Transition to primary school for children with disability

Enhanced transition planning can help the move to primary school go smoothly for children with disability.

Preparation and planning can be even more important for children with disability or developmental delay so that necessary adjustments and supports are in place before they start school.

Early childhood educators should plan early and work with the

  • child’s parent/carer(s)
  • primary school
  • other early childhood professionals.

An Easy English version of this topic has been written for parent/carer(s). See:

Enhanced transition planning

Enhanced transition planning for children with disability or developmental delay supports their continuity of learning and development.

Approaches to successful transitions may include:

  • starting transition planning early
  • using Program Support Groups (PSG)
  • completion of a Transition Learning and Development Statement gathering extra information about the child that needs to be given to the school. For example, Early ABLES learning reports and advice from allied professionals
  • sharing other relevant information to support the school to promote the child's wellbeing or safety by using the Information Sharing Schemes.
  • developing a relationship with the child’s new primary school.

Transition Learning and Development Statement (TLDS)

A Transition Learning and Development Statement gives schools relevant and timely information from early childhood professionals and families.

It makes sure schools have insights into the child’s learning and development before they start school, including information about the child’s wellbeing, interests, strengths and aspirations.

It may also include medical and child development documentation relating to the child’s additional needs. For example, test results, medical or diagnostic reports, behavioural triggers and the child’s strengths.

If a child has a disability or developmental delay the early childhood educator needs to complete the ‘1.2 Enhanced transitions for children with disability or developmental delay’ section of the Transition Learning and Development Statement.

Information families might want to share with the school

Families are crucial in supporting their child’s transition to school and educators play a key role in encouraging them to share relevant information about their child.

Some things families may want to share include:

  • their child’s interests, strengths and abilities
  • what to do in an emergency
  • tips for their child’s day-to-day self-care
  • things that can help settle their children such as soothing movements and sounds
  • cues and prompts that help engage their child. For example, picture exchange cards
  • assessment reports about their child’s medical background and their early intervention history.

Information other services should share with the school

If the child received extra support during early childhood, such as through the Preschool Field Officer Program, Kindergarten Inclusion Support (KIS), or from allied health professionals, it is important this information is shared with the school.

Information may include:

  • potential adjustments needed
  • types of support needed such as assistance to hold objects
  • the child’s level of learning and development, and independence
  • things that can help settle their children such as soothing movements and sounds
  • the child’s preferred approaches to learning new things
  • skills the child has developed and skills they are working on.

What the primary school might need to know

Schools might want extra information that helps them understand a child’s needs. This may include:

  • the impact of a child’s disability or developmental delay on their learning
  • how the disability or developmental delay might affect their participation in learning
  • any key strategies to help the child settle into school and support their learning and development
  • programs supporting the child’s participation at kindergarten during the previous year(s)
  • additional supports that might help the child and family with a more successful transition to school.

Disability Inclusion

Disability Inclusion has been introduced to provide extra support for children with disability in Victorian government schools. It will be rolled out across Victorian government schools between 2021 and 2025.

Disability Inclusion introduces the Disability Inclusion Profile, a written description of children's strengths and needs at school, designed to help schools give children the support they need.

When a Disability Inclusion Profile will occur

Schools should work with early childhood settings, families, students, and other professionals to support a positive transition to school and ensure the necessary adjustments are in place to support the child as they commence school.

Schools that have started to transition to Disability Inclusion can complete Disability Inclusion Profiles for eligible students.

In most cases, it is best to complete the Disability Inclusion Profile once a student has started school.

Where a child is receiving ongoing support from an inclusion or disability support service in an early childhood service, schools can ask for a profile meeting to occur before the child starts school. Refer to: Evidence of ongoing support from an inclusion or disability support service.

The profile process is not compulsory for any student. It requires consent from the parent/carer(s). It is the responsibility of the school, with the parents, student, and Student Support Group, to consider whether to complete a profile.

The Disability Inclusion Early Childhood Toolkit (DOCX, 918KB) can help early childhood teachers speak to parents and carers of children with disability to help them become familiar with Disability Inclusion in schools.

The Disability Inclusion Early Childhood Information for Families (DOCX, 415KB) has information to help parents and carers of kindergarten children with disability as they move to primary school.

For more information about Disability Inclusion, the Disability Inclusion Profile and to find out which areas are transitioning, visit Disability Inclusion: extra support for children with disability.

Suggested timelines for actions

Term 2 of kindergarten

  • School visits and enrolment. If the child has a disability or additional needs the school should be informed at enrolment to allow them time to plan an enhanced transition.

Term 3 of kindergarten

  • Information gathering. The Transition Learning and Development Statement can be used to support the gathering and sharing of key information.
  • Identification of key school contact. The school principal allocates a key contact to attend the Kindergarten-to-School Program Support Group meeting.

Term 4 of kindergarten

  • Update or completion of the child’s Transition Learning and Development Statement
  • School orientation visits. These give the child an opportunity to become familiar with the school and for parents to ask questions, tour the school (and if applicable, the Outside School Hours Care, (OSHC), and talk about adjustments that might need to be planned before the child starts school.

Program Support Group meetings are held to discuss and plan for the support needs of the child during their transition and start to school

Term 1 of the school year

  • Student support group meeting. The school coordinates this meeting. Early childhood professionals can be invited.

Autism spectrum disorder

A Primary school transition statement template (DOCX, 140KB) has been designed to support the gathering and sharing of relevant and useful information before to a child with autism starts school.

Deaf or hard of hearing

The Victorian Deaf Education Institute has designed a Transition to primary school kit. for educators and families to help with the transition to primary school for children who are deaf or hard of hearing with any level of hearing loss.

Transition for children with health care needs

If a child has a medical or health conditions it is important that accurate information is given to the school. For example, medications a child takes or emergency procedures such as when a child requires an Epipen® or has asthma.

If the child has a chronic condition, for example, one that impacts their movement, schools should be advised early. This is so they can review their school program to meet the needs of all children from the first day at school.

The process for sharing this information is the same as for other children, although it might need to happen earlier in the year, such as at enrolment. When appropriate, other reports should be submitted with the Transition Learning and Development Statement. This helps the prep teacher plan for the coming year.

Information about a child’s health is also provided in the school’s enrolment form and the School Entrant Health Questionnaire.

Student health support plan

Government schools must have a Student Health Support Plan (DOCX) for every child with an identified health condition, for example, diabetes, asthma or epilepsy. In the case of anaphylaxis, the school must have an Anaphylaxis Management Plan.

The plan should be guided by medical advice from the child’s medical or health practitioner and developed in consultation with the child and their family.

It is useful for schools, with the help of the student’s family, to fill out the Student Health Support Plan as part of the transition program.

More information

  • Transition: A positive start to school resource kit – includes guidance for early childhood professionals working with children and families while they transition to school. See section 3.7 for disability specific information and 3.8 for health information.
  • Transition Learning and Development Statement (TLDS) - helps prep teachers get to know the children entering their classes, and to plan appropriate learning and teaching programs.
  • Disability Standards for Education (PDF) - explains your obligations and the rights of students with disability.
  • Information Sharing Schemes(opens in a new window) - New Information Sharing Schemes enable authorised organisations, including Victorian government and non-government schools, kindergarten, long daycare and before and after school care services, to request and share information with each other to promote wellbeing or safety of children. Information sharing under the Schemes does not replace the TLDS but can be used alongside it to support a smooth and positive transition experience for children.