An individual learning plan (“ILP”; also known as individual education plan or program, or other terms – see glossary) contains a set of individualised goals and strategies that build upon a student’s current profile and future aspirations, and that inform the learning activities my student is involved in on a day-to-day basis. An ILP is required for every student with communication support needs. The purpose of an ILP is to set educational goals that are measurable, and to describe a set of strategies to meet the particular educational and support needs of the student.
A new teacher or teacher new to the student cannot prepare a good ILP without help from people who know the student, and their academic skills, well.
Good quality ILPs identify goals in each relevant subject and curriculum area – including for some students, in the areas of communication, social skills and independence. The included goals should be “SMART” – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound.
The best ILPs identify:
The skill level (referencing the relevant curriculum level, e.g. Victorian curriculum levels A – 10) that the student is currently meeting in each subject area or domain
Goals in each relevant subject area and domain – including both short-term and annual goals
Strategies to achieve those goals
Measurable outcomes – a means to measure progress and know if the strategies are working
Who to speak to if the strategies aren’t working
There is no single best practice ILP template currently available, however the Victorian Department of Education is currently developing one (as at 2018) for Victorian schools. This will be added here as soon as it becomes available.
Preparation and review
ILPs should be prepared by the student’s teacher/s, with input from student support group (“SSG”) members, including aides, family, therapists/professionals as relevant. Understanding your student’s needs holistically – that is, not in discrete areas but how these challenges may interact – is key.
All teachers and aides should be very familiar with their student’s ILP.
ILPs need to be reviewed every term, with goals and strategies amended as necessary, and current skill level updated following assessments to ensure progress tracking.
Review of the student’s progress against the identified measurable outcomes should occur regularly and prior to SSG meetings. This helps to ensure that if a strategy is ineffective, it is identified at the next SSG meeting and a more effective strategy can then be discussed and put in place in a timely way.
The goals in a student’s ILP should relate to the student’s various subjects (e.g. reading, writing, numeracy, science, art), as well as to social skills – including communication – and independence. All state and territory curricula require schools to teach students to develop capabilities in these areas.
Example ILPs for teachers
Here are some examples of ILP templates for your reference:
As noted in the student profile section, assessments are critical for students to meaningfully access the curriculum. They are essential for identifying the skill level the student is currently at, and therefore for setting appropriate goals. See student profile section for key requirements for effective assessments of students with communication support needs.
The Victorian curriculum online resource provides a detailed breakdown of the specific skills expected for each level for each subject (for example, see here for English). The levels range from pre-Foundation levels (levels A to D), up to level 10. The first level of the curriculum, level A, identifies skills of students at the stage of becoming aware of their physical state and moving from reflex responses to intentional responses. The online curriculum can be used as a tool to help teachers identify what level students are at for each subject.
ABLES (Abilities Based Learning and Educational Support)
For students at pre-Foundation level in English, the Victorian Department of Education has developed the ABLES resource to help teachers identify what level their student is working at. ABLES has also been trialled and adopted statewide in Western Australia as ABLEWA.
ABLES provides access to assessment tools, individual reports, and guidance on teaching strategies to help teachers effectively plan and teach for the individual needs of students with disability and additional learning needs.
The ABLES resource currently covers the following subject/skill areas:
English, Speaking and Listening (assesses up to Foundation level)
English, Reading and Writing (assesses up to Foundation level)
Personal and Social Capability: Self Awareness and Management: Development of Resilience
Personal and Social Capability: Social Awareness and Management
Personal and Social Capability: Recognition and Expression of Emotions
A numeracy test (assessing up to Foundation level) is currently under trial and is expected to become available for use by teachers soon.
The Personal and Social Capability skills assessment tools within ABLES provide teachers with valuable guidance on strategies to support social learning. There is also a separate assessment tool relating to personal and social capability skills designed specifically for use with students with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
To use ABLES, teachers need to access an online departmental portal. Contact the Victorian Department of Education or the ABLES coach in your region for more information – click here for details.
Click here for a link to free ABLES online training.
Assessments suitable for people with communication support needs
As noted in the Background and Student Profile sections of this resource, using appropriate assessments and tests is critical. Tests that have been designed and standardised with typically developing students may give inaccurate results when used with a student with communication support needs.
Rather than low cognitive ability, it may be physical, language, or sensory difficulty that is contributing to the student’s level of performance.
Using suitable tests will provide accurate results that teachers can use to prepare curriculum modifications and teaching strategies that enable the student to make progress in their learning.
The NSW Board of Studies has prepared a resource to assist with assessing, planning, programming, implementing and evaluating for students with complex communication needs with specific reference to English K-6. This provides useful background information on assessments which may also be valuable for teachers outside of New South Wales.
“More accurate results will be useful for curriculum modification, which should not be a watered-down version of the class work, but based on our kids’ strengths as learners with visual-spatial proficiency, sensitive and profound observational skills, excellent memory as well as highly creative approaches to diverse situations.”
What is an adjustment?
Schools are required to make reasonable adjustments to enable students with a disability to participate in education on the same basis as students without a disability, unless it would impose an unjustifiable hardship on the school to do so. The type of adjustments required are dependent on the student’s unique circumstances. One student may require one or two minor adjustments in some subjects only; another student may require numerous adjustments across all the student’s learning areas.
An adjustment is a support you can provide a student with a disability, or a change to teaching style, that assists the student in accessing the curriculum on the same basis as others. It may be a piece of equipment, an extra person, specialised training for staff, or anything that results in breaking down the barriers the student may have in learning due to their disability.
Some people may distinguish between accommodations and modifications as different types of adjustments. Essentially, the difference is that accommodations are used to help a student access the curriculum so he/she can learn thesame content as his or her peers, whereas modifications are used to help a student experience the same curriculum but may not learn the same content as his or her peers.
Here are some examples of different kinds of adjustments, to illustrate how varied they can be:
a different way of presenting information to a student, e.g. written rather than verbal
additional provision of instructions, e.g. repeating to the student individually, or breaking a broad task down into smaller parts
alterations to assessments e.g. longer time to complete , no requirement for oral presentation, allowance to use powerpoint instead of essay form
regular update emails from teacher to parent
use of a timer or sensory equipment
use of a visual schedule
training for school staff in using a student’s communication device
Curriculum adjustments for a particular student are determined on the basis of the goals and strategies in a student’s ILP, taking into account a student’s current profile – including communication and sensory support needs. When implemented, the strategies/adjustments should enable the student to achieve progress towards their individualised goals whilst being included in the class and whole class activities.
Accommodations and Modifications
A strategy used to help a student with learning needs experience the same curriculum as his or her peers.
A strategy used to help a student with signifi-cant learning needs experience the same cur-riculum as his or her peers.
Has the same learning outcomes as his or her peers.
Has different learning outcomes than his or her peers.
Happens in the general education classroom.
Happens in the general education classroom.
Tools, materials, technology, visual aides, and tim-ing are used to help the student access the curricu-lum so he/she can learn the same content as his or her peers.
Tools, materials, technology, visual aides, and timing are used to help the student experience the same curriculum but may not learn the same content as his or her peers.
Katandra project: provides a visiting ‘coach’ and support resources that increase the confidence and capacity of teachers to support children with additional needs enrolled in mainstream schools. Contact Tracey Walker, DET, South Eastern Victoria Region: +61 3 8765 5600