Taskforce on Students with Learning Difficulties

Background & Reports

The Taskforce on Students with Learning Difficulties was an advisory body established in 2012, to provide the Minister for Education and Training with recommendations for classroom level intervention and support of children and young people in ACT government schools with learning difficulties.

The Final Report from the Taskforce was presented to the Minister for Education and Training in July 2013.

The report identified 14 strategies under the three key recommendations:

  • A Consistent Systemic Approach, Building Staff Capacity and Building Partnerships with Families.
  • The recommendations outline strategies for supporting students with learning difficulties who may be present in any P-12 classroom, and builds on the already high standard of professional practice in ACT government schools.
  • The 14 strategies under the three key recommendations to ensure appropriate resources and supports are allocated for the education of students with learning difficulties include:
    1. Development of protocols (a handbook) that include identifying, supporting and making adjustments for students with learning difficulties.
    2. The addition of endorsed evidenced based approaches to be included in the Directorate’s Literacy and Numeracy Strategy 2009 – 2013 with specific reference to the needs of students with learning difficulties.
    3. A focus on learning difficulties and diversity in learning to be a key component of the Directorate’s leadership program from 2014.
    4. Students who are twice exceptional are identified in the current Directorate’s Gifted and Talented Policy.
    5. Investigation of Response to Intervention models for implementation within schools.
    6. The development of a comprehensive professional learning pathway with increasing levels of specialist knowledge that supports a consistent systematic approach to learning difficulties across the Directorate.
    7. The professional learning pathway to include targets for completion of training.
    8. Each School Network provided with scaffolding and support for teachers from specialist teachers with greater expertise and skills in learning difficulties.
    9. Development of systemic professional learning for all Learning Support Assistants.
    10. Clarification of the role of Learning Support Assistants.
    11. Investigation of a system wide approach to the assessment of students with learning difficulties.
    12. Development of multiple communication mechanisms to support families of students with learning difficulties
    13. Investigation of enhanced partnerships with therapists and other professionals working with teachers, parents and directly with students.
    14. Provisions for adjustment to assessment tools for students to be communicated to parents and carers, students and staff.

Key project deliverables

  • Twice exceptional students are acknowledged in the Directorate’s Gifted and Talented Policy.
  • A pilot study in two primary schools in implementing the Response to Intervention (RTI) framework was undertaken.
  • Schools have appointed a representative teacher who have undertaken specialist training in the Directorate Learning Difficulties professional learning suite in 2014.
  • Professional learning modules have been delivered in learning difficulties for school leadership teams, learning support assistants and parents and carers.
  • A system wide approach with processes to assess for a learning difficulty has been developed.
  • A handbook has been developed to support staff to reflect a consistent, systemic approach to support students with evidence based best practice in learning difficulties.
  • Improved access to information, support, links and resources on learning difficulties is available on the Directorate website.
  • Partnerships with therapists.

Taskforce on Students with Learning Difficulties: Alignment with the Directorate Strategic Plan 2014-17 Education Capital: Leading the Nation

The Education Directorate Strategic Plan 2014-17 Education Capital: Leading the Nation, focused on the Directorates priorities for 2014-2017. Key aspects of the plan directly relate to the Learning Difficulties project deliverables.

These include:

  • building the capacity of teachers and leaders;
  • having high expectations for all students;
  • meeting the learning needs of every student;
  • building partnerships with families; and
  • engaging the community in building meaningful relationships.

Intent: In the ACT every child, young person and adult will benefit from a high quality accessible education, childcare and training system.


High Expectations, High Performance - Students at the centre.

  • Recommendations from the Taskforce on Students with Learning Difficulties to be implemented.

Quality Learning - Literacy, numeracy and science.

  • Provide comprehensive literacy and numeracy support for students
  • Further strengthen teaching and leadership in literacy, numeracy and science

Inspirational Teaching and Leadership - Quality teachers.

  • Ensure teacher access to quality professional learning

Indicators: Reduce the proportion of students performing at or below the national minimum standard for reading and numeracy.