The purpose, development, title and importance of personalised planning differs across educational systems and sectors right around the nation. Some refer to the products as Individual Education Plans, others Individual Support Plans. In Queensland, for example, personalised planning is broken into a variety of sub-plans that fulfil different decisions, such as: Personalised Learning entries, Support Provisions, and Individual Curriculum Plans. In some states and systems personalised planning is mandatory for students with disability, and are a non-negotiable requirement to draw down targeted funding and resources. Regardless of these nuanced differences, there is a place for personalised planning; and who contributes, how the products are situated and what they aim to achieve, is vital to establishing and framing their value.
Consider for a moment the most recent time that you have been involved in a personalised planning scenario…
Who were you planning for? What role did you play? Why were you doing the planning? Did you feel comfortable with the planning process? What was the outcome? Is the plan still current and at the forefront?
My early-career experiences regarding personalised planning were always about accountability, compliance, documenting the deficit, presumption, and stereotypes. The process was time consuming, and even after all of that hard work they were filed away and rarely looked at or referred to; unless needed as some form of proof that we were doing something to support the student. Teachers found them difficult to connect with, particularly in a high school setting where they saw multiple classes of students sporadically across a timetable. They were a record of the ideal supports and services that would benefit the student, but they were not necessarily contextual or realised at the practice level. This was because of a disconnect between planner and plan, student and plan, and teacher and plan. An anecdote of experience that is still present in many schools today.
This status quo approach to personalised planning is driven by a reasons focus. That is, the plan is framed and compiled to adhere to the expectations of people and factors external from the student. Simply put, they’re born out of compliance. This bares results that are often anything but personal and are not supportive of a student’s true vision, contribution and experience.
Personalised planning actually sits within the bigger principle of Planning for Personalised Learning. There is obligation and direction around this which sits at the legislation level. The Planning for Personalised Learning and Support: A National Resource falls out of the Disability Standards for Education (DSE). It articulates that schools have a responsibility for maximising the outcomes and wellbeing of all students, and for providing access to high-quality education this is free from discrimination. For this to be achieved, it is stated that educators need to provide personalised learning that aims to fulfil the diverse capabilities of each student. This is consistent with the principles embodied within General Comment No. 4 (UNCRPD: Article 24) and in The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians.
As a result, quality differentiated teaching and learning should be the baseline for all students. This differentiation should be responsive to analysis of real-time student need, and should sit alongside teaching and learning experiences that are clearly aligned to the curriculum in its design entirety. An expectation that is strengthened through alignment of the AITSL Proficient Teacher standards and the Australian Curriculum design and implementation provisions.
Therefore, the main record of personalised planning should actually be evident in teacher curriculum planning, and in lesson execution. A living, breathing form of personalised planning that is highly contextual, responsive, and purposeful to the individual experiences that occur for all students with and without disability across different subjects and learning environments.
Beyond this scope, however, exist functional impacts that require the consistent response of individualised adjustments and modifications. Although these may still be picked up and catered for within a well-designed lesson, they are usually non-negotiables that on a daily basis either have the power to restrict or enable a student with disability to be successful. Therefore, it is at this level that the purposeful necessity for personalised planning as a product is realised.
*This is the first part in a 3 part blog series that explores Personalised Planning