Individual support makes the difference

Early intervention makes a real difference for children with additional needs at this Adelaide school.

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The benefits of individual or small group tutoring are obvious to teachers at Sheidow Park Primary School in Adelaide.

Children taking part in the special programs for literacy, numeracy and social skills progress “in leaps and bounds”, says principal Jennie- Marie Gorman.

But the school is battling to keep pace with the increasing complexity of children’s needs.

Gorman, who’s in her sixth year at the school, has seen “quite significant” change in students over that time.

Teachers are noticing that trauma, anxiety and Autism Spectrum Disorder are now highly prevalent among children just starting school.

“Teachers are managing issues they’re not trained for, and the problem is that the funding hasn’t caught up.”

Only about 20% of the children with disability who need extra support meet the stringent criteria for additional needs funding.

“So we take money from other areas. For example, the exterior of the school needs to be painted – it’s been needed since before I arrived – but we would rather put the money into our programs,” says Gorman.

Even then, the funding doesn’t meet all of the children’s needs. Extra funding would allow the school to provide its programs to all children for as long as they need.

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