I am in the role of Additional Needs coordinator at Eltham High School, which also has a teaching component. I have a background in special education with a preference to working in a mainstream setting. I really enjoy the role of assisting students to have equitable access to an education. I believe the key to education is an ‘on the ground’ commitment to social justice which should be led by federal and state governments by providing an appropriate level of funding to support a whole school approach to disability rather than a divisive arrangement where students are either funded or not.
All teachers will experience through their teaching career, a mix of students in their classroom who have:
- Different learning styles
- A learning difficulty, which for example, may effect; their confidence, organisational skills, ability to start a task, copy from the board, plan for deadlines, use the school planner, speak in front of the class, complete a set of classroom or homework tasks.
- A disability which is not deemed serious enough to attract funding
- The ability to manage well in all learning environments
- Funding to support them due to a moderate to severe disability.
All teachers should be prepared to teach ‘The Mixed Ability Classroom.’
I continue to work with a highly skilled and committed team of Education Support staff to support students with a range of commonalities, strengths and challenges in a mainstream educational setting. In term 3 I have continued to write Individual Education Plans for students who require them – both Funded and Unfunded. In the last week of Term 3 the principal and I met with representatives from the state government to discuss the review of the Program for Students with Disabilities funding model.I will be running SSG’s and writing IEP’s for students who will be commencing in 2018.
‘Wanting to make a difference’ can of course be dismissed as an idealistic cliché, however any school community has much to gain from fully integrating students, providing an opportunity to benefit and learn from the experience of working with people who happen to also have a disability. Education of course is preparing for the future, but it also important to value every day of a life being lived.
Author: Sue Pickett