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					DISCUSSION PAPER            Draft3              NOT FOR GENERAL DISTRIBUTION

NORTHERN SCHOOL FOR AUTISM

A FUTURE DIRECTIONS DISCUSSION PAPER

Methodology
The discussion paper will be developed in consultation with the School Council and School
Community and Senior Regional Office Personnel. The School Council, the Senior
Management Team and the School Leadership Team will contribute to the development of
the paper as it evolves. Forums will be conducted for parents at both campuses so that the
broader community has an opportunity to be informed of and comment on the issues and
possibilities being discussed. Staff will have the opportunity to have input through
discussion at sub-school meetings. The paper will be developed within the context of the
Department’s guidelines for the Program for Students with Disabilities, the State and
Regional Autism plans, the Regional Special Education Provision Plan and the new Abilities
Index.
Information will be gathered through discussions with key stakeholders and focus groups
with parents. Visits will be made to the other schools and programs for students with autism
in metropolitan Melbourne.
Communication and consultation will occur on an ongoing basis with the School Council and
the School Leadership Team in order to shape the options and the preferred future
direction.

Policy Context
The Australian Advisory Board on Autism Spectrum Disorders (April 2010) calls for
educational services for school-aged Australian children and adolescents with an Autism
Spectrum Disorder (ASD) that are governed by the following principles;

1      Every child and adolescent with an ASD should have access to an educational service
       appropriate to his/her needs
2      All government and non-government educational sectors should provide educational
       services that cater to the needs of children and adolescents with an ASD
3      Educational services must be responsive to all children and adolescents across the
       autism spectrum
4      There should be a range of educational services for children and adolescents with an
       ASD
5      Educational services must address the students’ needs in communication, social
       skills, learning, sensory issues and behaviour and include family involvement
6      Increased provision of teacher education and training to improve the capacity of
       educational services to provide for students with an ASD
7      Educational services are based on sound evidence and quality indicators
8      Following an application for service, enrolments should proceed in a timely manner t
       o ensure students with ASD access appropriate educational services as soon as
       possible



                                                                                          1
Further the Advisory Board states that a flexible approach to service provision should
involve a continuum of special education services. This continuum should include autism-
specific special school placement, small support or satellite classes staffed by ASD-specialist
teachers in mainstream schools, ASD-specific itinerant teacher services to support students
who are included in mainstream classes and full mainstream school placement.

The Victorian Autism State Plan (2009) in reference to educational services states that one
of the priorities of the plan is to;

       Enhance and provide appropriate educational opportunities
       With the aim being that people with an ASD have the best chance to realise their
       educational potential.

Further the plan states;
       Formal education can help students achieve their goals and fulfil their potential.
       Apart from equipping students with academic skills, the educational process
       provides a social function as children and young people have an opportunity to learn
       how to mix with their peers, understand boundaries and social rules, and respect the
       knowledge and authority of teachers and others. Education prepares students for
       full participation in society as adults.

       To get the most out of their schooling, students with ASD need assistance. Teachers
       may also need assistance in the classroom or training to ensure that students with
       ASD get a high quality educational experience.

       Better preparation of teachers, use of appropriate teaching methods and greater
       support for all students with an ASD are important to ensure that this group of
       young people are able to benefit from their educational experience.
       Making schools ‘ASD friendly’ will be a good start to ensuring schools are truly
       inclusive. ‘ASD friendly’ schools are proactive in their approach to ASD students, are
       flexible with the curriculum, and employ appropriate teaching strategies. ’ASD
       friendly’ schools provide a safe place for students with an ASD where they receive
       respectful treatment. ‘ASD friendly’ schools are inclusive of parents in planning for
       the student, provide support on a needs basis and aim to ensure that the whole
       school community is more aware of the needs and strengths of the person with an
       ASD.

       The Program for Students with Disabilities (DEECD) assists students in government
       schools to maximise their educational potential. Students with ASD can be supported
       in different school settings including integration into a mainstream school,
       enrolment in a special school and enrolment in a school for students with ASD.

                                                      (Victorian State Autism Plan, 2009)




                                                                                             2
The Program for Students with Disabilities Guidelines (2011) state that the eligibility
criteria for the program for Autism Spectrum Disorder are as follows;

A      A diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder

AND

B      Significant deficits in adaptive behaviour established by a composite score of two
       standard deviations or more below the mean on an approved standardised test of
       adaptive behaviours

AND

C      Significant deficits in language skills established by a comprehensive speech
       pathology assessment demonstrating language skills equivalent to a composite score
       of two standard deviations or more below the mean.

The response to an Educational Needs Questionnaire determines the level of funding if the
student has met the eligibility criteria.

The Northern Metropolitan Regional Autism Plan (2009) has resulted in the following
initiatives in 2010;

    a) The employment of a Visiting Teacher-Autism from the commencement of 2010

    b) The continuation of the Positive Partnerships Training program for schools

    c) The commencement of a pilot project involving a cross sectoral partnership to
       establish a Foundation Room in one primary school within the region. The
       Foundation Room will provide consultation, support and training to teachers and
       education support staff and work with students throughout the school.

