Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Primary School Inclusion: The Nuts and Bolts #3

#3 Learning Support Co-ordinator

You know that centre part of the bicycle wheel that holds all the spokes in place and somehow connects the wheel itself to the bicycle. Well,  I'm not sure what the name is for that 'thingamajig' is but that is what the Learning Support Co-ordinator is to Pinelands North Primary School in terms of making inclusive education a reality.

Rose-Anne Reynolds currently fulfils this role with much passion, a wealth of knowledge and a firm and feisty belief that no child is to be labelled as "special needs" (with the implication the other kids are normal and this child not). Rather she holds that all children have needs which are reflected in different ways and at different times of their school careers. And the school aims to support each child with their particular needs. But more on that later in a later post.

Rose-Anne is a qualified educator, but doesn't teach a class of her own. Rather she supports the educators in the school by working with them to find creative and unique solutions to support the various children in their classrooms. This means meeting with parents, connecting with the children, linking with the educators, networking with therapists, and mentoring facilitators so that these creative solutions are found, agreed upon and implemented. And I'm certain she probably does a whole lot more than this!

Our experience has been that she meets with me every two weeks to chat through how Matt is coping. She gives me feedback from his facilitator and educator. She listens to my concerns and recommendations. I also give her feedback from Matt's Occupational Therapist and Speech Therapist. Together we work out what could work for Matt. Sometimes the solutions are easy, other times it means setting up a meeting with others in the school system. She then communicates what has been discussed to the various people in Matt's life at the school. She also has played a major and continuous role in supporting, training and mentoring Matt's facilitator.

From my observation, this role of a Learning Support Co-ordinator relieves much of the potential chaos that educators could experience when having children with diverse needs in one classroom. In fact, I would go as far as to say, that without such a person, the inclusiveness and flexibility of the school system would not be possible.

Remember that this school is a government (public) school with modest school fees - from my understanding there have been creative ways to fund and establish this position of a Learning Support Co-ordinator. For details on how that was done, please chat to Ann Morton, principal of Pinelands North Primary School.

UPDATE: Check out Rose-Anne's blog for some inspiring thoughts on education and inclusion...all from a perspective of an educator.
Blog posts in this series:
Introduction - for more on why I am doing this series on how inclusion can work in real life
# 1 Leadership with Vision
# 2 A Flexible System with Creative Solutions
# 4 The Facilitator
# 5 The Classroom

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