As part of the government Special Needs Plan, teachers are now required to build their capacity to teach learners with disability.
This will be part of the 20 hours of PD you are required to undertake to meet annual renewal requirements, and is not an additional requirement.
Teachers must be able to identify the new learning they have gained from their PD and have evidence of attendance or engagement.
Who are learners with special needs?
The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 provides a definition of learners with a disability.
- total or partial loss of the person's bodily or mental functions;
- total or partial loss of a part of the body;
- the presence in the body of organisms causing disease or illness;
- the presence in the body of organisms capable of causing disease or illness;
- the malfunction, malformation or disfigurement of a part of the person's body;
- a disorder or malfunction that results in the person learning differently from a person without the disorder or malfunction; or
- a disorder, illness or disease that affects a person's thought processes, perception of reality, emotions or judgement or that results in disturbed behaviour.
The definition of disability includes those learners with disability who are supported by general resources available within the school or service, as well as learners who are receiving targeted specialist education services and supports.
The impact of the learner’s disability should result in the school or service actively addressing the learner’s specific individual education needs arising from their disability. This should be done within quality differentiated teaching practice and / or by monitoring the learner, or providing a ‘supplementary’ / higher level of support.
What type of PD can I do?
When you select PD activities that relate to learners with disability, you should consider your teaching context, your learners’ characteristics and needs, and your own level of learning; a ‘one size fits all’ approach cannot be taken, and activities will differ from teacher to teacher and from workplace to workplace.
The best learning will involve activities that can be developed and integrated into teaching practice over time. Learning is most effective when it is shared with colleagues and results in greater levels of practical application of new knowledge.
PD about learners with a disability can be accessed face-to-face or online and in formal or informal settings. It can include:
- PD delivered by expert colleagues or experts in your workplace
- curriculum days
- seminars, workshops, online modules, webinars or programs
- PD program leading to a credential
- professional reading - if you are learning something and applying it to your teaching
- online research (website / podcast / 'ted talk') when you apply the learning to your teaching
- coaching and mentoring
- action or inquiry-based research
- engagement with a professional learning team or community of practice
- instructional rounds
- short courses, VET courses or other postgraduate study
You must be able to identify the new learning you have gained, and have evidence of attendance or engagement.
Where can I find PD options?
You should assess the PD to determine what will meet your professional learning needs in relation to learners with a disability.
Victorian government PD options for teachers
PD activities designed for teachers are provided by the Victorian government. Many of these are freely available.
The following options are available for teachers in government, Catholic and independent schools
|Disability Standards for Education (DSE) eLearning|
Free online resources about legal obligations under the DSE and Disability Discrimination Act.
|Victorian Deaf Education Institute (VDEI) Professional Learning Program|
A range of professional learning activities catering to all Victorian education professionals supporting deaf and hard of hearing children and young people aged 0-18 years, across a range of educational settings.
|Managing Challenging Behaviour|
Online course to support teachers to limit the incidence and impact of complex behaviours in the classroom.This site is only accessible to users with an email address ending in @edumail.vic.gov.au, @yourschool.catholic.edu.au or @yourschool.vic.edu.au
The following options are only available for teachers in government and Catholic schools
|ABLES Online Professional Learning|
Free online professional learning portal on using the ABLES assessment tools to personalise learning for students who have a disability.
Free blended professional learning focusing on understanding, assessment and classroom support of students with disabilities and learning difficulties in four courses:
Each of the four courses is delivered each term through a combination of online and face-to-face delivery as part of a small network of participants. Access to the courses is through an expression of interest process advertised in the School Update newsletter.
The following option is only available for teachers in government schools
|Functional Assessment and Positive Support|
One day face-to-face workshop about how to functionally assess a student’s behaviour and develop, implement and monitor a behaviour support plan.
Other government PD options for teachers
The Positive Partnerships initiative, delivered by Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect), is funded by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training through the Helping Children with Autism Package.
The following options are available for teachers in government, Catholic and independent schools
PL concurrent program
Parents and school staff participate in joint sessions during a one-day workshop to focus on shared discussion, planning and working together.
This 12 hour PD activity has two components:
1. Pre-workshop online learning
2. Pre-workshop online learning
Participation in the program is negotiated through your education sector. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
|PL co-located program|
This program incorporates formation of a school team, identification of school priorities through completion of a whole school survey and supporting participants to embed learning in their school context.
This five-day program has several components:
1. Two pre-workshop online learning activities
2. Two-day workshop
3. Four post-workshop online learning activities
4. Implementation of whole school action learning task
|Introduction to autism|
An online learning interactive module that totals 2 hours and covers:
Visit www.autismtraining.com.au to register your details and complete the modules.
You'll find other useful resources at www.positivepartnerships.com.au.