A brief description of the four other metropolitan schools for autism and two support
programs in mainstream schools

Western Autistic School
The Western Autistic School provides programs and services to students and their families
who largely reside in the Western Metropolitan Region of Melbourne. Currently there are
over 240 students enrolled in the school. The school currently operates across five
campuses;

Deer Park Campus and Niddrie Campus; these campuses provide a specialised short term
intensive program for Prep to Year 3 students (early primary years). Enrolment at these two
sites is for a period of 1 to 4 years. No student stays longer than 4 years and no student will
remain at the school beyond the equivalent of completing grade 3 in a regular primary
school. Parents are made aware on enrolment that it is a short term intensive program.
Students transition from the program to mainstream schools, special developmental schools

                                                                                             3
and special schools. The school also provides significant outreach services to support
students, families and schools during transition. There are over a hundred students at each
campus. The class size at these two campuses varies from six to eight students based on the
needs of students. The usual staffing allocation to each class is two teachers and one ESS.
The Deer Park Campus will re-locate to a new purpose built school at Laverton in the near
future.
Primary Base Rooms; the school also operates 2 base rooms at Milleara Primary School
catering for students as described above.

Secondary Base Room; the school operates a secondary base room at Essendon Keilor
College for students of secondary school age who meet the following criteria;

   a) Deemed eligible under ASD criteria for the DEECD program for students with
      disabilities

   b) Living within the WMR of DEECD and designated transport zone of Western Autistic
      School

   c) Capable of operating safely and independently in the environs of the Secondary
      College

   d) Capable of participating appropriately in nominated mainstream classes at an age
      appropriate level

   e) Any student considered for this placement must be considered ineligible for
      attending a special or specialist school-that is have no intellectual disability


Wattle Program
This program provides an educational program for students who have a diagnosis of ASD-
Asperger Syndrome and who have co-existing mental health issues. This program now
caters for an upper primary age group and an adolescent group. It operates from the Deer
Park Campus and will move to purpose built facilities at the Laverton Campus in the near
future.

Autism Teaching Institute
In 2006 the school opened the Autism Teaching Institute to deliver nationally accredited
courses in teaching students with ASD at the Vocational Graduate level.
The Western Autistic School is a large and complex organisation which will continue to
operate across five locations under one School Council and Principal. The principal is
supported by five Assistant Principals and a large number of Leading Teachers. The longest
travel time between any two of the locations is estimated to be thirty minutes.
The core belief of the school is that it provides intensive short term programs with outreach
services which support the transition of students to other appropriate educational settings
upon the completion of the four year program. It has established a number of specialist
programs to cater for small groups of students whose needs cannot be met adequately by


                                                                                           4
existing programs and services. It is also committed to improving the training of teachers of
students with ASD throughout Victoria through the Autism Teaching Institute.

Bulleen Heights School
Bulleen Heights School is one of two specialist schools for children and young people with
ASD in the Eastern Metropolitan Region; the other is Wantirna Heights School. All the
students attending Bulleen Heights School are eligible for the Program for Students with
Disabilities under the Autism Spectrum Disorder category. A number of students are also
assessed as being in the mild or moderate range of intellectual disability. There are currently
over 200 students enrolled at the school from the age of five to eighteen. The main campus
is in Pleasant Road, with a second campus starting from the commencement of 2010 in
Manningham Road at the former Manningham Primary School. There are currently around
sixty students aged from eight to thirteen at the Manningham Campus. Prior to taking over
this site the specialist school had three Inclusive Learning Classrooms at the Manningham
Primary School. It has not been determined as yet how the two campuses will be utilised to
cater for students from 5 to eighteen years of age in the longer term.

The school also operates an Inclusive Learning Classroom for ten early primary age students
at Bellevue Primary School. This is staffed by two teachers and one ESS from the specialist
school. Students are selected for this setting based on having a sense of personal safety and
acceptance of boundaries, being toilet trained and a readiness for learning in an inclusive
environment causing minimal disruption to others learning. There is also an Inclusive
Learning Program at Templestowe Valley Primary School with up to ten students attending
inclusive programs with their teachers from the specialist school on a sessional basis.
Students are often introduced to their first experience of primary school through this
program.

The travel time to any of the above settings from the home school is no longer than ten
minutes.

There is a significant shift in enrolments as students move in and out of the school and a
number of students are enrolled part time in their local school and part time at Bulleen
(Dual Enrolments).The school has experienced a net gain each year of fourteen students.
The school is organised around four Departments, broadly corresponding to the following
age groups; lower primary, upper primary, lower secondary and upper secondary.

The Principal is assisted by two Assistant Principals and a number of Leading Teachers.
There is also a multi –disciplinary team comprised of psychologist, speech pathologists,
occupational therapists and ABA Therapists. Also there are specialist teachers for Art, Music,
Interactive Communication Technology (ICT), Vocational Education and Physical Education.
The recruitment of teaching staff continues to be challenging. A number of staff are
employed without qualifications in special education. As a result there is significant effort
put into the induction and on-going professional learning for staff. Education support staff
are an integral part of the BHS team, employed full time to support teachers and have
access to the same professional learning opportunities as teaching staff.




