Depending on the needs and the profile of the individual student, several different plans are often required to ensure that the student fully benefits from school programs and makes a successful transition into adult life. If these plans are developed separately, there is a risk of considerable duplication of effort and an even greater risk that the plans will contradict each other. It is therefore recommended that school boards and school principals develop procedures to integrate planning for students with special education needs. For example, a student's various plans might be coordinated by a team of core participants at a multipurpose planning meeting scheduled for the start of each semester or school year. It is also important to note that integrated planning must observe all regulatory or policy requirements governing individual plans.

The IPRC statement of decision, where available, provides a starting point for integrated planning, in that it identifies the student's strengths and needs and may make program and service recommendations, all of which must be taken into consideration when developing the IEP and other plans.

The following sections review some of the plans that a student may have, and identify potential areas of overlap among the plans.

The Individual Education Plan (IEP) and the Transition Plan

The regulatory requirement that the transition plan be a part of the student's IEP leaves to the discretion of the school board or school the extent to which these two plans are integrated. The components of the transition plan may be:

  • collected in a separate section of the IEP; or
  • collected in a distinct document appended to the IEP.

As previously noted, it may be appropriate in some cases (especially for students with complex needs) for the transition–plan portion of the IEP to be developed in a meeting devoted exclusively to that purpose. In these cases, the challenge will be to ensure that the transition plan is compatible with the rest of the IEP. The actions documented in the transition plan must be consistent with the goals, learning expectations, supports, and accommodations identified in the student's IEP. To achieve this, the transition plan should be reviewed and revised in the light of all aspects of the IEP.

The All About Me Portfolio and the Individual Pathways Plan (IPP)

The policy outlined in Creating Pathways to Success: An Education and Career/Life Planning Program for Ontario Schools – Policy and Program Requirements, Kindergarten to Grade 12 (2013) requires all students, including students with special education needs, to develop an Individual Pathways Plan (IPP) (Grades 7–12). Students in Kindergarten to Grade 6 have the option of developing an All About Me portfolio. The portfolio and IPP are developed by the student and belong to the student. The information individual students may share from their portfolios or IPPs may provide additional insight into their particular learning strengths, needs, interests, and aspirations, which may help to inform the development (or annual revisions) of their IEPs, including the transition plan.

Supporting transitions for students is an important aspect of the education and career/life planning program outlined in Creating Pathways to Success. In this program, students use an inquiry process built on four questions linked to the four areas of learning in education and career/life planning – Knowing Yourself; Exploring Opportunities; Making Decisions and Setting Goals; and Achieving Goals and Making Transitions. The evidence students gather as part of this process supports them as they move from grade to grade, from elementary to secondary school, and from secondary school to their initial postsecondary destination.

Work Experience and Cooperative Education Learning Plans

Students participating in work experience and cooperative education programs have learning plans that outline their learning goals and activities. Details of the requirements for these learning plans are set out in the Ministry of Education policy document Cooperative Education and Other Forms of Experiential Learning: Policies and Procedures for Ontario Secondary Schools (2000).

Work experience and cooperative education programs provide students, including students with special education needs, with an opportunity to learn more about themselves (their strengths and interests), their communities, and the nature of the workplace. To ensure a meaningful learning experience for the student, educators who are involved in developing the student's learning plan and establishing the student's placement must ensure that both are consistent with the student's goals, strengths, and needs, as documented in the student's IPRC statement of decision and the student's IEP, including the transition plan.

Students' work experience can affect their interests and goals. Consequently, the perceptions of the student, parent, job coach (where applicable), and teachers about the student's recent work experience or cooperative education experience may help shape the next year's transition plan and IEP.

Health and Safety Support Plans

Other planning and administrative documents may be associated with the health and safety supports required by some students with special education needs. The services outlined in these documents form part of the framework of support for the student and should be integrated into the planning process so that they are consistent with the IEP. These plans may include the following:

  • A safety plan: A safety plan is developed for students whose behaviour is known to pose an ongoing risk to themselves, other students, staff, or other people in general. It can serve as a crisis-response plan that outlines the roles and responsibilities of the staff in dealing with specific problem behaviours. The development of a safety plan involves all staff members who work on an ongoing basis with a student, as well as parents and representatives from any community agencies working with the student and/or family.
  • A behaviour support plan: A behaviour support plan is designed to target the underlying reason for an inappropriate behaviour, replace the inappropriate behaviour with an appropriate behaviour that serves the same function, and reduce or eliminate the inappropriate behaviour. In school boards, behaviour support plans are sometimes referred to as “behaviour management plans”.
  • A medical plan: A medical plan is developed for students with serious health issues. It should be comprehensive and include an emergency health care plan, a list of any environmental accommodations the student requires, and information about in-service education for staff.