BENDIGO schools will be among the first in the state to receive more funding to support students with a disability.
Education Minister James Merlino confirmed the government would provide $1.6 billion to schools through the Disability Inclusion package.
From mid-2021, state schools in the Loddon Mallee region will receive money to provide targeted support for students who were previously ineligible for funding, including children with autism, dyslexia, or complex behaviours.
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Mr Merlino said about 55,000 Victorian students would be supported through the scheme - more than double the number of children currently assisted under the Program for Students with Disabilities.
Kennington Primary School principal Travis Eddy said the changes had been in the works for a long time.
"It's very, very welcome," he said. "When these kids are identified, the schools support them to the best of their abilities.
"But for those kids who are on the border, this will really help them."
Mr Eddy said schools would be able to decide how best to use the money - whether it was for additional teacher aides, speech pathologists, or other programs.
"It depends on the needs of the child and it can be quite individualised," he said. "It's just about the individual child and supporting them."
Kangaroo Flat Primary School principal Kim Saddlier said any investment into inclusive education was welcome.
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"There has been a significant review into how the money needs to be spent," she said. "I think all schools will benefit from it to better support students who may have been previously ineligible."
Ms Saddlier's school last week won the Outstanding Inclusive Education Award at the 2020 Victorian Education Excellence Awards.
She said it was important schools worked with students and families to achieve the best outcomes.
"I firmly believe that this will actually make a significant difference to schools and have a flow-on effect to students," Ms Saddlier said.
"Not all schools have been able to provide the level of care in this space. This will be a significant investment that has the potential to transform what we do."
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