                                                                                             5
Students are grouped according to being of a similar age and with similar abilities and
needs. The smallest group is four students (high needs) and the largest group may be ten or
twelve with the average class size being 6.5 students. Most classes are staffed with one
teacher and one ESS. There are three distinct play areas to be shared between the four
departments.

The school has responded to the challenge of curriculum provision in the later years by
offering Certificate 1 in Transition Education. This program is nationally accredited and
provides a pathway to TAFE (Work Education Certificate).The school also operates a Pre
Certificate 1 group as a way of assessing students capacity to undertake the program and to
prepare them for it. The school works in partnership with the Northern Melbourne College
of TAFE and a Number of staff were required to complete Certificate 4 in Workplace
Training.

Students not deemed capable of undertaking the Certificate 1 in Transition Education
continue their program with an emphasis on vocational education, leisure and recreation,
and independent living skills. The school has established partnerships with Templestowe
College and Doncaster Secondary College to involve students in community based programs.
The principal expressed the view that it has been difficult to establish any Inclusive Learning
Classrooms or programs in secondary schools but remains convinced that this model, with
careful implementation and a culture of equity, where all students have the opportunity to
achieve exemplary learning outcomes can be achieved.

Southern Autistic School
The Southern Autistic School in East Bentleigh is the only autism specific specialist school in
the Southern Metropolitan Region (SMR). However the principal of this school stated that
all the ‘special schools’ in the SMR cater for students with autism.

Eligibility for the school is determined by approval for funding under the Program for
Students with Disabilities- Autism Spectrum Disorder category. Most students are also
assessed as having a mild, moderate or severe intellectual disability.

The school commenced operation as a Day Training Centre in the early 1970s through the
efforts of parents. It was transferred to the Ministry of Education in 1986. The school has
relocated from Mentone to a purpose built facility in Bentleigh East. It is in the Southern
Metropolitan Region of the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development
(DEECD). Approximately one hundred and fifty children, aged from three years, attend the
school. School age students travel to and from the school on buses with supervisors funded
through the DEECD.

When the school transferred to the Ministry of Education in 1986 it was agreed that the
school could maintain its early intervention program. It continues to provide an Early
Education Program (EEP) with twenty seven students, aged 2.8 to 4.7 years, attending three
days per week from 9am to 3pm.

The school age students are organised around the following three units; early primary,
middle and upper primary and early secondary. The age range of students currently on site

                                                                                             6
is from three to 15 years of age. The school currently has twenty students of secondary
school age.

Classes are largely grouped around age with a mixture of students with diverse skills and
abilities. Generally there are six students in a class with one teacher and one ESS in each
room. However, with a bigger room now available there is one group of nine girls with two
teachers and one ESS.
There are specialist teachers for the areas of Music, Swimming, Physical Education,
Art/Craft, E-Learning/Library. The school also employs Speech Pathologists, Psychologists
and Occupational Therapists.

A number of students are in a ‘transition program’ and have a dual enrolment in a primary
school and the specialist school. This program aims to support the student to transition to
full time attendance at the primary school.

Until recently the school provided for early education and primary school age students.
Increasing numbers of students eligible for placement means that that the school needs to
provide for more students at these two levels as well as developing programs for secondary
age students should parents choose to have their children continue at the SAS. Given that
the current enrolment is 151 and that its capacity is around this number the school faces
significant challenges in accommodating any additional students. The school does not
currently operate any programs from other sites or settings.

The Principal is supported by two Assistant Principals and four Leading Teachers. There are
around 41 teaching staff and 36 ESS staff at the school.

As the recruitment of teachers poses a constant challenge significant time is devoted to
induction and on-going professional learning for staff.

The principal views the provision of appropriate programs for students in the later years as
an exciting challenge. At this point in time the proposal is that the school will need to form
partnerships with other specialist schools, local secondary colleges and TAFE to provide
access to suitable programs given the broad and diverse skills and abilities of the students.

Wantirna Heights School
Wantirna Heights School is located in Wantirna within the Eastern Metropolitan Region. It is
one of two schools for students with autism within the region.

The school evolved out of the Irabina Special Developmental School and moved to its
current site in the early 1990s as the site became available as a result of the primary school
merging with another primary school on a different site. It became a school for students of
primary school age with ASD and has remained such until the present time. An early
intervention program continues to operate at the former Irabina site as a separate entity.

All the students attending the school have a diagnosis of ASD and are eligible for funding
under the Program for Students with Disabilities. In addition to this all students are required


                                                                                             7
to be in the mild or moderate range of intellectual functioning, that is have an I.Q. of 70 or
below.

On the Wantirna site there is a ceiling on enrolments of 88 students due to the capacity of
the facilities. The school also operates three satellite classrooms ( a lower, a middle and an
upper primary group) at three neighbouring primary schools. Currently the school is catering
for just over one hundred students with significant numbers on a waiting list.
Following extensive consultation with the school community and with the agreement of the
DEECD both centrally and regionally it has been decided to gradually extend the age range
the school caters for to become a P-12 school on the former Ferntree Gully College site.
Planning is currently underway for this to occur in stages with the first students being on
site in 2013. The school will increase the year level of students one year at a time eventually
providing for students up to the age of eighteen in 2017. The capacity of this new facility will
be 180 students.

