Elite athlete coaches Marangaroo Primary School students

Isaac Birir is an Athletics Coach at Marangaroo Primary School. Photo: David Baylis
Isaac Birir is an Athletics Coach at Marangaroo Primary School. Photo: David Baylis

CHILDREN with autism are striding forward thanks to Marangaroo Primary School’s specialist programs.

The school has a program for children diagnosed with autism, as well as physical education, performing arts and Indonesian as its language.

Elite runner Isaac Birir (38) has been coaching athletics at the school this month in the lead-up to the athletics carnival on August 31.

City to Surf 21km Half Marathon Winner Isaac Birir. Photo: Matt Jelonek

Mr Birir said many children did not know they were good at athletics and he was discovering a lot of talent.

“I see a lot of athletic talent in terms of running, jumping and throws,” he said.

“I’m teaching them the technique of running.

“A lot of kids have the talent, but they don’t know how to do it and they are wasting a lot of energy.

“If they have the right technique, they improve their time.”

Isaac Birir helping students (LEFT) Angel Mulligan (11) of Maylands and (RIGHT) James Mead (11) of Marangaroo. Photo: David Baylis


The Balga resident said he was also teaching students techniques for long and triple jump through the Athletics Australia program.

Funded through the Federal Sporting Schools Australia program, the coaching clinics are run two days a week at Marangaroo Primary and on Mondays at Queens Park Primary.

Deputy principal Wally Malanczak said the school’s three classes for children with autism were taking part in the athletics training with mainstream classes.

Mr Malanczak said they had already seen progress among the children with autism as they learnt techniques like kicking, throwing and catching balls and lost their fear of the ball.

Birir born to run

Born in Kenya, Mr Birir said he used to run 5km to school, home for lunch and back again as a child.

He took up running professionally when he was 25, and used to be a short distance runner.

“I’ve travelled most of this world because of running,” he said.

Last year, he won the City to Surf half marathon and he hopes to do so again this Sunday.

He also won the Melbourne Marathon last October, outpacing his Kenyan long distance counterparts. Principal looks to expand

TAYLOR Webb has taken up the principal position at Marangaroo Primary School this term.

Mr Webb replaced Nicole Hanna, who transferred to John Butler Primary College, after three-and-a-half years at Duncraig Primary as deputy principal.

Taylor Webb is the Principal at Marangaroo Primary School.

His teaching career started in Halls Creek 10 years ago and he has also worked at Padbury Primary.

“It’s very different to Duncraig but an exciting opportunity,” Mr Webb said, adding Marangaroo was a multicultural school.

He said the school had 220 students, including about 21 in the specialist learning program for children with autism which started this year.

“They are children who are not able to access the curriculum in mainstream local schools,” he said.

“The aim is to have those students come in and learn those social skills and re-engage back into the curriculum.”

Mr Webb said the three autism classes had their own homerooms and joined mainstream classes for parts of the day.

He said they had already seen success with one student who had a 4 per cent attendance rate at his local school but was now achieving a 90 per cent attendance rate.

Mr Webb said there was potential for growth at the school, which at its peak had about 700 students.

He said part of the drop had been the changing demographics as the suburb got older, and younger families built homes in developments farther north.

“We would like to become the school of choice in the area,” the principal said.

“It’s a lovely school with great grounds, lots of room and good teachers.”