Our School - School Profile

Purpose

To enable and encourage all students and staff to reach their full potential in a safe and stimulating environment.

Environment Context

Ballarat Specialist School is a school providing education programs for 3 -18 year old students with mild, moderate and severe intellectual disabilities associated with physical, social, emotional, behavioral, multiple and sensory impairments. Our students come from across all socio economic groups and a large portion of our students come from families with complex needs. In 2016 the enrolment continued to increase to 452 effective full time students. The School is divided into Junior, Middle and Senior sections.  
Ballarat Specialist School’s main campus is located at 25 Gilles Street, Lake Gardens and adjoins Ballarat High School and Ballarat Aquatic Centre. Our FARM campus is situated in Norman St Ballarat. Students are drawn from Ballarat and surrounding districts.

The school is accommodated, across two campuses, in purpose built facilities for students with diverse special needs. The school has 43 general purpose classrooms: multipurpose and manual activities areas, music/drama classrooms and a musical instrumental teaching area. It has a therapy centre, pool/spa and gymnasiums. It has a hairdressing salon and a Café which is open to the public and run by our students who are supported by staff with hospitality experience. The Educational Residential Unit provides a 24 hour Home and Community Living skills program for students for up to 10 weeks at a time. The Young Adult Centre provides a state of the art facility for our senior students including large open space classrooms and a central atrium. The centre hosts toilets and self-care facilities designed to meet the needs of young adults with special needs. A commercial kitchen is provided as well as kitchens shared between classrooms. The school also has a number of resource centres, staff, administration and office areas. In 2013 our Early Learning Centre was opened and now provides programs for 3 and 4 year old students.

The FARM campus provides students with the opportunity to have hands on experience in a rural setting; There are two 2 bedroom units which allow our senior students the opportunity to live independently and replicate a real life experience of living as young adults in a community setting. Currently the FARM also houses 4 classrooms due to our expanding enrolment numbers and lack of enough classrooms at our Gillies St. Campus.

Our ILT infrastructure provides computer access in all classrooms and specialised soft and hardware for students with special needs. All computers have Windows 8 which has allowed staff to access apps for students with specific learning outcomes. Our classrooms are fitted with interactive whiteboards which provide students with opportunities to learn with the aid of the most up to date technological tools. The school provides a 1:1 Program for all students above the age of 7. The unique aspect of this program is self-managed by the students and they are able to take the iPads home and have individual iTunes accounts. We have put access points for Wi-Fi in our two cafes to enable parents without internet access at home to allow them free access at the school.

The therapy team has grown to include 2 full time and 3 part time Occupational Therapists, 3 Speech Therapists, 1.6 Physiotherapists, 2 Therapy Assistants, 0.6 Psychologist, School Chaplain and School Nurse. This team supports both staff and students with a range of service delivery, including 1:1 direct service, small group work and consultation with staff. The therapists’ model of delivery is designed to best suit the needs of the students and staff.

Each student has an Individual Education Plan and this is developed in consultation with parents and care givers. Personal Development and behaviour management programs are an essential part of our curriculum and are integrated into our daily programs.
Our students with complex needs are additionally supported in a range ways:
• I am me program, the play program, social skills programs,
• Therapy programs such as hydro and the PMP program
• Additional therapy services to maintain equipment and support for funding.
• Using alternative and augmentative communication systems.
• Life skills programs at the FARM and the Gillies St. campus specifically designed to support students with complex needs.
•Streaming classes during literacy/numeracy sessions. |
• Specialised technology which enable students to access the internet and other applications for learning.
• Programs to support students with sensory processing difficulties.

Our senior students are supported by 2 work experience officers who assist them with developing their post school options and gaining experience in a variety of work situations and developing vocational skills. We employ 2 Literacy specialists who work across the whole school supporting staff to teach literacy and improve student outcomes in this area. They also work directly with students on a 1:1 basis and a small group basis.

The school community provides support to the school through involvement in the School Council and a parent group, some parents volunteer in swimming or gymnastic programs or in classrooms.
The wider community is very supportive of the school with a large group of volunteers and community service groups supporting our programs. Ballarat Specialist School has a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Ballarat and the two organisations have developed a close working relationship. Most importantly it provides pre service teachers, Human Movement students and Master of Special Education students the experience of working in a specialist setting and working with young people with a disability.