Personalised Learning Plans - Iti rearea teitei kahikatea ka taea

A personalised learning plan (PLP), individual learning plan (ILP), or an individual education plan (IEP), is a targeted plan for a gifted and talented learner.

Most kura, schools and ECE settings will be familiar with working with IEPs and ILPs for special needs learners. However, some kura,schools and ECE settings are utilising PLPs for all learners, or specifically for gifted and talented learners, within a schoolwide approach to personalised learning. PLPs deliver personalised learning aligned with the principles of 21st Century education (Bolstad et al, 2012). Russell (2013) provides an example of a PLP template and Russell & Riley (2011) outline how this can be utilised within a personalised approach to gifted and talented education.

In general IEPs, ILPs and PLPs can be utilised when the learner, the whānau or the school feel that a more personalised programme is necessary. Sometimes this will be because of the exceptional abilities of the learner, which require a customised pathway through the kura, school. or ECE setting It may be because the learner is twice exceptional, with their high potential being affected or masked by a specific learning disability, physical impairment, disorder or condition (Niederer, 2013).

Setting up an IEP/ILP/PLP

In general IEPs/ILPs/PLPs should state the learner’s strengths, interests and passions, any barriers to success and any areas of concern or weakness; specific short-term goals (and sometimes long-term goals) and the specific actions needed to accomplish these; who is responsible for the actions; what resources will be needed; and when the IEP/ILP/PLP will be reviewed next.

Niederer (2013, pp.16–17) suggests the following questions to consider during an IEP discussion (these can also inform ILPs and PLPs):

  • Do the learners, school and parents/whānau all recognise and acknowledge the learner’s particular gifts? How have these been identified?
  • Does the learner have a plan for the development of their gifts and if not, could the school/parents/whānau help them to develop one? This will apply more as the learner gets older.
  • What does the learner feel is working for them at present and what is not working? What suggestions do they have for the sort of support they want?
  • Are there ways in which the school/parents/whānau can collaborate to provide greater support and more opportunities for the learner to optimise their gifts?
  • Does the learner have a teacher within the school or a mentor that they could talk to about any of this?
  • What about internal factors – is the learner good at time management, staying on task, organisation and so on? Is support needed and who will provide this? What are key motivators for the learner – intrinsic or extrinsic?
  • What has been tried in the past? Has it worked? What are the lessons to be learnt from this?

The IEP/ILP/PLP needs to be completed in collaboration with the learner and their parents/whānau. Each person needs to be aware of the plan and their role in it. The plan should be reviewed at regular intervals to ensure the IEP is meeting its target.

Regardless of the template used, an IEP should include the following information (Niederer, 2013):

  • who was present at the IEP planning meeting
  • the reasons for the IEP
  • the student’s specific areas of high ability or giftedness, as well as any areas of concern
  • the specific, measureable actions that are planned to support the development of the student, as well as who is responsible for taking these actions
  • any outside agencies that will be involved
  • how progress will be measured, monitored and reported on, and by whom
  • how progress will be shared
  • a timeframe for reviewing the IEP and who will be included in the review (p.17).

Schools should establish their own criteria to decide who does, and who does not, need an IEP.