Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

Auslan as a LOTE at Shenton

Shenton College Deaf Education Centre is a school co-located on site with Shenton College. The deaf school has students enrolled across Years 7 to 12, and most of these students are mainstreamed into the highly inclusive Shenton College school community, supported by interpreters, notetakers, Deaf mentors and specialist teachers of deaf students.

Research on the emotional and mental well-being of deaf adolescents, notes that up to 46% of deaf children may experience mental health issues. Research also indicates that one of the key protective elements in mitigating the risk of mental health incidents in deaf adolescents is by increasing one’s peer network, which traditionally may be restricted due to the communication barriers deaf students may face. The peer factor, where children feel a sense of belonging and acceptance; the education factor where the child feels valued as an individual and diversity is respected within the school; and the community factor where the child has larger social network and quality relationships are all known powerful protective factors for emotional well-being and for developing resilience in adolescents in particular.

In response to the keen interest of the Principals of both co-located schools in enhancing this protective buffer for deaf students, and in further increasing the accessibility of the wider school community, an action research project was undertaken by Shenton College Deaf Education Centre in collaboration with Shenton College in 2013. This resulted in the development of the first formal curriculum for Auslan (Australian Sign Language) in WA and the implementation of Auslan as a second language learning option at Shenton College in 2014. As of 2017, Auslan is available from Years 7 to 11 at Shenton, and is in high demand as a language option.

As a methodology, action research is commonplace in education settings, with practicing classroom teachers ideally placed to identify a problem requiring further exploration, planning action, implementing a solution, evaluating outcomes and reflecting on progress. In this particular case, an action research approach was a powerful way to introduce innovation in Western Australian classrooms, upon identification of the pressing need for formal Auslan teaching to a mixed deaf and hearing cohort of students.

The work initiated by Shenton College Deaf Education Centre directly impacted on Shenton College, Belmont City College and Mosman Park Primary School, with curriculum and teaching support provided across campuses in an interschool collaboration. Actions taken included the establishment of a stakeholder steering committee, extensive consultation, a research and development phase, the design of the first scoped and sequenced curriculum in Western Australia for teaching Auslan across several year groups to both deaf and hearing mainstream students (from years 5 to 10), the delivery of quality teaching in the classroom, systematic reflection, and an ongoing research process. A partnership with a community organisation, the WA Deaf Society, was initiated to support the delivery of the program by Deaf native signers, and a successful immersion approach was adopted in the classroom, premised on current international research and best practice.

The content and structure of the Auslan program at Shenton College is under constant review and comprehensive data has been collected to date in relation to student outcomes, and program evaluation. This has included documenting the impacts on deaf students in the school, as their peer networks have increased. Reflections on the successful pedagogical practices, as well as the challenges faced during both the curriculum development and the program implementation stages of this project have been shared in several conference presentations to date, and via the submission of an abstract to a scholarly journal (article in development). Furthermore, our journey and experiences have helped shape the Australian Curriculum: Auslan, with one SCDEC staff member appointed as a lead writer and another as a member of the stakeholder group (both later delivered consultation workshops locally in WA, as well as training for Auslan teachers) on the ACARA curriculum team for this language. The national curriculum for Auslan from Foundation to Year 10 was approved by ACARA in December 2016.

Shenton College entered into an auspicing agreement with North Metropolitan TAFE to deliver Certificate III in Auslan to the Year 10 cohort of Auslan students in 2016 – this is the inaugural group of students who commenced their Auslan studies in Year 8 in 2014. Due to the extensive assessment data and work samples collected in past years, we have succeeded in also obtaining Recognised Prior Learning for the Certificate II in Auslan for these students. To the best of our knowledge, delivery of Certificate III in Auslan to Year 10s in a school is a national first, affirming our ground-breaking work. This positive relationship with TAFE has continued in 2017, with Cert II RPL provided to our current Year 10 cohort, and delivery of Cert III to Year 10s underway this year. In addition, SCSA has approved our Year 11 students applying for RPL for Cert IV in Auslan in 2017 with North Metropolitan TAFE and a submission seeking this will be submitted later this year, contingent upon student evidence and demonstration of requisite skills.

Negotiations with the School Curriculum and Standards Authority in 2016 led to confirmation that Shenton College can deliver Auslan as a WACE subject (Year 11 in 2017 and Year 12 in 2018) using a syllabus we have adapted in consultation with SCSA from the Collaborative Curriculum and Assessment Framework for Languages (CCAFL). Students studying Auslan in WA in Year 12, 2018 will be eligible for the language bonus.

The Auslan program at Shenton College has been a tremendously successful action research initiative, with many positive developments for both deaf and hearing students. The implementation of Auslan in Year 11 and 12 in 2017 and 2018 will be closely monitored, and Years 7 to 10 will be systematically reviewed to guide further action, with a focus on continuous improvement of Auslan teaching and learning at Shenton College.

All deaf and hard of hearing students enrolling with Shenton College Deaf Education Centre from 2014 onwards will undertake the study of Auslan, either as a formal LOTE option in the second language learners classroom from Year 7, or in a remedial Centre-based program if students are late learners of Auslan as a first language.

For more information regarding the Auslan program at Shenton, please contact Dr Karen Bontempo on karen.bontempo@education.wa.edu.au or Patricia Levitzke-Gray on patricia.levitzke-gray@education.wa.edu.au.