The sMAG (School Music Action Group, Victoria) welcomes the recent release of The Education State: Review of the Program for Students with Disabilities report (the PSD Report): a most comprehensive approach to perhaps some of the most profoundly challenging, sometimes controversial dilemmas, cultures and big issues in local, national and international education communities. sMAG was delighted to embrace the opportunity to prepare a submission to this most important review. http://www.education.vic.gov.au/Documents/about/department/PSD-Review-Report.pdf . Further, we welcome the 2016 -17 Victorian Budget and the clear commitment to put financial support behind this important sector. While our interest group is Music education specific, the 25 broad and overarching recommendations, if implemented, will benefit all education delivery throughout Victoria and support any learning program for students with disabilities. You would understand, we believe the inclusion of Music Education directly for students with disabilities will only enhance their development.
We welcome the inclusivity within your documentation – clearly stated on page 37;
The goals relate to all students, including those with disabilities. The targets recognise that education is about more than traditional academic pursuits and includes excellence in the arts, critical thinking, resilience, creativity, and health and wellbeing. These targets raise expectations for all students, including students with disabilities.
The Education State agenda focuses on inclusion and collective responsibility and stems from the belief that with the right support, every student can succeed.
We acknowledge that the PSD Review was thorough. The formation of expert advice and guidance groups; commissioning a number of wide-ranging literature reviews; conduct of a number of in-person consultations with stakeholders; and submissions to online submissions and survey from a wide sector of the community were received. All contributed to more fully inform the appraisal of politically, economically, environmentally, socially and culturally sustainable law, public policy and procedures, and professional practices to support the education of children and young people with special needs in the State of Victoria.
The PSD Report acknowledged some of the local, national and international instrumentalities, implementation bodies, procedures, human rights and justice mechanisms. Instrumentalities, bodies, procedures, human rights and justice mechanisms have, over time, advanced notions of inclusivity, integration and normalisation of these children and young people in education systems.
The PSD Report is the most recent of many such appraisals of law, public policy and procedures, and professional practice in Victoria since the mid 1980s, which is absolutely fundamental to the education of these children and young people. Gains over the past three decades have not been made without engaging in, sometimes fierce, contests of ideas. So, the PSD Report pondered: where we have come from?
First, the PSD Report acknowledged benefits to all students and broader society; reported on an inequitable exposure to, and patchy quality of special education; detailed various funding sources; and advocated for optimum funding and governance arrangements. Indeed, the PSD Report highlighted exemplary programs in several school settings in Victoria that embrace notions of inclusivity, integration and normalisation of these children and young people.
Second, the PSD Report acknowledged that, by definition, contexts of the local and national curriculum, assessment and reporting frameworks are fraught. The PSD Report articulated support for a cohesive and inclusive approach to frameworks that have a full focus on needs and interests of children and young people with special needs.
Third, the PSD Report considered the profound and complex challenge of workforce capability, i.e., training of classroom teachers and specialist teachers, allied health professionals and education support staff who work in the special education sector.
Now, where we are going? There is cause for cautious optimism. sMAG congratulates the Honourable Minister on the positive response to the PSD Report that works toward politically, economically, environmentally, socially and culturally sustainable law, public policy and procedures, and professional practices to support children and young people with special needs in the Victorian education system.
sMAG is delighted that the PSD Report considered some of these most profoundly challenging, sometimes controversial dilemmas, cultures and big issues. sMAG welcomes the many press releases and budget documents that direct funding sources to further support these dilemmas, cultures and big issues. The common mission and vision of quality education for all is a tough gig. But, with the profound challenges, there are profound opportunities in equal measure.
For example, the PSD Report noted that statutory local and national curriculum, assessment and reporting authorities have recently begun to develop a continuum of extended rubrics with descriptors of development and learning in all learning areas. Children and young people with special needs can thus work toward development and learning described in respective Foundation Levels. sMAG implores the Honourable Minister to take courage to facilitate further collaborative development of a cohesive and inclusive approach to frameworks that include a full focus on needs and interests of children and young people with special needs, particularly in the context of several reviews into schools music education in recent years 1, 2, 3.
The profound and complex challenge of workforce capability, i.e., training of classroom teachers and specialist teachers, allied health professionals and education support staff who work in the special education sector was also considered in the TEMAG Final Report (Australian Government, 2015) 4. sMAG implores the Honourable Minister to take courage to facilitate further collaborative development of workforce capability in this sector, in particular with relevant Federal government colleagues.
1. Henley, D (2011). The Importance of Music: A National Plan for Music Education. London: Department for Education/Department for Culture, Media and Sport. PDF retrieved 01.05.2016 from
2. Parliament of Victoria (Education and Training Committee) (2013). Inquiry into the extent, benefits and potential of music education in Victorian schools. Melbourne: Victorian Government Printer. PDF retrieved 01.05.2016 from
3. Pascoe, R., Leong, S., MacCallum, J., Mackinlay, E., Marsh, K., Smith, R (Bob)., Church, T., Winterton, A. (2005). National Review of School Music Education: Augmenting the Diminished. Canberra: Department of Education, Science and Training. PDF retrieved 01.05.2016 from
4. Australian Government, 2015. TEMAG Final Report. Action Now: Classroom Ready Teachers. Canberra, Australian Capital Territory: author. PDF retrieved 01.05.2016 from <http://www.studentsfirst.gov.au/teacher-education-ministerial-advisory-group>.