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The Victorian Government has identified special needs and inclusive education as a focus area to address the growing need for teachers to gain skills and experience and to improve educational outcomes for learners living with disabilities.

Learners living with a disability may include¹

  • 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, and/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.

Barriers experienced by learners living with a disability can include

  • a lack of teaching materials catering to a range of disabilities
  • unrelatable or inappropriate context for the subject matter being taught, and
  • a lack of awareness or representation in teaching materials.

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.

Professional learning

Professional learning undertaken for teaching learners with special needs should meet descriptor 1.6 of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (APST), however it may meet other descriptor(s) of the APST depending on the type of professional learning undertaken.

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Visit the Teacher resources page to find out how to log professional learning activities in MyPD.

Teachers should consider their teaching context, their learners’ characteristics and needs and their own level of learning when selecting professional learning activities.

If they do not have a learner living with a disability in their learning environment, teachers can

  • observe an experienced teacher’s practice and/or approach to a learner living with a disability and base their demonstration of Standard 1.6 on another student in the school, or
  • hypothetically include a learner living with a disability to demonstrate the standard.

Then they will need to ask themselves

  • What would I do if I had this learner in my group?
  • How would I design and implement effective teaching strategies that are responsive to individual needs of the learner living with a disability?
Video

Click here to see some videos about professional learning for teaching learners with special needs.

Resources

The VIT has compiled the following list of professional learning resources for teaching learners living with a disability.

Professional learning programs for teaching learners with special needs
Resource
More information
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 website is only accessible to users with an email address ending in @education.vic.gov.au, @yourschool.catholic.edu.au or @yourschool.vic.edu.au. 
AllPlay Learn AllPlay Learn helps to create inclusive education environments for children and young people with developmental challenges and disabilities through practical online information, courses and resources for teachers, early childhood teachers and educators, as well as information and resources for parents, children and the community. 
ABLES Online Professional Learning Free online professional learning portal on using the ABLES assessment tools to personalise learning for students who have a disability.  
Inclusive Classrooms Free blended professional learning aimed at building capacity to implement inclusive practice by enhancing participant’s knowledge and understanding of evidence based teaching strategies and adjustments to support students with diverse learning needs. 
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. Participation in the program is negotiated through your education sector. Contact professionallearning@autismspectrum.org.au 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. Participation in the program is negotiated through your education sector. Please contact professionallearning@autismspectrum.org.au for more information. 
Introduction to autism An online learning interactive module that totals 2 hours and covers the origins and history of the autism spectrum, key definitions, facts and figures, approaches to supporting individuals on the autism spectrum, characteristics of autism, and diagnosis of autism and the diversity of the spectrum. 
Disability Standards for Education eLearning Interactive, scenario-based eLearning modules about the Disability Standards for Education including an early childhood module. They are free for early childhood teachers working in a funded kindergarten and each module takes about 2 hours to complete. ECTs and CRT ECTs can access the registration key by contacting the appropriate Victorian authority. 
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. 
¹ Disability Discrimination Act 1992

Last updated: 14 Jul 2021