Not all students learn the same way. As Jordan McMULLEN reports Woodridge State High School has introduced tailored programs to help students overcome learning obstacles inside the classroom.
SPECIAL education programs are quite normal in Queensland schools – but Woodridge State High School’s program gives an entirely different meaning to the word special.
Woodridge High is a diverse community, hosting students from more than 65 different ethnic groups.
These include ethnicities from all over the world, including people from Australia’s Indigenous community.
However, alongside this cultural diversity, there are other significant differences in the make-up of the school’s community.
While most of the students are successful in completing the school’s mainstream curriculum, students with special needs require more assistance than others to succeed in their studies.
These students can suffer from several issues including speech, language, intellectual, psychological and physical disabilities.
To properly support the needs of these students the school established a Special Needs Services, a faculty that focuses specifically on providing assistance for these students.
Shirley Van Zyl, Head of Special Needs Services at the school, says the department is involved in planning education programs for 87 students.
“It is not a blanket approach. It is absolutely individual and changes as a student’s needs develop,” she said. “They may start in the EAP (educational adjustment program) in Grade 8, then in year 10 they may have developed the appropriate skills to go into mainstream classes.”
She said because every student progresses in a different way, their programs are constantly looked over to determine whether changes need to be made.
“It’s not necessarily a structured program that we have. As the students’ needs arise we create something around it until the student has overcome that problem,” Ms Van Zyl said.
Because of these programs, many students have successfully entered mainstream classes by overcoming obstacles in their studies.
“We have lots of students that are totally mainstreamed. I see them once or twice a year because they are doing fantastically,” she said.
However alongside catering for the needs of regular schooling, the Special Needs Services department also offer some unique opportunities.
As their students may not have the ability to make that final hurdle into mainstream classes, students are given other opportunities to obtain a Queensland Certificate of Education (QCE), so they have the possibility to study after high school.
The department offers students the opportunity to complete a Certificate II in Horticulture, a Certificate II in Social and Community Studies and a Certificate III in warehousing, alongside their regular school studies.
“A QCE is an important part of high school and all students should have the opportunity to achieve that certificate,” she said.