Students with Individual Needs

Teacher with child reading bookAll students in every classroom have multiple, diverse and changing needs that are shaped by the learning histories of the individual, cultural and socioeconomic factors and language backgrounds. Students with individual needs have the right to access an inclusive curriculum that is broad, balanced and relevant and meets their individual needs.

Gifted and Talented

Gifted students come from all walks of life, and may be gifted in a single area or across several domains. Gifted students are usually, but not always, high achievers. Even when they don’t achieve good grades, they tend to score high on achievement tests. Many gifted students benefit from faster paced learning, independent study, more complex content and opportunities to use high order thinking skills and problem solving skills and require an individual, flexible differentiated learning plan. In a differentiated curriculum, teachers offer a variety of approaches to what students learn (content), how students learn (process) and how students demonstrate what they have learned (product).

Professor Francoys Gagne’s model of ‘giftedness’, first proposed in 1991, has been influential in Australian education and has provided learning communities with a common terminology. Under his model, giftedness refers to the natural ability in one or more areas, while talent refers to an outstanding performance in an area or areas. The student’s educational environment is one of the key factors influencing the transformation of gifts into talents.

Further information about gifted and talented students can be found on theParliament of Victoria website and the New South Wales Department of Education website (PDF).

Out of Home Care

Children and young people in out of home care have been exposed to significant abuse and trauma which has resulted in them being subject to protective intervention by Child Protection and have been removed from the care of their parents. The children and young people live in a range of alternative care arrangements away from their parents, including living with relatives or friends (kinship care), living with non-relative families (home based care / foster care) and living in residential care units with rostered care staff (residential care).

In Victoria there is an ‘Out-Of-Home Care Education Commitment: A Partnering Agreement’ (PDF) between the Department of Human services (DHS), the Department of Education and Training (Vic DET) and Independent Schools Victoria.

The Partnering Agreement outlines strategies to support educational issues and social needs of the children and young people whilst of school age. It promotes and provides a framework to monitor educational engagement and achievement and provides guidance in school enrolment, transition, attendance, engagement, case planning and retention.

Students with Disabilities

The Australian Human Rights Commission leads the implementation of theDisability Discrimination Act 1992. This Act makes disability discrimination unlawful and aims to promote equal rights, opportunity and access for people with disabilities. Under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (the DDA) are The Disability Standards are intended to give students with disability the same rights as other students. All students, including students with disability, should be treated with dignity and enjoy the benefits of education and training in a supportive environment which values and encourages participation by all students.

An education provider must make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to accommodate a student with disability. An adjustment is a measure or action taken to assist a student with disability to participate in education and training on the same basis as other students.

An adjustment is reasonable if it does this while taking into account the student’s learning needs and balancing the interests of all parties affected, including those of the student with disability, the education provider, staff and other students.

In determining whether an adjustment is reasonable, an education provider should take into account information about:

  • the nature of the student’s disability
  • his or her preferred adjustment
  • any adjustments that have been provided previously
  • any recommended or alternative adjustments.

Ability-based learning, education support and inclusive classroom resources are available for the Vic DET website.

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are lifelong developmental disabilities characterised by marked difficulties in:

  1. Social interaction which may include:
  • Limited use and understanding of non-verbal communication such as eye gaze, facial expression and gesture
  • Difficulties forming and sustaining friendships
  • Lack of seeking to share enjoyment, interest and activities with other people
  • Difficulties with social and emotional responsiveness.
  1. Impaired communication which may include:
  • Delayed language development
  • Difficulties initiating and sustaining conversations
  • Stereotyped and repetitive use of language such as repeating phrases from television
  • Limited imaginative or make-believe play.
  1. Restricted and repetitive interests and behaviours and sensory sensitivities which may include:
  • Unusually intense or focused interests
  • Stereotyped and repetitive body movements such as hand flapping and spinning
  • Repetitive use of objects such as repeatedly flicking a doll’s eyes or lining up toys
  • Adherence to non-functional routines such as insisting on travelling the same route home each day.

The word ‘spectrum’ is used because the range and severity of the difficulties people with an ASD experience can vary widely. ASDs include autistic disorder, Asperger’s disorder and pervasive developmental disorder – not otherwise specified, which is also known as atypical autism. Sometimes the word ‘autism’ is used to refer to all ASDs.

Research shows that about 1 in 110 children have an ASD and that it is more prevalent in boys than girls. The effects of an ASD can often be minimised by early diagnosis and with the right interventions, many children and adults with an ASD show marked improvements.

Further information can be found through a number of organisations, including: AMAZE, Mansfield Statewide Autism Services and Autism Awareness. Vic DET also has an Autism friendly learning resource that Victorian schools can access.

Cultural Diversity

The Victorian community has embraced a wealth of backgrounds among its people. The Multicultural Victoria Act 2011 establishes a number of important principles and fosters a common understanding of cultural diversity. The Act recognises the positive effect of cultural diversity on social, cultural and economic life in Victoria.

Cultural difference is an extremely complex and sometimes highly personal and emotive subject. Thinking about differences is not just about ‘them’. It is also about ‘us’. It touches the very essence of who ‘we’ are; the core of our own identity.

Multicultural education is for all students. It permeates all aspects of school practices and policy. Multicultural education aims to ensure all Victorian students contribute to and benefit from cultural and linguistic diversity and a shared social cohesion.

Schools can download a copy of the Guidelines for Managing Cultural and Linguistic Diversity in Schools (PDF) from the Vic DET website.

Links and Resources

External linkGateways

External linkGifted Support Network Incorporated

External linkTournament of the Minds