The Principal is supported by two Assistant Principals and two Leading Teachers. The current
school is organised around a lower primary department and an upper primary department
each managed by a Leading Teacher. In arranging classes each student’s particular needs
and abilities are taken into consideration. Most classes are six students with one teacher
and one ESS assigned to them. There have been occasions when there have been classes of
4 or 8 students with one teacher and one ESS.

The school also employs two Speech Therapists, an Occupational Therapist, a Music
Therapist and a part-time Psychologist. The school has specialist teachers for Art, Health and
Physical Education and ICT.

As a result of the ceiling on enrolments staff recruitment has not presented problems as
there is minimal staff turnover. Most teachers have qualifications in special education and
significant in-house professional learning is conducted around autism. The school is forming
partnerships with Monash University and the University of Tasmania to expand options for
staff training into the future.

The principal is of the view that the additional criteria for students with ASD to have a mild
or moderate level of cognitive ability to be enrolled has meant that the school has a clear
and achievable program focus.

ASD Support Room (Sunbury Secondary College)
At the beginning of 2008 an ASD Support Room was set up at Sunbury Secondary College
and is now in its third year of operation. The reason the program was established was that
the school had a number of students with ASD enrolled at this time who were struggling to
cope within the educational environment. A group of parents of students with ASD were
also keen for such a program to be established to support students within their local
community.

Following discussions with personnel from the Regional Office, a proposal was developed
and put to the Manager of the Student Well-Being Branch for consideration. The Student
Well-Being Branch committed funding to a three year pilot program of $100,000 per year.

                                                                                              8
These funds do not fully fund the staffing of the Support Room and the shortfall is around
$18,000 which is covered by the school. This is the final year of that commitment and no
further commitment has been made to the program at this time.

The college set aside a classroom to become the ASD Support Room. It is staffed by a full-
time teacher trained in working with students with ASD and a .5 ESS officer. These staff
provide support to students in the support room and in classes, as well as providing advice
and support to the integration aides and teachers. The main emphasis of the program is
‘inclusiveness’ and therefore the aim of the program is that students spend as much time as
appropriate in regular classes. The students have access to the room at recess and
lunchtimes and at times when they need time-out or additional support with their work. The
students also receive some support from integration aides within the regular classes. Funds
for these staff come from the Program for Students with Disabilities. At present the amount
of time spent in regular classes ranges from 100% to 40%.

In 2008 and 2009 eleven students accessed the program, in 2010 ten students are accessing
the program. Six students have exited the program in the past twelve months to enrol in
specialist settings. All the students currently accessing the program are considered to be in
the normal range of cognitive ability. There is a notional ceiling of twelve students who can
be catered for in the program.

In 2010 there are four students in Year 7, three students in Year 8, and one in Year 9, 10 and
11. If there is little movement of students in the near future the capacity of the program to
provide support is limited.

It is generally accepted that the criteria for inclusion in the program is that the students are
on the Program for Students with Disabilities under the category of ASD.

The principal is of the view that if no further additional funds are provided the capacity of
the funds provided for eligible students under the Program for Students with Disabilities to
support the Support Room and the required support in classrooms in insufficient and
therefore the future of the program is uncertain.

Foundation Room (Moomba Park Primary School)
The program is one aspect of the I.D.E.A. Program (Innovative Developments in the
Education of children with Autism).

In 2009 Moomba Park Primary School had eight students at the school with a diagnosis of
ASD and experienced difficulties in catering for one of these students in particular. The
school enlisted the support of Autism Partnership Victoria, an organisation with expertise in
the education of students with ASD. They introduced the ABA approach (Applied
Behavioural Analysis) into the school’s program and the school staff was impressed with the
results.

In order to extend the program a partnership was formed between the school, Autism
Partnership Victoria and CISCA (Centre for Inclusion of School Children with Autism) and
supported by the regional office of DEECD.

                                                                                              9
In 2010 a separate room was set up as a home room for the program. It is called the
‘Foundation Room’ and a full time teacher trained in teaching students with ASD operates
from this room. The emphasis of the program is on inclusiveness for the students with ASD
into regular classes and ensuring that students are successful on each step as they progress
towards the end goal. In 2010 there are eighteen students across P-6 supported by the
program. Thirteen of the students are funded under the Program for Students with
Disabilities under the category of ASD and five of the students do not qualify for funding.
The students receive support in classrooms from Behavioural Therapists who are trained in
the principles of ABA and who receive guidance from the Autism Partnership Consultant and
the specially trained teacher from the Foundation Room. The Consultant spends two days
per week in the school. The Behavioural Therapists are recruited and receive initial training
from a partnership between Autism Partnership Victoria and CISCA. Students may spend
some time in the Foundation Room for small group work or one-on-one support or as ‘time-
out’. Currently there are three young students who are virtually full time in the Foundation
Room and receive significant one to one support. They will be introduced into regular
classes gradually as they are considered ready with the emphasis on successful inclusion.

