Education Institute

Responsibilities of schools and educators

  • Curriculum continuity 

    Supporting students with health conditions can be challenging but ultimately most educators find the experience very rewarding. The Department of Education (DE) Health Care Needs Policy clearly outlines the roles and responsibilities of schools and educators when a student is unwell. 

    The school or kindergarten in which the student is enrolled retains responsibility for the student’s curriculum when they are in hospital or recuperating at home. Hospital based education staff may also assist the school in supporting the student.

    For students with health care needs, schools should:

    • provide learning programs that maintain continuity of learning
    • acknowledge all learning outcomes achieved through the hospital-based experience
    • plan ways to maintain connections with peers and the classroom teacher using a range of communication methods.
    • plan re-entry strategies 
    • set realistic expectations 
    • provide additional support.

    Educators should consult the Depatment of Education website for more information on how to support students during transitions between hospital, home and school.  

    Individual Education Plan (IEP)

    Educators can help to manage the impact of a health condition or illness by developing an Individual Education Plan. An IEP is a written statement that describes the adjustments, goals and strategies to meet a student’s individual educational needs so they can reach their full potential. This plan will need to be reviewed at different stages of the student's illness or treatment so that goals and expectations can be adjusted as required.

    For more information about Individual Education Plans please consult the Department of Education website. 

    Reasonable adjustments 

    Making fair and reasonable adjustments to a student's workload, learning environment, curriculum and attendance will make it possible for the young person to continue their education while managing their health condition. Adjustments may include: 

    • a reduced subject load with more time for rest breaks during the day 
    • negotiating part-time attendance or a gradual return to school 
    • providing access to online learning tools and resources such as videos and recordings 
    • exemption from or modified exams and assessments 
    • reduced homework expectations
    • providing access to classroom materials through assistive technologies such as screen readers
    • modifying the curriculum and assessments, for example allowing a student to answer assessments orally or use a computer
    • presenting classroom materials in a different way such as visual, oral or demonstrations
    • adapting teaching style, for example breaking lessons and/or activities into smaller sections so they are easier to understand
    • reducing the distance between classes/classrooms for students who have physical disabilities or fatigue
    • giving extra time to move from class to class
    • allowing more time to complete an exam or assessment or giving the student rest breaks
    • planning excursions in accessible locations, for example making sure the location is wheelchair accessible.


    Ongoing and effective communication is an important way to keep students engaged and connected to their learning environment.

    Develop a communication plan so that educators and school staff know how and when to make to contact with families and students.

    • Discuss the most effective and sensitive way to communicate with students and their families about the health condition.  
    • Establish clear expectations regarding the student's privacy and ensure information is not shared without permission.  
    • Establish key contact people to manage communication between home, hospital and school.
    • Maintain regular and ongoing contact, particularly if the student is away for a long time. 
    • Aim to minimise the burden of communication on families and students during times of high stress or acute illness.

    VCE and senior pathways 

    With support and encouragement from their school, many students can still undertake some or all of their senior studies while managing a health condition. Schools should take steps to ensure students with health conditions have every chance to succeed in their senior years. 

    • Develop a team of support people including subject teachers, student support officers, wellbeing staff, VCE or VM coordinators and pathway/careers coordinators.
    • Communicate regularly with the student and their family.
    • Discuss the student's strengths, interests and goals for the future. 
    • Provide extra pathway counselling to help the student make decisions about subjects, courses and future study. 
    • Give the student options such as; studying VCE over several years, completing subjects though Virtual School Victoria, reducing subject load or completing an unscored VCE. 
    • Ensure the student has opportunities to engage with peers and include them in special events such as school formals, camps and graduation celebrations.
    • Be flexible and willing to change plans as required, remembering that chronic health, illness and treatment can be unpredictable. 
    • Maintain frequent communication with the student and provide regular feedback on their progress.
    • Ensure that the student has access to VCAA special provisions for exams and assessments if they are eligible.
    • Support the student with VCAA and VTAC applications and documentation. 
    • Ensure that the student has access to curriculum materials, resources and academic support from subject teachers. 
    • Develop a flexible attendance plan if necessary.

    Student Health Support Plan 

    A health support plan must be completed for each student with an identified health care need other than anaphylaxis or an allergy. The plan outlines how the school or education setting will support the student’s health care needs. The plan is completed in consultation with parents/guardians and guided by medical advice.

    Consult the Department of Education Health Care Needs resources page for more information, including the four stages of developing a Student Health Support Plan. 

    Student Support Services (SSS)

    Ensure that students with a health condition have access to all of the available Student Support Services within the school or education setting. Every school has a key contact responsible for potential referrals, consultations or student wellbeing issues so it is worth meeting with them to discuss the student's eligibility. Students and families should be introduced to relevant student support staff and assisted to access these services as required. Student Support Services can include:

    • psychologists
    • social workers 
    • speech therapists
    • visiting teachers
    • cognitive, language or learning assessments.

    Also consider the role that different staff members can play within the school community and include them in the student's support team if appropriate. Additional support people might include:

    • school nurse via the Victorian School Nursing Program (SNP)
    • chaplains or wellbeing officers 
    • career and pathway staff
    • learning support officers 
    • student reception and office staff 
    • curriculum coordinators 
    • subject teachers.

    Consult the Department of Education's Student Support Services Handbook for more information.

    Disability Inclusion and The Program for Students with Disabilities (PSD)

    Disability Inclusion is part of the Government’s approach to inclusive education. It provides extra support for students with disability in Victorian Government schools. Disability Inclusion is rolling out to Victorian government schools between 2021 and 2025.

    The Program for Students with Disabilities (PSD) provides funding to assist schools to support eligible students with disability and high needs who attend government schools.

    Students may be eligible for either the Program for Students with Disabilities (PSD) or Disability Inclusion funding as a result of their illness or health condition. A student's educational needs may have changed or increased when they return to school after a period of illness and treatment in hospital. The Disability Standards for Education 2005 apply to all students with disability, regardless of eligibility under the PSD or Disability Inclusion and it is essential that effective educational planning and support be undertaken for every student with disability.

    Consult the Department of Education Disability and Inclusive Education website for more information or speak to the Student Support Services team at your school.