Victorian government PD options for early childhood teachers
PD activities designed for early childhood teachers are provided by the Victorian government. Many of these are freely available.
|Disability Standards for Education (DSE) eLearning||Free online resources about legal
obligations under the DSE and Disability Discrimination Act.Registration key: vic-edu (case sensitive)|
Resource: A practical guide for individuals, families and communities
|Early ABLES Online Professional Learning||Free online professional learning portal on using the ABLES assessment tools to personalise learning for students who have a disability.|
|Victorian Deaf Education Institute (VDEI) Professional Learning Program||A range of professional learning activities catering to all Victorian education professionals supporting deaf and hard of hearing children and young people aged 0-18 years, across a range of educational settings.|
|Early Childhood Intervention Australia (ECIA)||Provides professional development programs in partnership with the Department focused on improving the quality of early childhood intervention.|
PD offered by other PD providers
All activities listed address standard descriptor 1.6 about teaching learners with special needs. VIT doesn’t endorse any PD activities or providers. Teachers are encouraged to make their own decision about which activities to undertake based upon provider information and their particular
learning needs. Alternatively, teachers may wish to engage in activities that they source independently.
Other options for PD
PD providers who will come to you
Providers who will to come to your venue and deliver Special Needs PD to a group of registered teachers are listed below.
While we don’t endorse any PD providers or the activities they offer, the list gives schools and services an opportunity to tailor Special Needs PD to their own context and priorities. Alternatively, schools and services may wish to engage in activities that they source independently or undertake in-house.
The Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (APST) describe the knowledge and practice of teachers. This should be your starting point to identify what PD will work for your circumstances.
Consider your level of expertise in the following aspects of your practice:
- Design and implement teaching activities that support the learning and participation of learners with disability, and address relevant policy and legislative requirements. (Standard descriptor 1.6)
- Develop teaching activities that incorporate differentiated strategies to meet the specific learning needs of learners across the full range of abilities. (Standard descriptor 1.5)
- Establish and implement inclusive and positive interactions to engage and support all learners in learning activities. (Standard descriptor 4.1)
How to select the best PD for my learners
This guide identifies seven principles of effective professional learning that relate to quality PD.
PD should be:
- focused on improving outcomes for learners
- relevant to learning needs
- informed by the best available research
- collaborative and provides opportunities for reflection and feedback
- embedded in practice
- including ways to measure the impact of the new learning
- ongoing, integrated with other strategies supported and shared
When assessing PD on offer, use these principles to evaluate the quality of the PD.
|PRINCIPLE||QUESTIONS TO ASK|
The PD is focused on improving outcomes for learners
The PD is relevant to my learning needs?
The PD is informed by the best available research
The PD is collaborative and provides opportunities for reflection and feedback
The PD in embedded in practice
The PD is ongoing, integrated with other strategies, supported and shared
Why is special needs PD important?
Every learner has a right to the knowledge and skills that will help shape productive and positive lives, regardless of their physical, social and intellectual development and characteristics.
Research indicates that most teachers will be teaching learners with disabilities. A recent study by the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission found that 62% of classroom teachers reported they were inadequately trained to teach learners with disabilities.
The requirement for registered teachers to report on their capacity to teach learners with disability will help build professional knowledge and expertise to address this need. It will also support the development of an inclusive culture in schools and early childhood settings.
Registered teachers renewing their registration
When you renew your registration by 30 September 2016, you will be asked to identify the PD you've engaged in since 1 October 2014 to build your capacity to teach learners with disability. Activities selected should reference the relevant standards (descriptors 1.5, 1.6 and 4.1).
This will be part of the 20 hours of PD you are required to undertake to meet annual renewal requirements, and is not an additional requirement. You should keep evidence of PD you undertake for renewal, including activities related to learners with disabilities. When you renew your registration you may be selected to provide your evidence to the VIT.
If you haven’t completed this by your renewal date in 2016, you must report on it by 30 September 2017 to renew your registration at that time.
Provisionally registered teachers
If you apply for (full) registration after June 2016, you will be required to include a focus on learners with disabilities in your evidence of practice. This will be included in the VIT designed evidence-based process.
Returning to teaching from non-practising registration
If you are returning to teaching, you will be asked to identify the PD you've engaged in to build your capacity to teach learners with disability. Activities selected by you should reference the standards descriptors 1.6, 1.5 or 4.1.
This will be part of the 20 hours of PD required to return to teaching, and is not an additional requirement.
How does this apply to the next generation of teachers?
Higher education providers seeking accreditation of their initial teacher education (ITE) programs must now ensure there is specific focus on standards descriptors 1.6, 1.5 and 4.1 at the Graduate Teacher level.
Higher education providers will report to VIT about their ITE programs in the first half of 2016, and this will include information about the component of their programs which address the teaching of learners with disabilities.