The school community is very supportive of the program and the school has allocated
significant resources to the program. The school has submitted a proposal to the region for
this ASD Inclusion Support Program and is hopeful of receiving funding support for 2011-
2013. The Regional Autism Plan makes particular reference to the establishment of four
Foundation Rooms by 2014.

Northern School for Autism

School Context
The Northern School for Autism is a State Government specialist school that addresses the
educational needs of students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The school was established
in 2006 to meet the growing needs of students with ASD in the Northern Metropolitan
Region.
Prior to 2006 students with ASD in the region whose parents elected to access a special
school for ASD sought enrolment at the Western Autistic School or the Bulleen Heights
Special School. The Western Autistic School operated a campus at Jacana Primary School in
Broadmeadows. The Western Autistic School had a policy that after a four year intensive
program students would exit to other educational placements; mainstream schools; special
developmental schools and special schools. The Bulleen Heights Special School which had
evolved into a special provider for students with ASD catered for students to the age of
eighteen.
Due to the increase in demand for enrolments of students from their respective regional
geographic areas both the above providers expressed the view that it was time for the
Northern Region to provide appropriate services for their own students with ASD. Early
intervention services and parent groups also shared this view.
Prior to 2006 the current Preston Campus was operating as Preston Special Developmental
School providing programs for students with a moderate intellectual disability. A significant
number of their students were also diagnosed with an ASD. The enrolments had declined
over time to less than 20.The School Council was open to pursuing a different direction to

                                                                                          10
cater for students with ASD. Following consultation with the school communities,
discussions with regional and head office personnel a proposal was developed
recommending that Preston SDS become the Northern School for Autism with the Jacana
Campus of the Western Autistic School transferring to be a campus of this new entity. The
proposal was approved by the Minister for Education at the time and the new school
commenced operation at the start of 2006.
The school is a rapidly growing school with student enrolments increasing from 85 in 2006
to the current enrolment of 235 students from 5 to 16 years of age. From 2013 the school
will cater for students from 5 to 18 years of age as do most specialist schools.
Student Profile


The enrolment levels have increased as follows;

          Whole School       Preston Campus       Jacana Campus New Enrolments Exits
2006        84.4                 37.6               47.4                   6
2007        133.8                61                 72.8                   17
2008        173.6                77.6               96                     19
2009        212.6                94.2               118.4                  26
2010        229.1                96.9               132.2                  14

Based on current trends the projected enrolments are;

        Whole School         Preston Campus       Jacana Campus

2011          255                 100               155
2012          297                 130               167
2013          329                 151               178 *
2014          367                 174 *             193 *
2015          394                 190 *             204 *
2016          412                 206 *             206 *
2017          446                 223 *             223 *
2018          451                 224 *             227 *
2019          464                 229 *             235 *

                      Over capacity *

With a ceiling on enrolments at each campus (Jacana and Reservoir) of 160 Jacana will reach
this in 2012 and Preston/Reservoir will reach this in 2014. Post 2017 net enrolments would
begin to stabilise as more students would be exiting as they turn 18 years of age. Hence
from 2014 catering for the projected student numbers within the two campuses will be
problematic.




                                                                                        11
Students attending the Preston Campus come from the following suburbs;

Ivanhoe, Brunswick, Eltham, Fairfield, Merlynston, Pylong, Richmond, South Morang,
Thornbury, Viewbank, Heidelberg, Reservoir, Preston, Collingwood, Macleod, Brunswick
Bundoora, Lalor, Mill Park, Northcote, Watsonia, Fawkner, Thomastown, West Heidelberg
Coburg, Greensborough, Epping

The students attending the Jacana Campus come from the following suburbs;

Attwood, Brunswick East, Doreen, Essendon, Gisborne, Gowanbrae, Hillside, Kilmore, New
Gisborne, Oaklands Junction, Pascoe Vale, Roxburgh Park, Glenroy, Sunbury, Bulla, Wallan
Campbellfield, Craigieburn, Greenvale, Hadfield, Oak Park, Tullamarine, Meadow Heights
Westmeadows, Broadmeadows, Gladstone Park


The age profile of students as at the 1-1-2010 is;

                  Whole School     Preston Campus    Jacana Campus
4 years of age     4                 1                 3
5 years of age     27.6               8.6              19
6 years of age     43.4               15.4             28
7 years of age     38.5               23.8             14.7
8 years of age     32.9               18.6             14.6
9 years of age     25.4               11.9             13.5
10 years of age    16.9               6.9              10
11 years of age    13                 2                11
12 years of age    11.4               4                7.4
13 years of age     5                 2                3
14 years of age     6                 2                4
15 years of age     5                 1                4
16 years of age     0                  0                0
17 years of age     0                  0                0
18 years of age     0                  0                0

All students enrolled at the school are required to meet the eligibility criteria for Autism
Spectrum Disorder under the Program for Students with Disabilities. Further a number of
students have a mild intellectual impairment which would make them eligible to attend a
Special School. Also a number of students have a moderate intellectual impairment which
would make them eligible to attend a Special Developmental School. There are a number of
students who have attended mainstream schools and who are in the average range of
intellectual ability but due to complex behavioural/emotional attributes have not been able
to be maintained in the regular settings. The school does have an integration program which
provides a number of students with experience in mainstream schools and for some this
results in a transfer to a mainstream school.The age range and ability profile of students
presents a significant challenge in the provision of appropriate educational programs when
compared to the challenges faced by many other specialist schools.


