Chatswood High School supports the right of students with disabilities to access mainstream subject areas within the school. This is at the core of our integration policy. The school's philosophy is that, first and foremost, students are part of the Chatswood High School community, with all the rights and responsibilities that that entails. Thus, students with disabilities will have their educational needs met by a combination of integrated and specialist classes. Additional support is provided by itinerant support teachers, interpreters, and teachers' aides.
Students attending the Support Unit come from a wide geographical area. Initially, students are referred by their local school counsellor who can assess their suitability and eligibility. Further enquiries can be directed to the Hornsby Regional Office of the Department of Education and Training, or to the Special Education staff at Chatswood High School.
The Chatswood High School Support Unit provides a quality education for students in Years 7 to 12. The goals of the Support Unit are:
- to value diversity
- to personalise learning for all students
- to include all students in learning experiences
Support Unit staff respond to the unique characteristics of all students and have high expectations for achievement.
The Support Unit has two classes that support students with mild intellectual disability (IM), one for students with a moderate intellectual disability (IO), and one class for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Each class is staffed by one teacher who is supported by School Learning Support Officer (SLSO).
Individual Education and Transition Plans
Each year students, teachers, parents, carers, and other key stakeholders meet to discuss progress and goals at the personalised learning and support plan meeting.
The purpose of an IEP or ITP is to describe a set of strategies to address the particular educational needs of the student. At Chatswood High School, students, parents and carers, and allied health professionals where appropriate, are actively encouraged to participate in planning for their program of study by attending IEP meetings.
Meetings are a great opportunity to collaborate on individualised goals and other key factors related to student learning and wellbeing.
Students the Support Unit have the opportunity to participate in school and community activities. At times this may be with support, and at others students may be expected to attend independently.
All students are encouraged to participate in extra- curricular activities. Activities that students can participate include AFL, choir, gaming club and art club.
All students in Year 7 will participate in the Peer Support program under the supervision of a teacher and SLSO. Students in Years 7, 9 and 11 are able to attend school camps.
Swimming, athletics and cross country carnivals, multicultural days and year specific welfare events are always popular events for students to participate in.
Most students in the Support Unit classes will access a Life Skills program of Study. Life Skills courses provide options for students with disability who cannot access the regular course outcomes. Programs focus on skills for independent living and may include:
- Australian History
- Australian Geography
- Work Education
- Design and Technology
- Visual Arts
- Personal Development, Health and Physical Education
For some students in the Support Unit it may be more appropriate to complete some of their subjects with regular course outcomes in a mainstream classroom. This will be discussed with parents at IEP meetings.
Further information on Life Skills can be found on the NESA website.
Additional programs and support
All programs in Support Unit classes contain a social skills component. Within timetables, teachers have specific lessons devoted to social skills.
Students regularly take part in social skill sessions, both in class as a part of teaching and learning programs and also informally through targeted social skill goals.
The social skills covered could include appropriate communication, empathy, making friends, and anger management.
Students may have the opportunity to participate in a Community Access, Travel Training, and Social Skills program once a week.
Students develop independent living skills in community situations. At different community locations, students practice the literacy, mathematics, map reading, and technology skills they have learnt in the classroom.
Activities include grocery shopping, banking, visiting the public library travel training (train, Metro bus, and ferry), and developing social connections and making friends with students from other schools.
Students in Years 10- 12 may be invited to do Work Experience one day a week. This may take the form of being part of a job crew that work at local businesses or at an independent site negotiated by parents, the classroom teacher, and careers adviser.
Work Experience provides students with a valuable opportunity to investigate future career pathways and to develop generic work skills such as punctuality, presentation, organisation, communication, problem solving, and team work.
Students in Years 11 and 12 may attend TAFE. Where possible, senior students go to TAFE and do mainstream or modified courses subject to course availability and funding. Students and their parents are involved in planning this program during the Year 10 ITP meeting. Students are expected to travel independently to and from TAFE.
Assisted School Travel Program
Some students in the Support Unit are unable to catch public transport to and from school and require Special Transport.
This program supports those eligible students who need transport assistance in order to attend school due to the nature of the student’s disability and the circumstances of the family. Support Unit staff will make an application on behalf of families. Students must be assessed as being unable to travel independently. Parents and carers will be required to fill out an application form including the specific reasons for their inability to provide or arrange travel for the student to and from school.
Further information can be found on the Assisted School Travel Program website.
Students are placed in the Support Unit at Chatswood High School by a Department of Education placement panel. The staff at Chatswood High School are not involved in the placement process.
To apply for placement in a Support Unit class, please contact your local public primary or high school and ask them to complete an Access Request form. Once completed, this form will be considered by the placement panel.
For further information contact the Department of Education Learning and Wellbeing Team at the Macquarie Park office on 9886 7000 and the NSW Department of Education website.