Uni has a special plan

Bendigo Weekly | Bendigo Weekly | 20-May-2016

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In an Australian first La Trobe University has partnered with Bendigo based specialist school Kalianna to establish a research centre and teaching school focused on the educative needs of children with disabilities.

La Trobe vice-chancellor John Dewar and Kalianna principal Peter Bush met on Wednesday at Kalianna School Bendigo, to sign a Memorandum of Understanding cementing their commitment to the plan. 

The Kalianna–La Trobe University Community Research Alliance, based in Bendigo, will bring together experts including psychologists, speech pathologists, dentists, occupational therapists and social workers – to develop new models of learning for students with special needs, and equip current and future educators with the skills they need to apply them
successfully.

The teaching school will be open to both undergraduate and postgraduate La Trobe students, giving them unique skills to lead careers in the specialist education field.

Professor Pamela Snow, head of the La Trobe Rural Health School said providing targeted approaches for children with disabilities is vital in ensuring they can engage with school curriculum and achieve to their maximum
potential.

“All students with disabilities have complex learning needs, but unfortunately many educators – whether they be in mainstream or specialist schools – often feel under-prepared when it comes to engaging with them in the academic environment,” she said.

Professor Dewar said the establishment of the centre reaffirms La Trobe University’s commitment to innovation and creating meaningful social change.

“This centre has the potential to bring strong research and innovation to the forefront of the way we educate students with additional needs – not just locally, but in schools right across Australia,” he said.

“A centre of this kind, specialising in this very important area of education, is a first for this country.” 

Kalianna School principal Peter Bush said the MoU comes at an exciting time for the school.

“We are about to embark on a redevelopment of our school, and a physical space for this alliance is firmly part of the plan,” he said.

“Pooling both organisations’ resources to tackle this very important issue is an exciting prospect – I can’t wait see the benefits emerge, and importantly the findings will be transferable to any school setting with special needs students,” Mr Bush said.

The research centre and teaching school will focus on the needs of students demonstrating a wide range of complex learning difficulties including those suffering from trauma or neglect, intellectual impairment, brain injury and from conditions affecting movement and motor skills.

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