Program Options

Acknowledging that not all parents seek a regular class placement for their child, Catholic Education in WA does not have special schools but it provides a range of placement and program options including Special Education Support Centres or units for students with high support needs, units for deaf and hearing impaired students and various types of support programs in regular classes.

Alternative, modified or reduced programs are provided in Special Education Support Centres, units and regular classrooms or in a combination of these. Varying levels of support are provided depending on a student’s educational needs and/or the location of the school.

Regular Classroom Settings

The majority of Primary school students with disability may be adequately catered for with individualised programs and support in regular same-age classrooms in their local school. Some students are able to work independently with minor additional support or program modifications. Others may work at varying levels with varying amounts of teaching assistant time.

Learning Support Programs

A number of schools that do not have access to a Special Education Support facility, conduct learning support programs and employ a Support Teacher to organise and facilitate learning for students with disability and special learning needs.

The Support Teacher may take primary responsibility for assessing student needs and learning progress. Individual classroom teachers and the Support Teacher, work together to develop and implement individualised education plans/programs (IEPs), devise activities, develop strategies and materials and evaluate the program.

The Support Teacher may team teach with the regular teacher in the classroom and/or may conduct intensive small group learning activities in the regular classroom or on a withdrawal basis. The Support Teacher liaises with external service providers, CEWA Special Learning Needs Consultants and organises and facilitates student reviews.

The learning needs of some students may be more effectively met within a Special Education Support Centre or unit.

Particular Placement Considerations

In Secondary schools the majority of students with borderline levels of educational disability, and a number of students with borderline to mild levels of educational disability, are able to be adequately catered for in regular classes, providing they are given specific differentiated curriculum provisions and considerations. 

However many students with mild or moderate intellectual disability who were able to be accommodated in regular Primary school programs experience significant difficulties with the increased academic demands of the Secondary school.

A number of parents may resist the idea of their child being placed in a secondary Special Education Support Centre when the student had previously been a member of a regular primary school class. Some parents may not fully appreciate the increased social and academic demands of a Secondary school. 

The majority of students with a mild to moderate intellectual disability and those with moderate and severe intellectual disability are better catered for in Special Education Support facilities where programs and provisions are tailored to meet their specific needs.

Some students have such specific, complex and intense developmental/educational needs that they require specialised programs, high levels of support, specialist teaching arrangements and facilities. 

The educational support needs of some students are such that a regular school, without access to specialist teacher support and additional para-professional staffing, particularly at the secondary level, is unable to provide an appropriate educational program.

For this reason a number of Special Education Support Centres and units in designated primary and secondary metropolitan schools have been established to cater for the needs of these students.

Curriculum Adjustments

Put simply, there are three basic levels of student participation in the regular curriculum.

  • Same - same curriculum focus, same or similar activities and same or similar outcomes. In some instances additional time to complete activities or an alternative mode of assessment may be needed.

  • Multi-level or overlapping - same curriculum activity but at a lower level or with a different focus or outcome. For some students the focus may be on social skills or communication development rather than on the same academic outcome that is expected for peers.

  • Parallel - same learning area, different objectives, different activities and materials, different outcomes, perhaps a different time frame and/or different means of expressing and recording information and knowledge.

Alternative or different curricula provisions and curriculum modifications are recorded and detailed in either an IEP or a CAP.

Meeting Individual Needs (IEPs and CAPs)

Schools are accountable for the learning of all students. The Individualised Education Planning/Programming (IEP) process is the most efficient and effective way to demonstrate educational accountability for students who receive special education services. 

It is a clear specific written account for action. The process encourages parents, educators and relevant service providers to collaborate and share their skills and knowledge, and strengthens the role of each.

The IEP process is essential in identifying and planning for the educational needs of students with special learning needs. An IEP is an action plan/program - a written commitment for action and a statement of responsibility and accountability. It is a record of decisions about the educational focus and planning arrangements for the student. 

It provides a succinct profile of the student’s educational needs and abilities and prioritises these needs in a rational, functional manner to ensure that provisions and arrangements are focused on specific individual needs and sound teaching and learning practices.

Essentially an IEP is a non-static working document which identifies a student’s specific needs and learning priorities, and outlines how these needs are to be addressed within a defined time frame. It serves as a management device and source of information that details the special education and related services to be provided and the responsibilities of those involved.

It documents the accommodations, modifications and adjustments made, or required to be made, for the student in parts of, or across the general curriculum.

The IEP describes how far, to what extent, by when, and how the student should progress towards achievement of defined outcomes. It should be a realistic and practical plan for a student’s education and a clear and concise source of information.

While an IEP is the centrepiece, the heart and soul of providing educationally sound provisions for students with special educational needs it is only part of a total process and not an end or an entity in itself.

Key Components of an Effective IEP

Comprehensive information regarding the student’s physical, functional, academic and developmental levels within the total environment in which he/she operates needs to be compiled from a variety of sources - parents, teachers and relevant involved professionals.

Parents have a significant contribution to make and should have ongoing opportunities to participate and provide input to the development of the IEP. 

Collaboration with parents throughout the IEP process strengthens the links between home and school and enables better communication between the two.

While there are a number of formats that can be used to document an IEP the essential elements of the process include:

  • Meaningful collaboration between relevant stakeholders

  • Comprehensive student information

  • Assessment of the student’s present level of educational achievement/skill attainment/performance

  • Clearly articulated and prioritised long-term learning and developmental goals

  • Identification and a statement of priority goals

  • A statement outlining specific educational objectives and learning outcomes

  • Implementation methods that will be utilised

  • The teaching strategies, methods, techniques and resources to be used

  • The roles and responsibilities of personnel who are involved in supporting the student

  • The review schedule and procedures

  • The ways in which the student’s progress and the planning effectiveness will be assessed and evaluated

  • Identification of support services to be provided

  • Any special equipment, modifications and adjustments required

  • Any particular duty of care aspects that relate to health, medical and therapy support and safety.

IEP Meetings

IEP meetings provide a forum for discussion, collaboration, resolution of issues and decisive action planning. They take into account the knowledge, concerns, ideas and wishes of the parents and those of the teaching staff and relevant service providers. IEP meetings provide a mechanism for communicating with parents. While it is valuable to have input from a variety of sources, the numbers participating in the review meeting should be kept to a minimum. Parent participation is essential. Written reports from relevant others can be presented by the chairperson.

Curriculum Adjustment Plan (CAP)

A Curriculum Adjustment Plan (CAP) shows the evidence that the student’s skills and needs have been taken into account in the preparation of the group program. Students will achieve regular or close to regular outcomes with teacher adjustment. This is the minimum for all eligible students.