Our School - School Profile

Purpose

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

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 are drawn from Ballarat and surrounding districts. Enrolments continue to increase and at present we have 493 effective full time students inclusive of our kinder students in the Early Learning Centre Program ( see more under 'Our School' section). The School is divided into 4 mini schools being Early Years, Junior, Middle and Senior mini schools.  

Ballarat Specialist School now has 2 campuses. The main campus is located at 25 Gillies Street North, Lake Gardens and adjoins Ballarat High School and Ballarat Aquatic Centre. Our Senior School/ FARM Campus is situated at 800 Norman Street, Invermay Park. 

The school has 62 general purpose classrooms inclusive of both campuses. Each campus offers a variety of Specialist Programs for example music, instrumental music, art, hairdressing salon, P.E, health, outdoor education, horticulture and woodwork. Both campuses have Cafe's which are open to the public and ran by our hospitality staff. Our middle and senior students also get the opportunity to work in the cafe and learn work skills in this area whilst being supported by the hospitality staff.

Facilities at our Gillies Street Campus include a therapy centre, pool/spa and gymnasiums. The Educational Residential Unit provides a 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 middle years 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. 

The Senior School/ FARM Campus along with providing 15 of the 62 classrooms also allows students the opportunity to have hands on experience in a rural setting. Facilites at this campus include a walking track, sensory garden, play paddock, sheds for specialist programs, orchard and Horticulture garden space. Animals at the Farm include Alpaca's, pigs, goats and chickens. In addition there are two 2 bedroom units which give our senior students the opportunity to live independently as part of our Educational Residential Program. Our senior students are also supported by our work experience/careers officer who assists them with developing their post school options and gaining experience in a variety of work situations and developing vocational skills. The school is currently exploring VCAL for senior students in 2020.

Our ILT infrastructure provides computer access in all classrooms and specialised soft and hardware for students with special needs. All computers have Windows 10 which has allowed staff to access apps for students with specific learning outcomes. Our classrooms are fitted with interactive displays which provide students with opportunities to learn with the aid of the most up to date technological tools. The school provides a 1:1 iPad Program across the middle school and to those students who require specialised communication software (e.g. Proloquo2Go). Appropriate access to iPads and computers is provided in both the Junior and Senior schools. A school wide review is currently being undertaken during 2019 to establish the best mix of technology for 2020 onwards.

The Integrated Service team includes Allied Health and has grown to accomodate both campuses. Staffing includes 4 Occupational Therapists, 3 Speech Therapists including the Team Leader, 1 Physiotherapist, 4 Therapy Assistants, school nurse (at Gillies Street Campus) and a First Aid Officer (Farm/Senior Campus). In addition to Integrated services we also have a Wellbeing team comprising of a Psychologist (team leader), 2 Student Welfare Officers and 2 Education support assistants.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.

Each student has an Individual Learning Plan and this is developed in consultation with parents and carers. 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.

In addition to the Integrated Services team we also have a number of specialist staff. We have a Complex Learning Support Coach, Wellbeing & Engagement Learning Specialist, ICT Learning Specialist and a  Literacy/Numeracy Specialist who works across the whole school supporting students and staff. 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 School Council and a parent/carer group. Some parents/carers 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.