Students with Autism who have complex support needs will be able to enrol in schools with new specialist learning programs starting from 2017. Sixteen schools will be selected to run the specialist programs by early 2020.
The new programs will be in mainstream primary and secondary schools to cater for the specific needs of students with Autism, from kindergarten to year 12. The programs are for students at significant risk of disengagement, underachievement and/or who display complex, challenging behaviours. Age appropriate academic engagement and achievement will be targeted. Students will generally spend some of their time in the ‘homeroom’ classrooms, engaging in the specialised learning programs and some of their time in mainstream classrooms where they will also receive additional support.
It is expected there will be between 22 and 25 students in each primary program and between 12 and 18 students in each secondary program. Schools will manage the enrolment process with reference to specific eligibility criteria for students:
- a diagnosis of Autism;
- no diagnosed intellectual disability;
- significant social, emotional and/or behavioural issues and challenges directly attributed to the impact of Autism
- independent self-management of personal care requirements; and
- eligibility for enrolment in Western Australian public schools.
A welcome initiative
While most students with Autism perform well in mainstream classes in local schools, often with additional support; and education support centres will continue to enrol students with Autism who have intellectual disability, the new Autism specialist programs for students who face additional challenges are a welcome initiative of the Education Department of WA.
First school selected
Gosnells Primary School has been selected as the location for the first specialist Autism program. Gosnells will be working with nearby schools with eligible children to ensure families have the opportunity to consider the new program. Any applications made directly to the school will also be considered.
Visit the Department of Education website for more details.