                                                                                         12
Facilities
The school has two campuses, one located in Preston and one in Broadmeadows. The main
administrative functions are managed at the Preston Campus.

The buildings at the Preston Campus are all re-locatable buildings which have been added
to the site as enrolments have grown over the past few years. The current configuration of
buildings is poor and the standard of many of them is inadequate. There is insufficient space
and poor design for the bus pick-up and drop-off of students. The playground space and
suitable play equipment is also less than desirable given the age range and diversity of
students. The Department has allocated $10 million in the 2010-2011 budget for the re-
location of the Preston Campus to new purpose built facilities in Reservoir.

The buildings at the Jacana Campus mainly consist of re-locatable buildings. There is a
refurbishment currently underway in the remaining wing of the former Jacana Primary
School. This will improve the facilities to some degree. The configuration of buildings and
the design is not as appropriate as it could be. There is more adequate space for the bus
drop off and pick-up of student than at the present Preston Campus. There is a lack of
appropriate play areas and equipment for the number and diversity of students.

The Department’s current policy is to provide teaching spaces on a basis of a one to eight
student ratio. This allows for very little flexibility in how classes are organised and does not
recognise the complex needs of some students.

Funding
The school is currently funded under the Program for Students with Disabilities on the basis
of an allocation per student based on the stages of schooling model of funding (2011).

Stage of schooling age 4-6     $35,707
Stage of schooling age 7-8     $33,691
Stage of schooling age 9-11    $30,885
Stage of schooling age 12+     $29,553

 When Jacana Campus was transferred to the Northern School for Autism the Department
agreed to fund the current students attending the Jacana Campus at Level 6 while they
continued to be enrolled at the school. In 2010 there are 22 students attending the Jacana
Campus covered by this arrangement. The difference in funding from Level 6 to the stages
of schooling model is approximately $12,500 per student, contributing around $250,000 to
the Student Resource Package in 2010.The resource gains from this arrangement are
diminishing over time as students become older and follow different pathways.

Resources
The significant rapid growth in enrolments with a wide range of needs has made it difficult
to keep up with the adequate provision of resources for use in classrooms and to exploit the
potential of computer assisted learning for some students. Both Campuses are relatively
resource poor in both technology and classroom materials.




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Staffing
A number of teaching staff have either a post graduate degree, extensive experience in
Special Education or specific training in ASD. Due to the school’s rapid enrolment growth
however, the recruitment and training of staff able to provide programs and support for
students with autism has been and continues to be a significant challenge.
A majority of staff are employed under the Education Support Service (ESS) category and
work alongside teachers in classrooms. Class sizes range from six to eight with the majority
of classes staffed with one teacher and two ESS staff.

Significant challenges
It presents a significant challenge to provide the breadth and depth of curriculum programs
to meet the needs of such a diverse range of students both in terms of age and ability
profile.

The recruitment and retention of appropriate teaching staff and ESS staff continues to
present a challenge given the rapid growth in enrolments and the diversity of student
needs.

Future Directions
The goal should be to provide the appropriate services and programs to enable each
individual to achieve the optimal outcomes given their ability profile. Given accurate
diagnosis, high quality early intervention programs, early years and middle years programs a
number of students will transition into mainstream schools with appropriate support. A
number of students with special needs may achieve better outcomes within specialist
settings. Parents will continue to choose the educational setting or program they consider
will best meet the needs of their child given they meet the enrolment criteria.

A range of options
A) One Dual Campus School P-12 (status quo)
B) Two Stand Alone Schools (P-12)
C) One Dual Campus School (P-9)
D) Two Stand Alone Schools (P-9) with student pathways to mainstream schools, specialist
    schools, a support facility within a mainstream senior college
E) Evolve into a Multi-Campus School (Two P-9 Schools and a Senior Campus)
F) Two Stand Alone Schools (P-9) and a new Stand Alone Senior School (10-12)
G) Two Stand Alone Schools (P-6) and a new Stand Alone School Secondary School (7-12)

OPTION A
One Dual Campus School (status quo)
Description
The school would continue to operate as the Northern School for Autism across two
Campuses, Jacana and Preston/Reservoir with one School Council. The both campuses
would provide programs for students from 5 to 18 years of age by 2013.The administration
and leadership of the school would continue as it is currently. Each campus in time is likely
to have a ceiling of 160 students and it is projected that the Jacana Campus would reach this
by 2012 and the Preston Campus by 2017.In time the total school enrolment could reach


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320 students making it one of the largest specialist schools in the state and the largest
autism specific school in the state.

