Disability Inclusion Coordinator
Swan Hill Specialist School has growing enrolments and a strong positive profile in the local Swan Hill community. Located at the edge of the township in an urban area the school building is purpose built almost 20 years ago. Recent enhancements under various federal government initiatives have provided a hall and commercial kitchen, a kitchen garden and an indoor swimming pool. Relocatables have replaced several buildings and an additional four relocatable buildings have been the response to enrolment growth. The school site is large and accommodates a community kitchen gardenat the rear.
Sheltered play equipment is available for younger students, Middle Years access a newly developed inclusive play area and the school continues its work in upgrading and enhancing the external areas around the school.
Students come from a wide surrounding rural area with some travelling very long distances to access a specialist education. A high percentage of students come by subsided bus transport, including a self-managed bus service.
Students are from a diverse socio-economic background with many families significantly disadvantaged, evidenced by a high Student Family Occupation (SFO) density of 0.82. More boys (71.89%) than girls are enrolled with students disabilities ranging from moderate Intellectual Disability (ID) to mild intellectual disability with a wide range of diagnosis and associated conditions. Many students have a multi disability such as autism or a physical, emotional and behavioural disability. A small percentage of students come from language backgrounds other than English (LBOTE) and there are approximately 20% of students who come from an indigenous background. Recent enrolment growth and the need to provide a range of different program options and supporting staffing arrangements have been an important focus for the school over the last planning period.
There is a very supportive School Council who provide leadership and direction for the school. There are over 50 staff members almost equally divided between specialist teachers and Education Support Staff (ES),many staff members working at the school on a part time basis. Leadership of the school is by the principal, assistant principal and three leading teachers who currently coach staff across three sub-schools centered on the early years, middle years and senior school. These coaches have led the work across the school around curriculum and have extended the learning of all staff to build teacher capacity. A multi-disciplinary team of allied health professionals including a social worker, physiotherapist, speech pathologist are employed by the school and a school nurse and occupational therapist are contracted to the school to support classroom teachers to provide classroom based educational programs and to maintain safe physical environments and mobility advice. The school also has available a SSS Team.
Senior students undertake VCAL and capable students additionally undertake VET competency-based offerings. Class sizes are approximately six to thirteen students in each room with a teacher and education support (ES) member. Specialist programs in art, music and physical education are an integral part of the educational program. Each room has access to kitchen facilities to enable home crafts learning. Classrooms are equipped with modern ICT technology and there are netbooks and iPads as tools for learning.
The school has excellent links with the local community focused on educational opportunities, transition links, recreation and welfare. Programs such as Centres of Expertise are run through the school and provide quality links to other local schools. The SHSS regularly shares its expertise with neighboring schools. The school values are based on respect, tolerance, empathy, integrity and humour.
Swan Hill Specialist School (SHSS) continues its growth with 108 enrolments and a strong profile in the local Swan Hill community. Quality facilities on a large site are currently being updated following the schools master plan.
Teaching and Learning Coaches are working with 40 classroom and specialist teachers and ES staff to provide quality teaching and programs tailored specifically to the diverse needs of a range of students with intellectual disabilities, many of whom have a multi disability, including autism, or a physical, emotional or behavioral disability. The focus remains on quality, differentiated teaching and planning with evidence based assessment and reporting.
The curriculum is based on the Victorian Curriculum from A- D levels and Foundation to Year 10. Senior students undertake Victorian Curriculum studies at the appropriate level or are registered in VCAL and students additionally undertake VET competency based offerings