additional language.

Consultancy services and funding are available to schools to meet the needs of newly arrived students requiring support with learning English as an additional language. You may contact your child’s school for more information.