SHENTON COLLEGE DEAF EDUCATION CENTRE
ANNUAL REPORT 2016
Shenton College Deaf Education Centre (SCDEC) is a secondary school co-located on site with Shenton College. (SC) This is a unique situation where SCDEC is a separate school but operates without geographical boundaries within Shenton College. SCDEC has formed a working relationship with Shenton College to develop an inclusive program to best meet the needs of each student. We are pleased to share a co-located learning environment with one of the top public schools in the state.
Our mission at SCDEC, like the motto of Shenton College “Much more than marks – Learning for life”, is to provide a quality educational environment for Deaf and hard of hearing students, which prepares them for the future. Access to the curriculum is provided via Auslan and English with an additional vital focus on supporting the use of audiological equipment where appropriate and necessary. Teacher of the Deaf, Rae Walker, has taken on the role of our link to Australian Hearing. The input of family and community is highly valued at SCDEC and direct contact with families is appreciated and respected, taking place at least weekly. Families who are from different cultural backgrounds (e.g. Deaf/Aboriginal/ESL) have their circumstances taken into account when communicating with them.
How does our co-location work?
Learning programs are tailored to meet the educational needs and preferences of individual students and include academic and vocational pathways. The use of information communication technology (ICT) is integral to all learning programs. Through our partnership with Shenton College, students are able to access mainstream curriculum and extracurricular activities. The priorities at SCDEC are literacy, numeracy, communicative competence and work readiness. Embedded in this is the development of the student as a whole person, empowered to take their place in society. This is achieved through designing a learning environment that is supportive, stimulating and fosters independence.
Our co-location with Shenton College (SC) enables our students to access mainstream classes. This partnership offers a wonderful opportunity for students to participate in an inclusive learning environment that offers “a range of creativity and enrichment programs and courses personalized to students’ needs.” (Shenton College Annual Report) It is important to note also the support we also receive from the experts in the student services team.
SCDEC students participate in mainstream Shenton College classes in a variety of ways:
In all situations the Teacher of the Deaf works very closely with mainstream teachers to ensure that the learning program and curriculum differentiation is appropriate for the student. Reporting matches that of Shenton College where students receive Mid Semester and Mid - Year and End of Year reports. These reports contain a combination of information from SC and SCDEC with our school taking responsibility for their overall comments, collation and distribution.
The needs of each student are identified through a collaborative approach. This approach is made up of: formal assessments both mainstream (NAPLAN) and Deaf focused (The Yarc); discussion with parents; the student; and staff from both the SCDEC and SC, including anecdotal observations by staff. This information is then used to formulate an Individual Education Plan (IEP) for each student enrolled. The IEP identifies and prioritises targets for the student and is an ongoing working document that is used and reviewed regularly. One new focus will be the need to include strengths on the IEP.
The VET Sector and Years 11 and 12
In 2016, SCDEC rested their program for workplace readiness for those students in Year 12, as all three of our 12s were doing general courses. One of our Year 12 students completed a work based sport program in the exam weeks. Three out of three Year 12 students graduated with a WACE in 2016. One successfully made it into the Murdoch enabling program. In 2016, one Year 11 student was in a successful CAP based traineeship with the support of SC.
In 2017 we will have students for work experience off-site in a vocational pathway for up to two days per week. This allows our students the opportunity to engage with VET programs at TAFE and to commence specific traineeships, with communication access provided on-site in workplaces and at TAFE by our SCDEC interpreters and additional learning support provided back at school by our teachers of the Deaf.
Types of contact with families and related agencies
Given the core business of SCDEC is to grow each child in a holistic manner and to prepare engaged citizens of the world, regular contact with parents and guardians is held as a priority. This is partly driven by some parents being unable to communicate with their child so direct contact is necessary. This is ensured through communication via parent information nights, a social afternoon tea at the start of the academic year, using the students’ diary, their students having notes, phone calls, text messages and face to face meetings.
Our fortnightly parent e-newsletter with a visual focus has continued to support and enhance positive communications between parents, students and the SCDEC. This newsletter also informs the NW District Office and the School of Special Educational Needs: Sensory (SSENS) of our activities.
As the schools work closely together, every family also receives a copy of the Shenton College “Highlights” newsletter. Our website is kept up to date to ensure parents can view upcoming events on the calendar, read the latest news, and view photos of their children participating in educational events at school.
Student Services and Pastoral Care
Due to our specialist nature, our adolescent students require extra direct pastoral care and support, and we employed psychologist Jane Ebert for 2016 for 0.2 FTE. In 2015/2016, we ran “The Fab Years of Mental Health” to add to the support she offered due to the increased risk of mental health issues in our student population (45% of deaf students face mental health issues vs 25% of the hearing population). Programs that the staff and students have completed this year included “Youth Mental Health First Aid” and all staff have also completed “Protective Behaviours” courses. Students also explored Protective Behaviours in 2016. In 2017 we will be looking at the Year of Strength.
Pastoral care is an important part of our program at SCDEC, and our links with Shenton College also mean our students can access mainstream student support services and participate in programs for students at risk or in need of special support, such as those run by Shenton Challenge chaplaincy service. Our Chaplain Corey Piestrzeniewicz, fluent in Auslan, works two days a week, and plans are in place for SCDEC to increase those days in 2017.
Opportunities to add value
To assist in their development, students are encouraged to join extra curricular activities provided by Shenton College and the broader community. When a student chooses to participate, SCDEC provides the interpreting support required. In 2016, this included activities such as participating in an AFL footy team, school dances, concerts, various sports teams, school camps and Shenton Challenge.