It could also be possible to continue to operate as one school across two campuses but
allow more autonomy for each campus to develop its own culture and mode of operation
within broad guidelines. Further it could operate with the only overall shared level of
leadership being the principal class

Advantages
    Continuity of service provision
    A single specialist provider for students with ASD in the region enabling a large
      centre of excellence to evolve(Members of the Leadership Team were equally divided
      over whether this was an advantage in reality)
    The recruitment and development of a large pool of expertise which can be shared
      across the campuses
    The ability to share specialist staff across campuses
    Staff can be moved across campuses to achieve a balanced workforce
    The additional funds available in the SRP as a result of some students attending the
      Jacana Campus funded at Level 6 is used equitably across the school
    Sharing of pedagogical and curriculum knowledge across campuses(Members of the
      Leadership Team were divided over whether this was an advantage in reality)
    No additional funding required

Challenges
    Establishing agreed teaching and learning approaches and curriculum design due to
       the distance between campuses
    The appropriate management and leadership of a very large dual campus specialist
       school which could grow to 320 students, given the distance between the two
       campuses and the travelling time involved
    The development of a whole of school culture and sense of team
    The development of timely and effective communication systems
    Ensuring decisions, policies and procedures are being implemented consistently
       across both campuses
    The provision of curriculum programs to meet the diversity of student needs given
       the age range and ability profile of students
    For the School Council to know and represent two school communities
    To develop transparent processes to demonstrate that resources are being deployed
       in a fair and equitable way across the two campuses given the different enrolment at
       each campus
    The capacity of the Principal to be on site to support staff, invest in relationships and
       understand the needs of the community

NOTE; It was considered whether other options could be the current campuses becoming a
provider either of primary programs or secondary programs as part of a dual campus school
or as two independent schools. However the travel distances for students and time involved
would make this not feasible.


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OPTION B
Two Stand Alone Schools (P-12)
Description
The two current campuses of the Northern School for Autism would become two separate
P-12 schools with their own principals, school councils, Student Resource Package, and
designated transport areas.

Advantages
    Each school would have its administration and leadership team on site
    Each school could develop its own culture and sense of team
    Staff would identify with a school at which they worked
    Communication within each school would be easier
    Planning and problem solving would be site specific
    Each school council could more adequately represent their own school community
    It may be easier to develop school wide pedagogy and programs
    As two schools there may be greater opportunity and time to explore relationships
      and partnerships with schools and other educational providers, with a focus on early
      intervention and later years, in the relevant network (Hume and Darebin). This could
      include the establishment of some outpost base rooms at both nearby primary and
      secondary schools
    Further each school could explore dual campus options within the local geographical
      area to cater more effectively for different stages of schooling(significant costs
      involved)
    Small amount of additional funding required to fund another principal position
      (approximately $150,000 per year)
    The Principal being on site to support the community and invest in relationships

Challenges
    The provision of curriculum programs to meet the diversity of student needs given
       the age range and ability profile of students(Members of the Leadership Team were
       generally agreed that this was not such a challenge on a single site school)
    One school may be disadvantaged in the short term in its SRP due to current funding
       arrangements for the original students of Jacana unless an agreement is reached to
       have this distributed equally across both schools
    The risk of competition between the two schools in the recruitment of staff
    The review and redesign of the designated transport areas in consultation with
       School Transport Unit and its potential to disrupt some current arrangements

OPTION C
One Dual Campus School (P- 9)
Description

The school would continue to operate as one school across two campuses with one principal
and one School Council. It would provide programs from Prep to Year 9 with students
transitioning at the end of Year 9 or prior to other educational programs which would best
meet their needs in the later years of schooling. This could mean transfer to other specialist
or mainstream schools or TAFE programs.

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Advantages
    A single specialist provider for students(P-9) with ASD in the region enabling a large
      centre of excellence to evolve
    The recruitment and development of a large pool of expertise which can be shared
      across campuses
    The ability to share staff across campuses
    Sharing of pedagogical and curriculum knowledge across campuses
    The age range of students on each campus would be narrowed, allowing for a clearer
      focus on meeting student needs in the early and middle years stages of schooling
    The creation of a transition point at the end of Year 9 whereby students would move
      to the setting which could best meet their educational needs in the later years of
      schooling(Members of the Leadership Team were divided over whether this was an
      advantage)
    No additional funding required


Challenges
   Establishing agreed teaching and learning approaches and curriculum design due to
      the distance between campuses
   The appropriate management and leadership of a large dual campus specialist
      school, given the distance between the two campuses and the travelling time
      involved
   The development of a whole school culture and sense of team
   The development of timely and effective communication systems
   Ensuring decisions, policies and procedures are being implemented consistently
      across both campuses
   For the School Council to know and represent two school communities
   Parental concern at losing access to a P-12 option
   Managing the transition process for students at the end of Year 9
   Supporting and preparing students for transition
   Loss of provision for Year 10/11/12 students and lack of appropriate placements for
      senior students

OPTION D
Two stand alone Schools (P-9) with pathways to mainstream schools, specialist schools, a
support facility within a mainstream senior college or secondary college
Description
The two existing campuses would become separate schools catering for students from Prep
to Year 9. Each would have its own principal and school council. A new support facility for
students with ASD would be established within a mainstream senior college or secondary
college. At the end of year 9 students would transition to the most appropriate setting to
meet their particular educational needs; mainstream schools, specialist schools, support
facility. It is likely that students who have the potential for inclusion in mainstream schools
would have transitioned prior to the end of year 9.

