Eaglehawk Primary School Principal Fiona Lindsay has praised inclusion outreach coach Melinda Ellis for helping the school's leadership group feel confident with inclusive language, knowledge and practices.
Melinda began working with the school in Term 3, 2022, through the Inclusion Outreach Coaching initiative (watch the vimeo video), part of the Disability Inclusion reform program.
The initiative supports schools to implement evidence-based inclusive education practices. Coaches work with schools for a time-limited period to identify clear goals for improving inclusion, tailored to the school's specific needs and context.
At Eaglehawk Primary School, Fiona said Melinda had a big impact in her goal of helping school staff to feel confident with inclusive language, knowledge and practices.
While Melinda started by gaining an understanding of the school's setting, she then helped the school reflect on their systems and processes, as they worked together to develop an action plan.
By 2025, every Victorian specialist school will receive funding to employ an inclusion outreach coach.
Inclusion outreach in action at Eaglehawk Primary School
Reflecting on the success of the school's Term 3 collaboration with Melinda, Fiona said it was vital their disability inclusion teacher was involved, as part of the school's leadership group.
Melinda worked with the school leadership group to develop an action plan and resources across the 3 tiers of support, to ensure students can access a consistent, inclusive educational culture.
'Our overall goal was for all staff to be able to verbalise what a strategy, adjustment and a support was, and that there would be a bank of these resources available,' Melinda said.
Importantly, Melinda said, the school already had some great practices embedded across the school.
Through classroom observations and professional development sessions, Melinda helped the school's leadership group and staff to continue to build their confidence and understanding.
She also monitored their success through regular meetings and follow-ups, to help the school stay on track and celebrate their successes.
'The leadership team had some amazing ideas, and I was able to use my time at the school to support their vision though creating resources and support systems,' Melinda said.
Melinda put processes and documents in place to help staff feel confident to use the language of adjustment, strategy and support, along with other disability inclusion vocabulary.
'Mel made all staff feel as though we were learning together,' Fiona said.
'I believe that the work done here in a term will have huge impacts on teacher confidence in making adjustments for all students in their classrooms,' Melinda said.