The aim of this online toolkit is to assist primary and secondary teachers within Australia – in mainstream and specialist schools, and across public and private education sectors – to support the learning and inclusion of students with communication support needs.
All students with communication support needs – including many who have high intellectual and academic ability – have the potential to learn and achieve, yet this goes unrealised if they are not understood.
The toolkit aims to help create a more relaxed teaching environment by equipping teachers with the know-how to engage and support their students with little or no speech.
It has been developed in consultation with schools, the Victorian Department of Education, speech pathologists and students with communication support needs and their families. It arose from a growing awareness of the struggle schools often face to meet the needs of these students, potentially resulting in stressful situations at schools and students missing out on educational opportunities.
It is our hope that this toolkit will be shared and utilised widely by teachers across Australia, and through this will help build the capacity of schools and teachers to better support students with communication support needs, thereby:
• upholding the rights of students with communication support needs;
• enabling these students to have a full and inclusive education;
• enhancing their wellbeing; and
• supporting them to reach their potential.
The toolkit does not identify the actual supports or strategies that might be appropriate for a particular student – rather, it aims to guide teachers and school staff through steps and resources that enable the identification of individually appropriate teaching strategies. While some particular strategies are referenced in some sections, these are provided as examples only and it is not intended that the toolkit provides a definitive or exhaustive list of strategies that are suitable for use with students with communication support needs. This is because there are innumerable strategies and choosing which ones to use is most appropriately determined by a trained teacher, taking into account the particular abilities and needs of the student, as well as the intended learning outcome, all of which vary considerably from student to student and with age, as well as over time and dependent on age, subject and topic.