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Special provision within the VCE and VCAL

The VCAA Special Provision policy provides students in defined circumstances with the opportunity to participate in and complete their secondary level studies.

The underlying principle of the VCAA Special Provision policy is to ensure that the most appropriate, fair and reasonable options are available for students to demonstrate their capabilities if their learning and assessment programs are affected by disability, illness, impairment or other circumstances. Special Provision should provide equivalent, alternative arrangements, but not confer an advantage to any student over other students.

Although there is no limit on the period of time allowed for a student to achieve the VCE or VCAL, the provisions available seek to help a student complete the requirements in a timeframe comparable to that of their peers.

Individual students may need special provision in their learning program to achieve the learning outcomes, and in assessment to demonstrate their learning and achievement.

At the same time, students who have been granted Special Provision are not exempt from meeting the requirements for satisfactory completion of the VCE or VCAL, or from being assessed against the outcomes for a study. Students are still required to demonstrate their achievement fairly in meeting the outcomes of the study design as well as completing School-based Assessments and VCE external assessments.

Similarly, the programs and assessment tasks designed for VCAL students should allow each student to successfully complete the learning program without compromising the expectations of each of the components of the program in accordance with course requirements. Specific eligibility criteria apply to the granting of Special Provision for the VCE or VCAL.

Types of Special Provision

Special Provision is available to students completing the VCE or VCAL for classroom learning, School-based Assessment and VCE external assessments.

Specific eligibility requirements apply for each type of Special Provision. Schools are primarily responsible for determining eligibility and the nature of the provisions granted for Classroom learning and School-based assessments.

Schools are encouraged to consult the VCAA if they are unsure about appropriate arrangements. The school’s policies and procedures should be clearly documented and communicated to students. It is strongly recommended that schools keep records of all decisions made for each student.

The VCAA is responsible for determining eligibility and granting provisions for VCE external assessments, which include all VCE examinations, the Extended Investigation Critical Thinking Test and oral presentation, and the General Achievement Test (GAT). Provisions can be:

Eligibility for Special Provision

Students may be eligible for Special Provision if, at any time, they are adversely affected in a significant way by:

  • an acute or chronic illness (physical or psychological)
  • factors relating to personal circumstance
  • an impairment or disability, including learning disorders.

These circumstances do not include matters or situations of the student’s own choosing, such as involvement in social or sporting activities or school events.

Prolonged absence from school or study is not in itself grounds for Special Provision. However, provisions are available to students experiencing severe hardship that may result in prolonged absence. Students granted Special Provision must still complete all school work related to satisfactory completion of the outcomes of a VCE or VCAL unit. Students absent from school for prolonged periods must still comply with the school’s authentication procedures to demonstrate that they have completed the work and that the work is their own. Students who are eligible for integration funding may not necessarily meet the eligibility criteria for Special Provision in the VCE or VCAL.

English as an Additional Language (EAL)

Students who have been granted EAL status on the basis of unfamiliarity with the English language are not eligible for Special Provision on this basis alone, unless they qualify for EAL status because of a hearing impairment.

Intellectual disability

The principal has the discretion to approve the enrolment of students with an intellectual disability in the VCE and VCAL. The VCAA does not place restrictions on this discretion. The principal is responsible for advising students of the likelihood of successfully achieving the published unit outcomes and for deciding appropriate arrangements at the school level.

If a student will be unable to achieve success within the specified framework of the VCE or VCAL, it may be more appropriate for the student to undertake a parallel, individualised teaching and learning program rather than enrol in VCE or VCAL studies. This strategy allows the student to participate in class with their peers and continue social engagement, and is more likely to eventuate in a positive outcome. In this case the school would issue its own report on the student’s individual achievement.

An integration support group within the school may advise the principal that formal enrolment in either a full or restricted VCE or VCAL program is the most appropriate action. In either case, the school decides the most appropriate program for the student.

The VCAA does not approve Special Examination Arrangements solely on the grounds of an intellectual disability.

Management of students requiring Special Provision

If a student requires Special Provision but is still deemed to be at risk of not being able to meet either the unit outcomes or satisfactory completion of the VCE or VCAL, the school should develop a management plan. One of the first steps in developing a management plan should be the establishment of a support group to help the students in undertaking the VCE or VCAL. Ideally, this support group should be established in the years prior to the commencement of VCE or VCAL. Similarly, if a student becomes chronically unwell during the course of their VCE or VCAL, a support group should be established.

The establishment of a support group also provides a focus for the administrative aspects of managing the student’s program of study. In addition, a support group allows for a formal structure through which decisions are made and actions verified. Involvement with a support group presents teachers with an opportunity to become better informed about the medical or personal situations of students.

A support group may include the student, a parent of the student, teacher/s or others nominated as having responsibility for the student, and any aides of the student. If appropriate, the support group should seek the advice of specialist consultants. The principal must ensure that advice from the support group is considered and implemented if it is judged to be consistent with VCE or VCAL policy.

Choosing a program of studies

The school, through the support group, should provide advice to the student to help them choose a program of studies. Such advice should encourage the choice of interesting and challenging studies, taking into consideration the nature of the student’s hardship and maximising their opportunity to learn. If a student is intent upon undertaking a study in which, given the student’s particular disability, it will be problematic to demonstrate the unit outcomes, the restraints and difficulties of proceeding with the study need to be made clear to the student. The expected time for completion of the program should be taken into consideration. If it is anticipated that a student will need deadline extensions to complete work, students may be advised to enrol in fewer units in a given year.

Use of assistive technology

In developing the study program, schools should consider the role of assistive technology in terms of how it could be used to enhance the learning process. For some students the use of technology is a requirement to effectively access education. Every effort should be made to ensure that assistive technology is available to help students achieve the objectives or learning outcomes of a unit.

While the use of assistive technology in learning strategies is encouraged, the use of new and emerging technologies should first be discussed with the VCAA, to avoid using a technology that is not appropriate or suitable for use in a VCE external assessment as part of Special Examination Arrangements. Technology used for School-based Assessments should be consistent with what the student will be allowed to use in a VCE external assessment.

Assistance from aides

Students may require assistance from an aide in order to effectively engage in the process of learning. If this is required, other assessment provisions, such as additional time to complete tasks, may be required. Assistance from aides may take the form of, for example, a reader, clarifier or scribe, depending on the nature of the student’s circumstance. Generally, this provision is for students with long-term disabilities. Note that a student’s current aide is not eligible to be appointed as a reader, clarifier, scribe or supervisor in a VCE external assessment, unless in exceptional circumstances. Contact VCAA Special Provision for advice if necessary.

Deferral of VCE studies

Students completing a VCE study at Units 3 and 4 level may be eligible for Compassionate Late Withdrawal if they are suffering major adverse circumstances and are unable to complete Unit 3.

Students who are unable to complete Unit 4 because of adverse circumstances should consider an application for Interrupted Studies. For more information, see Special provision for other circumstances.