Primary Learning Area

The Primary Years at Yarraville Special Developmental School caters for students ranging from 5 – 12 years old. Our warm, safe, friendly environment helps students to learn and develop skills to increase independence. As an integral part of school life, we support students to settle, move confidently around the school and learn the daily routines.

We aim to achieve the highest level of progress for each individual enabling them to communicate effectively, develop independent living and social skills, self-manage emotions, manage transitions, develop friendships and become confident citizens.

The environment is adapted to meet students’ needs – it is highly structured, calm, safe and secure providing opportunities to learn, explore, play and socialise. Our highly skilled and dedicated team of teachers, education support staff and Allied Health staff work closely together to make every school day a success for our students.

Secondary Learning Area

The Secondary Learning Area caters for students who range from 12 years and older with the aim of providing increased opportunities for community and based learning and work experience both in the school environment and out. With the implementation of programs such as:

  • Projects with Purpose,
  • Electives,
  • Work Experience,
  • Canteen,
  • Café
  • Travel Education

Students are able to participate in a range of Applied Learning activities which can be essential to them pursuing their chosen pathway after school.

In the interest of ensuring that all of the students in our Learning Area are having their needs and interests met and taken into consideration we have introduced the SPICE Learning program. The SPICE acronym stands for S-social, P-physical, I-intellectual, C-Cultural and E-emotional and is aimed at our students with complex needs.

We have begun to address students’ physical needs with twice-weekly swimming at Yarraville Swim Centre as well as 2 Proprioception sessions which are run by Tim Witcombe, our Physical Education teacher which have been designed with Bel Mullen, our physiotherapist’s input.

We are hoping our students will enjoy socialising with each other during Travel Education which sees a group going out into the community and sharing morning tea or lunch together.

Students engage intellectually on a daily basis with literacy strategies such as Language Experience, Predictable Chart Writing, Signing In as well as reading and writing activities based on the Four Blocks/Balanced Literacy program in all classrooms.

Classes explore different cultural music, dances and meals during Performing Arts and cooking classes.

In order to help students with their emotional needs students have the opportunity to participate in two sessions of Mindfulness per week where students are taught strategies to self-regulate and relax.

The Secondary Learning Area Professional Learning Team (PLT) is made up of all the Learning Area’s teachers. There is a continuous focus on improving student outcomes and the teaching and learning of communication. Teachers work on ensuring that these aspects are interwoven into all activities that students undertake at school and pursue excellence in teaching and learning. All of the staff in the Learning Area are commit to providing our students with opportunities that will help to best equip them for a successful life post school. We plan to keep further expanding these experiences and look forward to watching our young adults grow from strength to strength.


Visual Art at Yarraville SDS is an essential part of the learning environment. Art has the ability to promote self-confidence and esteem by being fun and exploration based. Students at our school are provided with an opportunity once a week to engage in these experiences. They learn through sensory and creative use of materials. They share, communicate, turn take, work on fine motor skills and make choices.

Every two years the school has an Art show. This gives the students an opportunity to express their ideas, share their work and comment on the work of others. It is also an opportunity to socialise and be recognised for their achievements.

Health & Physical Education

Health and Physical Education at Yarraville SDS focuses on students enhancing their own and others’ health, safety, wellbeing and physical activity participation in varied and changing contexts. Students aim to develop their knowledge, understanding and skills to strengthen their sense of self, and build and manage satisfying relationships.

The curriculum we focus on helps our students to be resilient, and to make decisions and take actions to promote their health, safety and physical activity participation. Integral to Health and Physical Education is the acquisition of movement skills, concepts and strategies that help enable our students to confidently, competently and creatively participate in a range of physical activities.

Movement is a powerful medium for learning, through which our students endeavour to acquire, practise and refine their own personal, behavioural, social and cognitive skills. Through movement, we provide opportunities for our students to develop skills, self-efficacy and dispositions to advocate for, and positively influence, their own and others’ health and wellbeing.

Yarraville SDS offers an array of Intra and Inter School Sports, and Sporting program. These include:

Inter School Sports – Working in conjunction with the Northern Special Schools Sports Association (NSSSA), the middle areas and senior students of Yarraville SDS are provided the opportunity to partake and compete in weekly organized and modified Sports against other Special and Special Developmental Schools within the Northern and Western regions of Victoria. Previous sports that have been undertaken have included Hockey, Basketball, Cricket, Golf, AFL, Soccer, Beach Volleyball, Lawn Bowls, Ten Pin Bowling, Netball, etc.

Soccer Program – Established in 2015, Yarraville SDS has formed a solid relationship with Yarraville Glory FC and its (now ex) managing coach, Rob Sneddon. Since then, many of our middle area students have been provided the opportunity to engage in regular activity, with the intention to understand the movements of their bodies and that of object manipulation, progressing to cementing their knowledge of rules, and the etiquettes of gameplay and teamwork.

