Como teacher wins funding to expand special education classes

Teacher Jessica Colleu
Teacher Jessica Colleu

‘NO student gets left behind’ is what a Como Secondary College teacher wants to ensure as she helps lower-performing students to lift their literacy and numeracy results.

Special Education teacher Jessica Colleu teaches about 50 students in years 7 to 10 in special classes using customised methods such as Direct Instruction and explicit teaching.

“We started an ‘intervention’ at the school for kids at risk who are in the bottom 20 percentile,” she said.

“The most rewarding thing at the end of the day is to have the kids who struggled to count or spell and within a year or two they can read.”

Direct Instruction and explicit teaching involves systematic and intensive instruction to ensure students achieve a high level of success and mastery of the learning task.

Ms Colleu was one of 12 teachers across Australia who received the second annual Commonwealth Bank Teaching Awards, including $45,000 funding.

$30,000 will be for starting or continuing a pre-existing school project, $10,000 for Ms Colleu’s PhD as part of her professional development funding and $5000 for other expenses, including for a Singapore study tour in July.

Ms Colleu said she would like to expand the explicit teaching model including to ease the transition for kids in intervention as they enter mainstream classes.

“Some have started to duplicate our kind of intervention, like Warnbro Community High School has set up an intervention based on our school model,” she said.

“I’d like to have a bigger impact and train teachers to have a broader reach so more students would have access to good practice.”