As more children with disabilities enter mainstream schools, Deakin University’s Warrnambool campus has introduced a new course to support integration aides.
The course has been delivered for many years at the Geelong and Burwood campuses but is being offered in Warrnambool for the first time in 2011.
An intensive six-day program was held in the city earlier this year and a second course will start on October 19.
Camperdown integration aides Marie Wall and Julie Sinnott were among those to benefit from the first program.
“It gave us new tools on how to deal with issues that arise in the classroom,” Ms Sinnott said.
Ms Wall, who has been an integration aide for 18 years, said she had gained an insight into the different needs of students.
“It showed us that there’s always something new to learn,” she said.
Both aides, from St Patrick’s Primary School in Camperdown, said the program had given them more confidence in their work.
“We are guided by the teachers but this program gave us more skills to do what is needed,” Ms Sinnott said.
Integration aides and teacher aides play an important role in supporting teachers and schools to implement inclusive approaches to education.
Deakin’s educational projects manager Anne Savige said recent data showed that integration aides were requiring more access to professional learning programs, in
particular for autism spectrum disorder.
She added that more children with disabilities were attending mainstream schools rather than specialist schools.
There are about 6000 integration aides working in Victorian government schools.