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What is an Individual Education Plan and Why Has My Child Received One?

writing which says " what is an individual education plan and why has my child received one? next to a picture of people planning together.

What Is An Individual Education Plan?

If you are a student teacher, beginning teacher, or parent you might be wondering what is an individual education plan? If your child's teacher has called or met with you to discuss putting them on an Individual Education Plan, you are probably feeling understandably worried. An IEP is not as scary as it sounds! It is actually a really good thing, and it means your child's teacher and school are making sure they are receiving everything they need to be as successful as possible.

An Individual Education Plan (IEP), sometimes called Individual Learning Plan (ILP) or Documented Plan is a document that is created by the school, usually the classroom teacher, to ensure that a student’s individual learning needs are being met.

They can be written for any student in primary or high school that has increased learning needs due to a variety of reasons. These may include;

  • Learning Disabilities

  • Not meeting current year level standard (D and E grades)

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

  • Emotional Disorders

  • Cognitive Challenges

  • Autism

  • Hearing Impairments

  • Visual Impairments

  • Speech or Language Impairment

  • Developmental Delay

  • Physical Disabilities

a quote which says "an individual education plan is a document that is created by the school, to ensure that a student's individual learning needs are being met".

What Is The Purpose Of An Individual Education Plan

The purpose of an Individual Education Plan is to make sure that a student is accessing the curriculum and that their learning needs are being met. It is about making sure that students who have special needs have equity in their education and that reasonable learning adjustments are being made to make sure that they have a positive school experience. The provision of reasonable adjustments for students with disabilities is mandated by the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and the Disability Standards for Education which apply across Australia.

Individual Education Plans make sure that schools can demonstrate that they have met their legal obligations to;

  • Ensure that students with special needs are able to participate in education in the same way as other students.

  • Plan for and provide teaching and learning adjustments for students with special needs; and

  • Liaise with the student’s parents or guardian in developing the educational plan and when deciding on the appropriate adjustments to be made.

How To Get An Individual Education Plan

Generally, the classroom teacher will develop the Individual Education Plan in consultation with parents/guardians, and any other professionals that are relevant to the students’ needs such as speech or occupational therapists. Students are identified as needing an Individual Education Plan if they have a formal diagnosis of any kind of disability or may be identified by their classroom teacher because they are not meeting the educational standards for their year level or are having some other kind of issue that is affecting their learning outcomes.

A quote which says " students need an individual education plan if they have a formal diagnosis of any kind of disability, or are identified by their classroom teacher because they are not meeting education standards for their year level.

What Does An Individual Education Plan Include?

Individual Education Plans usually include the following things;

  • Any background information about the student that is relevant to the situation. For example living arrangements, siblings, likes and dislikes, etc.

  • The child’s current levels of educational performance.

  • Any related services for which the child qualifies such as any learning interventions, school psychologist, speech therapy, etc.

  • Appropriate educational accommodations are necessary for the child to be successful

  • Individualised measurable goals and objectives so that the child can make progress.

a quote on top of a desk flatlay which says " IEP's should include all the ways the teacher/school will help the student to acheive the goals in their plan"

What Does An Individual Education Plan Look Like?

An Individual Education Plan should include the following;

  • Name and date of birth of the student

  • Classroom teacher

  • Date the IEP was created

  • Background information

  • Curriculum Area and learning goal(s) for each area

  • A detailed description of how each goal will be supported.

  • A place to write if the goal was achieved/not achieved with a comment

  • Areas for other teachers to include their goals if appropriate

  • A place for the classroom teacher, parents, specialists, principal to sign that they agree to the plan.


The Individual Education Plan should include “SMART” goals that are not too easy or too difficult for the student to achieve. They should be goals that will move students along in their learning and help them to make progress.

a quote which says " Parent tip, 3 goals per curriculum area is plenty!"

  • S = Specific – The goal needs to be clear so that it is understood by the student.

  • M = Measurable – Progress towards the goal must be objectively measurable.

  • A = Attainable – The goal needs to be realistic at that time.

  • R = Relevant – The goal needs to be something that will help the student to make progress.

  • T = Timely – The goal needs a realistic timeframe.

a quote which says "Individual Education Plan goals remember they should be SMART goals"


The IEP should include all the ways the teacher/school will help the student to achieve the goals in their plan. Here is a list of some strategies they might use;

  • Whole class explicit instruction

  • Teacher-led small group work

  • EA led small group work

  • 1:1 coaching

  • After school homework group

  • Visuals

  • Graphic organisers

  • Scaffolding

  • Extra practise

  • Checklists to monitor individual progress

  • Conferencing

  • Peer coaching

  • Using the gradual release model “I do, we do, you do”

  • Concrete materials and manipulatives

  • Intervention lessons

These are just some of the strategies there are many more!

Do I Get a Say?

Many parents aren't sure how much of a say they have in their child's IEP. You are absolutely allowed to have an input. When your child's teacher contacts you for a meeting, ask them if you can have a copy of the IEP beforehand so that you can read through and think about anything you might like changed or added. This also gives you the time to think about any questions you might have. Sometimes the school or teacher might want to wait until the meeting and that's okay. They aren't trying to stop you from having an input, it will be because they want to discuss it face to face first.

a quote which says "after the intial IEP meeting, a review meeting should be scheduled 7 to 10 weeks later."

After the initial IEP meeting, a review meeting should be scheduled 7 to 10 weeks later. At this meeting the teacher will discuss what goals were achieved and where to from here.


I hope this article has answered any questions about Individual Education Plans that you might have. If you would like to know more, pop a question in the comment section below.

Remember an Individual Education Plan is a good thing. But private tutoring can definitely help.

To book a tutoring session click here, or email us at to book a free assessment to see if tutoring is right for your child.

Related Articles

If you would like some more information about Individual Education Plans you can follow the links below.

For Parents