The Special Education Resource Unit and Fulham Gardens Primary School Performing Arts Centre again was the venue for our first Parent Forum for 2019 on March 22nd. With a comprehensive program, about 90 participants attended, sharing information and ideas about the services and support available for children and young people with a disability.
We would like to share with you some of the presentations and information collected and a full report of the day can be found here.
Ann-Marie Hayes, Executive Director, Early Years and Child Development opened the forum, highlighting some of the new directions of the department including:
- the Strategic Plan and vision to build a stronger future for our children
- the Draft Parent Engagement Framework; and
- the State Disability Inclusion Plan.
World Class education was the focus of the introduction, presented by Ian May, Director Disability, Policy and Programs. Our goal is to be first class and these forums are contributing by enabling ongoing discussions. They have grown with new parents attending each event, supporting our work for change. Connecting with the country families is still an area that requires some intensive work so they are able to share and contribute in the future.
Ian challenged participants, asking them to “tell us what world class means to you”. They responded with energetic table talk and the diversity of their responses is indicative of their depth of thought and the strong beliefs they have about the education system they want for their children.
Ian introduced Jenice Zerna the President of the South Australian Association of School Parent Communities, a volunteer organisation that connects with parents in schools. Jenice visits sites throughout the state, offering support to parents. The association produces a Parent Say magazine, sent to all preschools and schools. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The keynote address by Cathy Clark, Project Implementation Manager- Preschool and School, focussed on the newly released Inclusive Education Support Program (IESP). The funding model had been a hot topic at previous parent forums. The information parents provided was listened to and put into action, contributing to the development of the new model. At this stage, the new funding model is for children and young people in mainstream preschool and school settings. Work around the funding model for special options (including special classes, schools and units) is in the early stages.
The model is a “Reform agenda” not just a “process” change that reframes the way funding has previously been allocated. The vision of the IESP is that ALL children/students in public preschools and schools receive the support they need to:
- belong to their preschool community
- engage purposefully in learning
- experience academic success.
It focusses on the child /student’s functional needs in their learning context and the personalised accommodations and adjustments put in place. The significant points that Cathy presented included:
- that from the end of 2018 all students who were accessing the Disability Support Program (DSP) were translated into the new IESP and allocated a category 1-9 funding level and a review date
- a use of common language
- the IESP process aligns with the documentation of the personalised learning plans eg One Plan or equivalent into which the parents have the opportunity to develop with the preschool/school
- a review date set by the IESP Panel and will ensure all plans and funding allocations are reviewed when a review of services and funding is required
- a transparent, accountable process.
There will be no reduction in money or support while the new process is being put in place.
Participants were asked to provide feedback about the positive elements of the IESP and were given the opportunity to ask a range of questions for follow up.
In the afternoon parents chose to attend two of eight different workshops.
Bullying a whole school approach presented by Karen Robinson, Student Wellbeing Leader, Port Elliot Primary School. Parents heard the strategies used to provide a whole school team approach to address bullying and look after the wellbeing of all the children in their care.
First time attendees: Working Through the Maze presented by Kerry Parker, Assistant Director Disability and Learning. Providing the opportunity for first time attendees to hear about the background of the forums, ask questions and talk about topics their interested in learning more about.
Interoception presented by Kelly Vincent, Senior Advisor Neurodiversity. Parents gained insight into the lesser known sense that helps you understand and feel what is going on inside your body.
A visit to the Special Education Resource Unit led by Anne Creighton Arnold, Senior Advisor Teaching and Learning, provided the opportunity for the parents to browse through the resource unit, become a member and find out what SERU offers.
Anxiety and Mental Health presented by Kelly Vincent, Senior Advisor Neurodiversity. A brief introduction and discussion about anxiety and mental health difficulties; allowing participants to share their experiences and what works for them.
Post School Options: Hot Topics presented by Sharon Jackson, Manager Transition Centres. A diverse and open discussion where parents agreed that schools needed a clear resource and guidance in this area. They acknowledged that they needed to help themselves by being prepared in meetings, seeking own solutions for transport issues and being proactive.
Deaf Culture presented by Donovan Cresdee, Sign Language Australia. A presentation about Deaf Culture in South Australia
Social Skills Strategies, presented by Libby Brown, Manager, Special Education Resource Unit. This session looked at the hierarchy of social skills and why a child might behave the way they do, then explored how a parent could support their child to develop the skills they need.
A Survey was distributed to all participants to collect feedback and a summary can be found here. The data is being analysed and will be presented to the new Parent Forum Reference Group.
The day closed with Ian May summarising the key points that parent’s had raised in their table talk about what they believed was World Class.
The next forum is in week 8 of term 2 on Friday 21st June 2019 at SERU and Fulham Gardens, the conference is in term 3 week 10 on Wednesday 25th September 2019 at the Adelaide Hilton