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Student Support Services

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Student Support Services works with preschools and schools where there are children and young people who have particular educational support needs. This can include:

  • developmental delay and disability
  • learning difficulties
  • behavioural issues – social and emotional
  • health or wellbeing issues
  • disengagement and non-attendance issues
  • communication difficulties.

Your preschool or school will discuss your child’s needs with the department’s Student Support Services team. We'll provide advice, recommendations and involve our team members if necessary.

Services we offer

Here's an overview of the types of support services we can offer your child through preschool and school.

Behaviour support coach

As teachers, we work with the school leadership team to build on knowledge and skills that can help students with additional behavioural support needs. By promoting and supporting socially acceptable and positive behaviours, we can also help with any educational concerns.

Speech pathology

Working together with preschools and schools, we help children and young people who need speech, language and communication support. This can include assessment and intervention services, as well as working with staff to increase their capability to meet the learning and wellbeing needs of these children.


Working closely with you, we play a role in assessing and identifying children and young people with additional learning and behavioural needs. We help schools and preschools to choose and carry out interventions to support learning, wellbeing and enjoyment of school. We also educate schools and parents about topics such as learning disorders and cognitive processes (thinking and reasoning).

Aboriginal Education Services

An understanding of Aboriginal cultural and community knowledge underpins our work and recommendations. Our staff can tailor their approach to support students and their families and to help schools and preschools get the best out of their Aboriginal children and young people.

Special educator and special educator (hearing)

As teachers, we support schools and families to improve learning and wellbeing for students with disabilities, including those who are deaf or hard of hearing, have learning difficulties or health support needs. We also help school staff to adjust and adapt the curriculum to support these students.

Social work – truancy

We support schools to create inclusive learning environments and ways of working with children and young people to encourage their attendance and achievement. A positive school culture that welcomes all children and builds strong family and community connections is our goal.

English as an additional language or dialect

We work with students, teachers, school leaders and families to help children and young people whose first language is not English to adapt to and thrive in public schools. Our approach promotes strong and supportive social, emotional and inclusive environments and practices.

How the process works

We work together with you, your child and school staff to help your child thrive at preschool or school. This is a time specific service, with clear goals to guide us. Our aim is to help the preschool or school to build their expertise to support the learning needs of all children, including yours.

To do this, we may:

  • review existing information
  • observe your child in class or elsewhere at school
  • conduct formal assessments and recommendations
  • discuss your child’s learning and behavioural challenges
  • talk about this with preschool and school staff and family
  • hold staff training and development sessions
  • coach and mentor preschool and school staff
  • help staff to develop strategies
  • coordinate other services
  • refer your child to other supports or agencies.

These videos show how Student Support Services can work with your school or preschool.

Improving a schools response to trauma

Improving a schools response to trauma video transcript

David Brown: When the special classes started, we had two classes start, a junior primary class and an upper primary class. The junior primary class presented as a typical special class with similar needs to a lot of the others that you would come across. The upper primary class within the first week we found out was a lot different. The students were exhibiting a lot of violence, aggression, swearing and an inability to self-regulate how they feel all the time.

Tevita Ikahihifo: We had multiple suspensions, take-homes, classroom trashing, running around the school, we had runaways, people refusing to transition from one class to another, stealing other people's properties and things like that.

Sarah Anstey: Student Support Services offers a range of services to preschools and schools. We have multidisciplinary teams, so we have speech pathology, social work, psychology and we have specialist educators, so in special education and behaviour support. They work together as a multidisciplinary team to work closely with preschools and schools in assisting children and young people to engage in their learning and improve their well-being outcomes. We do this both individual one-on-one but we also do this proactively to work with preschools and schools to develop their capacity. It's really important for us to work closely with preschools and schools to ensure our services are really meeting the needs of the children in that school but also that the needs of the teachers are met with what we deliver. We really value collaborating with parents, families and carers and also obviously that we're child centred, so we're really focused on the needs of the individual child.

David Brown: We contacted our special educator initially because that's our first point of contact.

Diane Brownlee: The special educator works with the parents and the families of the children to make sure that the plans are developed and that everyone's happy with it. There are evidence-based practice implemented into their plans. The school's role is to implement those plans into action and the special educator has a role in helping with that as well.

