Diverse Learning Needs

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, 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 spectrum disorder/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.

Specialised therapy in schools

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). Applications for therapy services must provide evidence that the student requires physiotherapy and/or occupational therapy as an integral component of their submitted student program. In a small number of cases, where specialised support is required, speech pathology services may be provided. You may contact your child’s school for more information. National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and external providers may be granted access to the school via a provider agreement. Your school will be able to provide you with the forms required for the application process.

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.

Transition certificate in work education

A transition certificate in work education (Certificate I in Transition Education) is offered at TAFE for students whose minimum age is 16. This program is for young people who have experienced mild intellectual learning and/or social difficulties.

It offers them 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, workplace visits, and TAFE, Centre for Adult Education (CAE) and training facility visits.

There is a specific focus on personal development and building confidence through the exploration of various employability skills. The program works in partnership with Local Learning and Employment Networks (LLENs), TAFEs and workplaces.

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 Catholic Education Melbourne on 03 9267 0228 or email execdirector@cem.edu.au.

Specialist settings

The following specialist settings operate in the Archdiocese of Melbourne:

  • MacKillop Specialist School in Whittington, Caulfield and Maidstone
  • St Mary’s College for the Deaf, with campuses in Wantirna South and South Morang (primary), Dandenong, Ringwood, Sunbury and South Morang (secondary)
  • St Joseph’s Flexible Learning Centre in North Melbourne
  • St Paul’s College in Balwyn.

The following specialist settings operate in the Diocese of Sandhurst:

  • Doxa School in Bendigo
  • Notre Dame College, McAuley Champagnat Programme in Shepparton
  • Borinya Wangaratta Community Partnership in Wangaratta.

For more information, contact Catholic Education Melbourne on 03 9267 0228 or Catholic Education Office Sandhurst on 03 5443 2377.

Gifted and talented students

Catholic schools make provision for high-achieving and gifted students in a variety of ways. The Catholic Education Office in each diocese offers 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 to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students is provided through school-based curriculum initiatives. Schools develop, implement and evaluate personalised learning plans for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students as required. Effective links are established with Aboriginal community organisations, education personnel, student support schemes and funding where available. You may contact your child’s school for more information.

An Aboriginal Catholic Ministry Victoria initiative, the ‘Opening the Doors Foundation’ provides assistance to parents of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who attend our schools. The Foundation assists parents to choose and successfully maintain a positive educational environment for their children.

For more information, see www.openingthedoors.org.au or call 03 9443 9070.

English as an Additional Language (EAL) / 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.