FOR years, John XXIII College in Mt Claremont has had a reputation as a leader in education and the college’s special education centre is no exception.
Named after one of the college’s inspirational figures, the Mary Ward Centre offers state-of-the-art facilities for students, enabling students with intellectual disabilities to have access to practical learning opportunities alongside mainstream learning.
Mary Ward Centre head of learning Gill Lyon said each of the 18 students had an individualised program.
“The students have varying disabilities, from high needs to lower needs,” she said.
“Each student’s program is tailored to meet their needs, so some are in and out taking part in mainstream elective classes such as food, textiles, woodwork and physical education.”
Ms Gill said that as part of the program, students in years 10, 11 and 12 visited workplaces once a week.
“The students go out to organisations such as Royal Lifesaving or the Catholic Education office, or to competitor workplaces such as Bunnings, Coles or Woolworths,” she said.
“We never know where their work opportunities might evolve. For example, we have an ex-student who works at The West Australian two mornings a week.”
Ms Gill said students who were not be able to go into the workplace went on “life and leisure” outings with staff.
“The students are taken to communities venues, such as Scitech for example, where they went last week,” she said.
“They are taught life skills about behaving appropriately in a public environment, as well as on public transport, which they use to get to and from the venue.
“The difference between when the students come in and when they leave is enormous; you really see the difference in the way they manage all the skills we take for granted.”
The highlight of the students’ week is when the Leader of the Week award is handed out.
“The ‘habit program’ is our leadership program that underpins everything we do,” Ms Lyon said.
“It makes the whole environment a very positive one because we talk the language of leadership and it gives the students a framework.
“The student who displays the best leadership gets the ‘Leader of the Week’ badge, an award they wear with much pride.”