In April 2015, an Expert Panel was established to review policy and practice for supporting and teaching students with complex needs and challenging behaviour in all ACT government, Independent and Catholic schools. The Expert Panel defined complex needs and challenging behaviour as ‘any pervasive behaviour, or set of behaviours, regardless of cause (or even without any apparent or identified cause) which disrupts the capacity of the person, or other persons, to learn within the school environment, and which requires targeted or personalised interventions’.
The Expert Panel was asked to review policy and practice in ACT schools with reference to contemporary best practice. This included evaluation of the current legislative and policy framework, guidelines, practices and protocols that support ACT schools in teaching students with complex needs and challenging behaviour, including research and evidence-based best practice in other jurisdictions.
The Expert Panel consulted with a broad range of stakeholders including students, parents/carers, teachers, school leaders, school organisations, support organisations, education and care experts and other community members. It heard from over 1700 individuals and organisations.
The Expert Panel recognised that whilst the ACT has an excellent school system and achieves outstanding results on many measures, there are challenges for schools in supporting students with complex needs and challenging behaviour. The Expert Panel made 50 recommendations, and the response to the recommendations is a result of collaboration between the ACT government, Catholic and Independent school sectors through the three year Schools for All program of reform. The Education Directorate, as the largest provider of education in the ACT, took leadership for delivery and responses, and also focussed on:
- reinforcing a student-centred vision that gives priority to each student’s needs in education policy and practice, particularly those with complex needs and challenging behaviour; and
- implementing systemic cultural change, including major policy and program reform necessary to ensure that all recommendations can be sustained in the long-term to support all students, particularly those with complex needs and challenging behaviour
An Independent Oversight Group was in place until December 2016 to provide oversight to implementation of recommendations and a Program Board monitored and reviewed implementation progress for the duration of the program. These governance groups provided assurance of quality and rigour in implementation and provided advice and guidance to the Government on the careful management of the work to ensure it was of a high enduring standard capable of achieving sustainable cultural change.
The Program Implementation Team reported quarterly to the Program Board and Oversight Group. This included a quarterly progress report including Education Directorate and Catholic Education outcomes, an executive summary which includes key achievements across the Education Directorate, Catholic Education and Association of Independent Schools ACT. It also includes individual project status reports.
Links to these reports are provided below, including the Schools for all Program Showcase which presents key achievements stemming from the Program.
The important reforms in the Schools for All program set the foundation for The Future of Education Strategy, 2018 – 2028.
The Therapy in Specialist Schools action research was a joint project between Black Mountain School, Cranleigh School and Therapy ACT.
Summary of Therapy Action Research Project Final Report (43kb)
Summary of Therapy Action Research Project Final Report (107kb)