Help at hand to boost skills

Michelle Lee and Nroamn Berryman with Alissa Floyd, Alex Jones,  and Sarah Chiri from Curtin University, who are helping students with speech pathology and physio.
Michelle Lee and Nroamn Berryman with Alissa Floyd, Alex Jones, and Sarah Chiri from Curtin University, who are helping students with speech pathology and physio.

A program just launched at Brookman Primary School means teachers can refer struggling children, aged from kindy to Year 2, to a team of final-year speech pathology, occupational therapy or physiotherapy students always on site.

Inter-Professional Education co-ordinator Alex Jones said waiting lists for these therapies were often up to two years. ‘These children will get seen straight away, they won’t fall through the cracks or get left behind; and if we perceive learning disabilities that don’t get covered by our fields, we can help refer them to the appropriate service,’ she said.

She said the students would learn generic skills that could be of use if they took jobs in remote towns, which did not always enjoy a full range of services.

They will also work with the school’s community health nurse and with playgroup parents at nearby Brookman House.

Principal Hans Geers said his student base was diverse, with many pupils from migrant and refugee backgrounds and some from disadvantaged backgrounds.

He said some lacked the fine motor or language skills they needed, and with more than 40 languages spoken in the school community, parents were not always aware of services available to help.

‘If they go to school with some physical issues, the dent that can put in a child’s confidence can be longlasting. It makes a significant difference to be confident enough to learn,’ Mr Geers said

He said the program would complement services the new child and parent centre, opening soon, would provide.

The program is already running at Neerigen Brook Primary School in Armadale and at Sacred Heart Primary School in Thornlie.

Curtin won first place for its interprofessional health education at the 2012 Australian Best Practice awards, run by the global Benchmarking Partnerships firm, whose clients include Australian governments, BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto.