September 06, 2012
In Catholic Education South Australia the Special Education Program embraces the vision of educating students to participate in Church and the wider community.
In partnership with school communities and families, the Special Education Team from the Catholic Education Office promotes the access and inclusion of students with disabilities. The focus is on building respectful relationships with families, and using contemporary and creative practice to foster students’ lifelong learning.
Catholic Education SA provides special education assistance to schools with students with disabilities through the Special Education Program and the Special Education Team. Resourcing for individual students is negotiated annually on a needs basis.
At Whitefriars School we work in close partnership with parents to support all students. Students with disabilities are part of the mainstream classroom with extra support structures put in place to meet their learning needs. Currently we support students with language disabilities, hearing impairment, intellectual disabilities, physical disabilities and children on the Autism Spectrum.
Through funding provided by the Catholic Education Office, as well as additional funding the school provides, Education Support Officers (ESOs) are employed. We believe that ESOs need to be skilled and therefore we provide regular professional learning at the school level as well as accessing outside providers. We have several ESOs who have completed or are currently completing tertiary training through TAFE.
There are various programmes that are offered to cater for the Special Education/Adaptive Education students.
The Listening Program (TLP) is a music-based Auditory Stimulation method specifically designed to train the brain to improve the auditory and sensory processing skills needed to function more effectively in our lives. It consists of an extensive series of high quality music, primarily classical, with innovative sound processing techniques to exercise the auditory pathways and brain. Auditory information activates areas of the brain involved in movement, rhythm, vision and integration of sensory information as well as listening and language development. These are all fundamental to academic progress.
One of our ESOs is a trained Kinesiology practitioner. This ESO works in several classrooms introducing the students to simple exercises that stimulate both sides of the brain. These exercises help students with focus, concentration, communication, memory, co-ordination and many more skills.
As a school, we are constantly looking at ways to further support the students in our care. Currently we are looking at setting up:
The school also has Computer software programmes such as Reading Doctor. This makes the challenge of learning to read through phonics easier for children. The program automatically adjusts the learning support for each student and is a visually stimulating and interactive programme.
As well as ESOs, we have a dedicated group of volunteers who weekly offer their time to ‘The Learning Assistance Programme’ (LAP). This provides one-to-one learning support, enrichment and care for students of all ages with diverse academic and personal needs through the powerful and positive contributions of mentors/volunteers.
Through these various avenues the children in our school, and indeed across our system, are supported to be able to make the most of their learning opportunities to grow and develop to their fullest potential.