                                                                                            17
Advantages
    The two current campuses as stand alone P-9 schools would have a clearer focus
      with their own school council and principal
    Communication and decision making processes would be easier
    The development of a whole school culture and sense of team would be easier
    The age range of students on any one site would be reduced
    At the end of year 9 all students would transition to the program which could cater
      for their particular needs(Members of the Leadership Team had very different views
      on whether this was a real advantage)
    Minimal additional funding in regard to the two schools for another principal
      position

Challenges
    Parental concern at losing access to a P-12 option
    Managing the transition processes for students at the end of year 9
    Finding a suitable host school for the ASD support facility
    Professional learning of staff in the host school
    Gaining head office support and funding for the ASD support facility
    Significant additional funds required to establish a support facility in a secondary
       college
    Transition at Year 9 is very late and present significant adjustment and placement
       problems

OPTION E
Evolve into a Multi Campus School (Two P-9 Schools and a new Senior Campus)
Description
The school would continue to operate as one school with one principal and a single school
council. The current campuses would become P-9 campuses and a new senior campus (10-
12) would be established at a separate location ideally within or adjoining a regular senior
campus or 7-12 college.

Advantages
    A single provider of specialist school programs for students with ASD in the region
      allowing for a centre of excellence to be developed
    The ability to share specialist staff across three campuses
    The ability to move staff between the three campuses to maintain a balanced
      workforce
    The recruitment and induction of staff from by a single provider avoiding
      unnecessary competition for staff
    A reduction in the age range of students attending any one campus
    The creation of a transition point at the end of year nine whereby students would
      move to the setting which could best meet their educational needs
    Allow one campus to focus on the development of later years programs


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      The ability to meet the needs of students more appropriately with more streamlined
       age groups
      Good to have senior students separate from younger age students

Challenges

      The creation of a more complex structure than exists currently(Members of the
       Leadership Team were generally agreed that a two and three campus school had a
       similar complexity)
      The development of a whole school culture and sense of team across three
       campuses
      The development of effective communication and decision making systems across
       three campuses
      Managing parent expectations in terms of what a P-12 school is
      The task for the school council would be more complex and demanding in meeting
       the needs of three separate campuses
      The securing of an appropriate central location for the senior campus
      Gaining head office approval and funding for the development of a third campus
      Significant additional funding required to provide a third site and new facilities

OPTION F
Two Stand Alone Schools (P-9) and a new Stand Alone Senior School
Description
The two current campuses would become separate schools with their own principals and
school councils catering for students from Prep to Year 9.Further a new Senior School (10-
12) would be established with its own principal and school council, ideally adjoining a
regular Senior School College or a Secondary College

Advantages
    The establishment of three separate schools would allow for simpler and discrete
      leadership and administrative functions
    Each principal and school council could focus on a single site and school community
    The development of a sense of school community and team may be easier
    The age range of students on any one campus would be narrowed, allowing for a
      clearer focus on meeting student needs
    Each campus may have more time to build positive relationships with schools and
      other educational providers in their network (Hume and Darebin) leading to
      expanded opportunities for students

Challenges
    The disruption and dislocation caused by separating into three autonomous
       schools(Members of the Leadership Team were divided over whether this was such a
       challenge)
    The potential for significant competition for the recruitment of staff between the
       three schools
    Added complexities in terms of the provision of school transport(Members of the
       Leadership Team were divided about whether this was a challenge)

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      The loss of the current seamless transition P-12(Members of the Leadership Team
       did not consider this a major challenge)
      Gaining head office approval and funding for a third school
      Securing an appropriate central location for the senior school
      Significant additional funding required to provide a third site with facilities and to
       two new principal positions
      Creating a Senior School which has to cater for the whole of the Northern Region
      The capacity to develop expertise and experienced staff over three separate sites

OPTION G
Two Stand Alone Schools (P-6) and a new Stand Alone Secondary School
Description
A new stand alone Secondary School (7-12) would be established at a new location ideally
adjoining a regular Secondary College. It would have its own principal and school council.
The current campuses would become separate schools catering for students of primary
school age each with their own principal and school council.

Advantages
    Each school would have a clearer brief in terms of the age range and educational
      programs it was required to provide
    It may be advantageous for student’s development and well-being to be in a school
      environment that is catering for either primary age or secondary age students
    Each school council and leadership team would have a single school focus
    Staff could be recruited for their particular skills and interest in either primary age or
      secondary age students
    A transition point is introduced at the end of year 6 when students can move to a
      program which will best meet their changing needs; mainstream school or a range of
      specialist school programs

Challenges
    The disruption for families, students and staff caused by such a change(Members of
       the Leadership Team were divided over whether this was such a challenge)
    The potential lack of continuity between the primary and secondary years of
       schooling(Members of the Leadership Team were divided over whether this was such
       a challenge)
    The potential for competition in the recruitment of staff between the three schools
    Gaining head office approval and funding for the establishment of a secondary
       school
    Securing an appropriate central location for the secondary school
    Significant additional funding required to provide a third site with facilities and two
       new principal positions
    The ability to develop staff expertise and recruit experienced staff over three sites




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