Kari Walsh: The role of the psychologist is to consult with sites in terms of student needs including behaviour, learning and well-being. So I supported the school through developing a, I guess a training, professional development opportunity around understanding trauma in the classroom which specifically targeted the teachers understanding of what those behaviours mean and rather than it being through a behaviour management lens we looked at it through a trauma lens. It was reframing it for them and providing them, I guess permission to almost engage in a more flexible learning approach and it was more about focusing on the relationship and getting these kids to feel safe within a classroom and safe with one another.

Tevita Ikahihifo: That gave us a better knowledge of how to approach trauma kids because initially we were trying to enforce the law, the school rules and values. However after the psychologist taught us not engage with them where their heightened or in fight or flight mode. However giving them play-based things so that way they can calm themselves down.

David Brown: She also provided a training information session to our whole school because these kids spend so much of the time outside of the class as well as inside the class we really needed the school to be on board and this was a completely new approach that we did for these students, something we had never done before. After working with these students over the course of that first year these students are absolutely amazing! They're some of our most fun well-respected students in the school. They are fully engaged back in the classroom. We get reports from outside in the community as well as the staff around the school. They cannot believe how amazing these students are now and we're so proud of what they've been able to achieve from where they started.

Kari Walsh: I know this sounds like it's a cliche but the best thing about working with schools and preschools is the support and developing a really positive and collaborative working relationship with each site. We trust one another and in order to, I guess affect change, we need to have those sorts of relationships with our sites.

End of transcript.

How Student Support Services helps students – Brandon's story

Brandon's story video transcript

Jen Bratovic: Brandon is a member of the disability unit at Para Hills. He has an intellectual disability, is an Aboriginal student and a child in care. He was very shy, he was hard to make a relationship with, he was reluctant to talk and you know, you might get a one or two word response out of him. But he had a twinkle in his eye and you know, he was appealing and nice to work with.

Emma Ramke: What we provide for students is a very individualised curriculum with a very individual focus around what each student wants and needs. We work with families to establish really clear learning goals and outcomes and are really pivotal in the planning of their post school life and that's where I think that we saw a really significant turnaround for Brandon, is supporting him to make those lifelong decisions from an early age. Brandon's schooling throughout year nine and ten was extremely complex. He was often referred to me through behaviour support, refused to engage in any level of learning.

Jen Bratovic: My role with Brandon was actually more to help and support Emma and his class teachers and support people in the unit and Support Services are invited in and sometimes we do have an active role and you know, conducting observations and so on in the classroom but it was more trying to find a creative way that we could support and engage Brandon.

Teresa Bruno: The role of a behaviour support coach in Support Services is to support schools and sites, students and families around students who are experiencing difficulties, issues with engaging within education and most importantly it's our role to support all of those key providers so that students experience a sense of wellbeing, a sense of engagement so that they can actually experience success in learning.

Frank Macri: For Brandon it was about making sure that we ensured education continued that the we transitioned him back in the school and we maintained our relationships with him to be successful.

Emma Ramke: So what do you remember about Frank and Teresa, the behaviour coaches and Jen as the special educator?

Brandon: They turned me around so I don't get suspended, or exclusion and I didn't and I did the right thing. I listened to them and then did my work and complete.

Emma Ramke: What was your goal that you set yourself?

Brandon: Finishing my work, completing my work, finish year twelve and mum and dad proud of me.

Emma Ramke: Brandon is one of those people that you can be very proud to say that he was your student. He's now completed his year twelve, he has his graduation next week, he has left with his modified SACE, he's met his own personal goal, he's registered with a school leaver employment service, he's independent living and has turned into a young man.

[End of transcript]

Steps we follow

Our services usually follow these steps:
  • the preschool or school will discuss your child’s needs with us
  • we'll give advice and recommendations
  • the preschool or school will apply these recommendations
  • if the preschool or school needs our specialist support, they will discuss their concerns with you and ask for your permission before making a request to us for help
  • after we have your permission, we'll contact you to discuss how we will work with you, your child and their preschool or school before we start any work.

It's a good idea to talk with your child’s preschool or school about what support for your child will mean for your family and your child’s progress. There may also be occasions when we will meet or talk directly with you. You may withdraw permission at any time. Permission or withdrawal of permission does not apply to social work truancy services because attendance is a legal requirement.

Information sharing

Sometimes, we will share information with other service providers working with your child’s preschool or school. This means you should not have to repeat any information. You can be confident that everyone is working together to help your child.

Parent and carer brochure

To share this information, download and print a copy of our Student Support Services overview for parents and carers (PDF 399KB).

Local Student Support Services office

For enquiries, please contact your local Student Support Services office.

Student Support Services