{May 20, 2008}   All things blue and printy

So… as mentioned the other day I went to the forum on the blueprint and it was, surprisingly, good!  The forum that is.  In all seriousness though, the blueprint – mark2 has what could be the right idea.  It bangs on about early intervention, community hubs and professional development for all involved.  There was quite a lot of discussion around early intervention, pre- service training, improved communication between kindergartens and schools, the impact of integrated venues and how, especially at the moment, it is culturally exclusive.

Early Intervention
The catch cry of all us spec ed people.  There is just not enough of it.  Not only that, when your child is diagnosed it would seem that you get put on the waiting list.  Is it still early intervention if your child is school age when they get there?  However, upon mentioning this I was asked if we had a solution for the problem.  What?!  You want teachers to stop bitching and recommend something?  I told them I don’t get paid the big bucks for that.  Joking.  Our suggestion (having been cluey enough to discuss these things before hand) was two fold:  in the ideal world, early intervention centres spring up near special schools as feeder kindergartens.  Staffed with enough staff to help those in need when they need it.  *Ahem*  I got the look that said “never in this life time, try another suggestion”.   So the next best thing we could suggest is that each kindergarten has a teacher that is special ed trained (stay tuned for the discussion do you need to be specially trained to work in special education).  It’s not that far a stretch.  We also suggested that in the Professional Development (PD) sessions that are to be run as part of the implementation process (really… you want to read it? Just take the jargon) prep teachers and spec educators* PD kindergarten teachers and vice versa.

Pre Service Training
Also known out there in the business as student teachers.  One student (kinder) teacher was observed by a member at our table to be doing what can only be described as a woeful job.  There are many different ways in which we can improve pre service teacher education, and please – leave a comment and let us count the ways!  It would seem, however, much in the same way the government would save money through early intervention rather than ‘catch up’ education, they could save just as much by providing quality teacher training.  Personally, I think that the way to go is an apprenticeship.  4 years worth of learning on the job – uni on the holidays and actually dealing with students.  I believe that they should be asking teachers the best way to revamp university.  Especially those who haven’t been at it for long.  They can view the gap in their learning and what would have been more helpful in their course.

Improved Communication
So often, the teacher is the holder of the knowledge.  They know all about their students and don’t always pass the information on – and there can be a number of reasons for this.  It can also mean that ground covered in the support of parents can be lost in the transition to school.  The suggestion is that there be regular network meetings, in which local schools and kindergartens get together to have discussions, swap ideas and offer support.  Also, in terms of early intervention, sharing the knowledge of support systems can be essential.  Wading through the information and paper work can be demanding and the more you know the system the easier and more effective you can be in jumping through the hoops.

Integrated Venues
Simply summed up here:  you don’t have to share a venue to be effective.  Just because you’re under one roof doesn’t make you more effective.  Consider the true story:  one early intervention centre, one kindergarten, one day care and one *blanks on name* care centre under one roof.  Each have their own staff room – no one knows who they work with or the names of people from the different sections.  Think about it people.

Cultural Diversity
I’m only going to say this once, so listen up and listen closely.  It was only avaliable on the internet and in English.  Should I say more?  I can add (and is this under cultural diversity or not?) that the only people to attend and have the document readliy avaliable were teachers and those closely linked… and by that I do not mean parents!

So there you have it… my brief run down of the what happened in my part of the blueprint forum.  There’s more, but life is too good to spend sitting in front of the computer.  However, the one thing that was not addressed (at least not enough) and I need to mention is this – where in the blueprint and in schools is the support for those students who are really struggling.  The ones that we have assessed thinking that there is a disability and/ or impairment.  The ones that miss out on funding and the constant assistance they need by less than 5 points.  These are the students slipping through our system.  More on that another day.

Today there is more wine, there was an amazing dinner and now some trashy TV.  And soon?  Good books to read.

*sorry to change from sepcial education to spec ed to spec educators… but it’s my blog, and I will change at will since it’s not my masters write up and I can!


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