The College welcomes students from diverse cultural and socio-economic backgrounds and abilities and adopts an inclusive approach to all activities. Within the charism of Catherine McAuley and the inspiration of Mother Ursula Frayne the College defines inclusivity as the acceptance of difference as the norm and, hence, embraces diversity through sensitivity and responsiveness to the diverse contexts of students’ lives.
The College is cognisant of its obligations to students with special learning needs. In particular, that the rights of people with disabilities are extended into education where the principles of inclusive education are enshrined in Church Doctrine, International, Commonwealth and State legislation and instruments (see Diagram 1).
Diagram 1 – Factors guiding the teaching and learning of students with disabilities in Catholic Schools
The College takes the view that Inclusive Education does not see children with problems, but aims to eliminate the problems within the education system that prevent all children from participating fully in the regular schooling process (see Diagram 2).
(A) Old School Problems – Fitting Square Pegs in Round Holes
(B) New School thinking – Catering for Uniqueness
Diagram 2 – A view to achieving inclusivity at Ursula Frayne Catholic College
Education support at Ursula Frayne Catholic College on the Balmoral Street Campus currently operates with one part-time fully qualified and experienced teacher and one part-time qualified and experienced teaching assistant. There is a well resourced classroom available for withdrawal work with pupils on a 1-1 or small group basis if necessary. Currently, the support is predominantly classroom based enabling students to access the curriculum through greater on task support, differentiated curriculum materials and providing specifically targeted resources.
Class teachers and specialist teachers are kept informed about the difficulties students can and do experience. They are encouraged to attend a range of relevant professional development courses to increase their awareness and skills in addressing varied disabilities. There is shared ownership between parents, class teachers and specialist staff in developing and reviewing the Individual Education Plans, Health Plans and Curriculum Adjustment Plans.
The Duncan Street Campus operates a special needs centre within a mainstream environment. The centre is staffed by well qualified and experienced teachers and teachers’ assistants. Mainstream staff participate in professional development opportunities and collaborate with centre staff in the preparation of learning programs for students with special learning needs.
The Middle and Senior Schools’ support program at Ursula Frayne Catholic College provides a variety of support options to a number of students with a diverse range of disabilities. Typically the program looks to provide opportunities for all students to participate in regular classes with ongoing support and modified programming. Additionally, students are engaged in a number of programs focussed on developing specific academic, social, recreational and independent type skills.
The Middle School support program is aimed at maximising the regular school experience for students with disabilities. Presently, all students participate in their regular core classes, along with electives. This is achieved on the basis of co-teaching arrangements in core classes, along with one to one teacher assistant support and intensive back-up in the support class. Additionally, students in the support program are engaged in specific academic programs focussing on the development of language, numeracy and social skills.
Functional programs will be introduced for those Middle School students who require an alternative curriculum (see Diagrams 3 & 4). These students will attend mainstream classes (with the support of a Teachers’ Assistant) for Religious Education periods and all Electives. Students who are capable of successfully participating in mainstream classes for other learning areas will be given the opportunity to do so. The main aim of Education Support will be to provide each student with the skills necessary to assist them to minimise dependence and maximise independence. Appropriate individualised programs will be used to help each student to reach their potential and will focus on the development of academic, social, recreational and emotional skills to enable them to lead full and productive adult lives.
Diagram 3 – Education Support Middle School Program (Years 7 – 9)
Diagram 4 – Education Support Middle School Program (Years 7 – 9)
The Senior School Program for students with disabilities aims to prepare students for life after school focusing on literacy, numeracy, living skills, work experience and leisure activities. The goal for the majority of students is for them to gain employment and/or further education. For some, the goal will be to make choices and to communicate their need.
A more vocational pathway is offered as an alternative to tertiary education where students have the opportunity to sample different job opportunities and practice skills in real work environments.
Many students with disabilities have a greater need for these types of programs, as they may have difficulty transferring skills from simulated to real settings and require increased opportunities to practice skills.
Education Support has developed a variety of program initiatives to cater for the diverse range of students with disabilities. Preliminary Stage A or B (PA/PB) units provide students with opportunities for practical and supported learning to develop the skills required to be successful upon leaving school or in the transition to Stage 1 units (see Diagram 5). These units are not graded; they are recorded as having been completed. Post-school pathways may include TAFE and the workplace.
Diagram 5 – Education Support Senior School Program (Years 7 – 9)
Business Management and Enterprise
The focus of this unit is participation in school-based business activities that incorporate literacy and numeracy, which requires a combination of skills, creativity, initiative and enterprise to operate effectively.
Food, Science and Technology
The emphasis is on food skills. Life skills are explored in the area of food preparation and presentation. In this unit students learn skills to assist in promoting independence. Budgeting, shopping, adapting recipes and reading food labels are all skills that will be examined.
Religion and Life
The focus for this unit is story and religion. This unit helps students develop a basic understanding of religion by familiarising them with some of the main features of story. Students participate in the Christian Service Learning Program.
Students use whole numbers for purposes to meet their daily needs, including money matters, understanding time and measurement, and following simple directions and recognising familiar shapes.
The focus is on independence. Students continue to develop and apply language skills with increasing independence within their family, school, social and community settings. Students receive personalised support in the development and use of their individual communication. Students engage with a variety of personally relevant and familiar print, visual and oral texts to develop and extend their communication skills and further enhance their social interactions.
The focus of Life Skills is on independence. The students focus on success at work and home, including responsibilities at work, independent living, understanding money management, looking after your body and transport training.