Athletics Day Carnival – 2016 saw the re-inauguration of Yarraville SDS’s whole school Athletics Day Carnival. Since then, it has become an annual event, making links to current sporting events such as the Olympics, the Commonwealth Games, Health & PE Day, etc.

Swimming Program – With the financial support from Sporting Schools, Yarraville SDS has been able to provide our students with both intensive and/or weekly swim lesson. Working in affiliation with both Yarraville Swim Centre and Maribyrnong Aquatic Centre, students of Yarraville receive professional education in to the importance of water safety, and basic and fundamental skills involved in water education.

Student Teacher Sports Programs – Obtaining close ties with organisations such as Victoria University and SEDA College, students from Yarraville are regularly provided opportunities to engage with sport-motivated students to develop their skill set, knowledge and understanding of movements related to various movements and sports.

Performing Arts

To the student, the Performing arts program is simply a fun music and dance class that gives them the opportunity to have fun and to be a part of a group. The program incorporates music and dance to engage our students in the teaching and learning process.

In the Performing arts program at YSDS, students develop an awareness of music as they listen and respond, sing, play instruments, create and improvise. As students learn to communicate musically, they lay the foundation for life long enjoyment of and participation in music.

In dance, students integrate thinking, moving and feeling through movement the dance elements – students explore and identify their body, space, time, energy and relationships.

The following areas are a focus in the performing arts program.


  • Expressive
  • Receptive


  • Fine motor
  • Gross motor


  • Think
  • Reason
  • Problem solve
  • Process information


  • The ability to interact with others and express feelings and ideas appropriately.

Self Help/Adaptive

  • Daily living skills


Our school based Café is designed to provide work experience for students in the Secondary Learning Area. Open to staff and visitors to the school 3 mornings a week, it provides learning outcomes for students in Literacy, Numeracy and Personal Development.

Students practice skill development in the areas of:

  • Coffee making
  • Kitchen hand duties
  • Customer service
  • Money handling
  • Work safety

The Café program is fun and purposeful and also ensures that our Secondary students access the curriculum in meaningful ways to develop work, life, communication and independence skills for their lives beyond school.

We would like to acknowledge that our Café program has been made possible through donations from the Sidney Myer small grants program, Kefford Grants, the Commonwealth Bank, Altona as well as the Altona Men’s Shed who have fitted-out the space.


Students who participate in the Canteen program learn a variety of skills beyond cooking. With the main objective to provide lunch to students who order it across the school, they also practice shopping for ingredients, collating orders, counting money, delivering to the correct people as well as cleaning up the kitchen on a weekly basis.


During Electives students are encouraged to develop their interests which can be further expanded upon once they leave school. Students have taken part in programs such as:

  • Swimming
  • Photography
  • Maths Games
  • Mindfulness

Electives are continually evolving to reflect our student’s interests and skills.


Swimming at Yarraville Special Developmental School addresses the four focus areas that have a specific reference to swimming and water safety as highlighted within the Victorian Curriculum. Having a primary focus around addressing issues of safety around and/or near water, we also focus on the fundamental movement skills in swimming such as floating and moving the body through water. Furthermore, we endeavour to promote the benefits of swimming such as health, fitness and well-being to potentially make it a lifelong physical activity, whilst also providing challenging and adventurous activities for our students.

Yarraville SDS provides two forms of swimming programs to our students. These include:

  • Primary Learning Area Swimming Program: Working in collaboration with Maribyrnong Aquatic Centre, Yarraville SDS provides our students with an annual 5-day intensive swimming program. Developing students muscle memory by consolidating specific motor tasks through repetition, we largely focus student learning around water safety, and the bodies’ movement through and the flotation in water.
  • Secondary Learning Area Swimming Program: Working in collaboration with Yarraville Swim Centre, selected students are provided a weekly opportunity to develop and learn water safety, whilst promoting swimming and a lifelong physical activity. Through our SPICE program, we focus on engaging and developing our students learning in all 5 letter meanings of the acronym – Social, Physical, Intellectual, Cultural, and Emotional.


School Wide Positive Behaviour Support

The purpose of School Wide Positive Behaviour Support (SWPBS) at Yarraville Special Developmental School is to establish and maintain a positive and safe learning environment that enhances our school culture. Students are taught the expected behaviours in all areas of the school and are rewarded for demonstrating these throughout the day.

The benefits of SWPBS is to:

  • Build a positive culture that promotes social and academic success
  • Identify and prevent problematic behaviour in its early stages
  • Explicitly teach appropriate social skills to all students
  • Use data to assess and improve the culture of our school

SWPBS is a three-tiered approach with specific intervention principles and strategies at each tier. This pyramid diagram represents the continuum of school-wide instructional and positive behaviour support strategies that are applicable at three levels.