SCDEC employs a teacher of Auslan to undertake classes for DEC students, hearing students of Shenton College and staff members of both schools. These classes have occurred both during DEC timetabled school time and after school in 2016. In 2016 we continued to translate our school reports into Auslan, so students and Deaf parents can access report information in both Auslan and English.
At SCDEC we employ 2.0 FTE Deaf mentors. For Deaf children, positive interactions with Deaf adults are essential for developing the self-esteem and confidence critical to becoming independent adults and citizens of the world. Adults who share the experience of deafness serve as an unparalleled source of guidance, knowledge, inspiration and reassurance for Deaf children. Depending on the Deaf staff member, they share childhood experiences, communication in the family, schooling, tertiary studies, employment experiences, barriers to participation in society and how these have been overcome, personal or professional achievements, sporting success, future dreams and aspirations, etc. This expands Deaf students’ exposure to different signing varieties and dialects; people from different backgrounds; and a view of possible ‘futures’ in terms of options for Deaf students, all critical given that more than 90% of Deaf children are born into hearing families and do not often have a variety of adult Deaf role models in their lives. Deaf mentors model to students the importance of making the most of educational opportunities, working hard to achieve things in life, and living life to their fullest potential.
The National Week of Deaf People (NWDP) in 2016 resulted in a number of events and activities held in WA, and SCDEC was delighted to jointly convene a collaborative event during NWDP, participating in a day excursion to Government House. The deaf school always puts on a major thank you event for hearing staff in this week as well. In addition, in 2016, the Year 10 Auslan students in the mainstream Auslan program at Shenton College coordinated an outstanding all day NWDP event on site at Shenton, inviting important members of the Deaf community into the school for guided tours, speeches and performances. The event was student-run and was highly successful.
This past year SCDEC students have joined others in the following activities: lunch clubs, assisting and participating in carnivals, Keys for Life Pre-Driver Education Program, drama productions in Auslan, the sailing program, and school camps.
Auslan as a LOTE
In an historic move for Western Australia in 2014, Auslan as a Language other than English (LOTE) was formally introduced in a collaborative partnership between three schools and the WA Deaf Society. SCDEC teacher Dr Karen Bontempo became Curriculum Leader for Auslan and developed a state based curriculum for use from year 5 to year 10. Her work extended to detailed term planning and lesson plans for years 5, 6 and 8 in 2014, with work on Years 7 and 9 completed in 2015, and Year 10 in 2016. In 2017 the Year 11 curriculum will be written and delivered, and our students will undertake Auslan as an ATAR subject in 2018 – the first cohort to do so in WA. SCDEC continues to oversee the implementation of the program at Shenton College developing materials and resources for use in each school setting and contributing to the on-site delivery in those locations. This collaborative endeavor has been recognized as a highly innovative initiative, with a number of successful conference presentations and a great deal of media attention regarding the Auslan as a LOTE program. This program extended to providing students with a Certificiate II in Auslan in 2016 via recognized prior learning to Year 10s and a Certificate III in Auslan was achieved by 15 students in Year 10 in 2016 – an outstanding VET achievement unparalleled in Australia at this secondary school level. Auslan as a LOTE has proven to be in high demand at Shenton College in particular, where classes are full, and the language option is offered as a competitive choice against French, Chinese and Japanese. Currently over 120 students in Shenton College participate in formal Auslan classes from years 7 to 11, including approximately 20 deaf students.
As a result of this tremendous work, Dr Karen Bontempo was awarded Secondary Teacher of the Year for 2016. Only one year earlier, she was awarded Level 3 Classroom Teacher status.
Following are some points detailing school management:
School Council - this is made up of parents, community members, teachers of the Deaf, non-teaching staff and the principal. Parents are readily encouraged to join and be a part of the management team.
Parent Information Sessions – these nights are run for both current parents and prospective parents, giving the opportunity to learn and have questions answered about SCDEC. In conjunction with SSENS, prospective parents are welcomed for scoping visits and sessions are held for new parents together so they can meet.
Staff management – This is a Level 3 school managed by Leanne Potter.
All staff underwent a performance management process in Term 1 and Term 4 of 2016. Communication is seen as vital in such a big school where even the staff of the SCDEC number 40. Teachers and Deaf Mentors participate in regular fortnightly team meetings. Educational Interpreters and Educational Notetakers meet weekly for a half an hour after school. These meeting have a positive focus as staff needs to collaborate when working with the same student.
Staff participated in a range of professional development and professional learning opportunities in 2016, supported by the school. It requires a special mention that Karen Bontempo, Claire Blackwell and Rae Walker continued to work on their Master of Special Education (Deaf and hard of hearing) at the University of Newcastle in 2016. When attendance was required in Sydney by these teachers, SCDEC supported this on the ground with relief staff.
Professional learning attended is linked to the school plan and Departmental strategic directions and priorities. The work of our staff does not take into account the many and varied additional personal and professional development opportunities our dedicated staff team undertakes in their own time. Many of our non-teaching staff are completing undergraduate degrees or TAFE qualifications; and a number of our teaching staff are also participating in TAFE courses or postgraduate studies. All SCDEC staff are to be commended for their high level of personal accountability and their clear commitment to life-long learning. A detailed list of professional learning undertaken by staff can be found on our website.
Our staff are highly reflective practitioners, (Reflection being the highest form of Learning – Biswas-Diener) and they hold as a priority at all times, the positive outcomes of students. This is demonstrated in the following ways:
For further details please review the SCDEC website: http://dec.shenton.wa.edu.au