School years - information for families and professionals
Children with Down syndrome should attend the school of their parents' choice. In the past, many young people with Down syndrome have attended special schools for students with intellectual disabilities. However, research shows that the majority of children with Down syndrome make the best academic progress when they are educated in mainstream schools alongside their peers, with significant benefits in spoken language and social behaviour.
Down Syndrome Victoria therefore believes it is of critical importance to ensure as many students as possible have the opportunity to participate in mainstream education. The Down Syndrome Inclusion Support Service (DSISS)supports this important goal.
We believe that parents are in the best position to assess the relative strengths and weakness of their child and their particular educational and social needs. It is important for parents to consider a range of factors in choosing the best school option for their child.
Ultimately it is parent choice as to whether their child will attend one of the local mainstream schools or a specialist school. We encourage parents to visit all the schools that they may feel they could consider - even if they feel they have already decided whether to opt initially for a mainstream or specialist setting, it is likely to be beneficial to visit at least one example of each. There may only be a single specialist school option available, but there may well be more than one mainstream school, both within the government and independent school system. Visiting a number of schools will probably give parents a feel for what their priorities are in finding the right place for their child.
Down Syndrome Victoria are here to help and empower families to make their own decisions. We do our best to make sure they consider all options and have all the information available to them to make an informed choice.
The following links and information are relevant to families and professionals with a Primary or Secondary School aged child with Down syndrome.
Down Syndrome Victoria's Down Syndrome Inclusion Support Service (DSISS) - for students with Down syndrome, their schools and families
Choosing a school - a guide and checklist for parents
Education Systems and Funding - an introduction to education systems and funding for students with Down syndrome in Victoria
Locating a school - a guide for families relocating and needing to find a local school
Department of Education & Training - Students with Disabilities Handbook & Guidelines
Transition to School and Welcome to School - Department of Education & Early Childhood Development information for families who have children starting school
The Inclusive Classroom School Resource - an online resource for teachers and schools designed to enhance teacher engagement with students with a disability through partnerships with parents, increased understanding of family perspectives, practical tips and information. Association for Children with a Disability
Inclusion Support Program - help child care services (i.e. School Holiday Programs & Out of Hours Care Providers) to build their capacity to include children with additional needs
Bar None Community Awareness Kit for Schools provides information and curriculum support for teachers
You can obtain lists of government and non-government schools from the schools online website, which lists and gives details of all schools. For independent schools you can access a list at the Independent Schools Victoria website.
Need extra therapy for your child? Allied health services may be available to children up to the age of 13 under the Better Start initiative.
Student travel - The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD) has published new guidlines for Conveyance Allowances. Allowances are available to assist eligible students with the cost of travel to their local school.
For other information on topics such as behaviour, friendships, adolescent years and health see the online information section of this website.