Childrens' Week award for St Finbar's
|An award winning team, Ann O’Connor, student Thomas Peel, Sue Guilfoyle, Leesa Gillard, student Courtney Cook and Elizabeth Lewis|
St Finbar’s Primary School, Glenbrook, won an Honours Award in the Blue Mountains City Council’s Children’s Week Awards for their innovative Kindergarten induction program for special needs students.
The award was one of four honours presented in the category of Innovation, which recognised ground-breaking programs and policies that successfully incorporate families, multiple agencies and the wider community.
The St Finbar’s Kindergarten induction program was designed to integrate three special needs students into Kindergarten in 2006. Principal, Mrs Sue Guilfoyle, said such a program had never been attempted before at the school. “In previous years, we have integrated one special needs child at a time into mainstream schooling, but the integration of three students into one grade simultaneously was a new challenge.”
The program gradually introduced the students into the school environment with a number of staggered visits during 2005. “The immersion commenced with single visits, partner visits and small group visits with known pre-school friends to help the students adapt and become comfortable in a new learning and social environment,” said Sue.
Working in partnership with Glenbrook Pre-school, Lapstone Pre-school, the Autism Association and DOCs, St Finbar’s developed individual plans for the students. “We were often called upon to rethink plans and directions in order to meet the children’s emerging needs,” said Sue. “Each morning a staff briefing was held to re-negotiate the directions for the children that day. Each afternoon there were brief meetings with the parents to review the day’s events and discuss any changes that may be required for the following day.”
“It has required a great commitment from the two Kindergarten teachers, Leesa Gillard and Elizabeth Lewis, teachers’ aide Ann O’Connor, the preschool aides Margaret Cowper and Jill Gannon and the students and families. Their dedication has really helped ensure the program’s success.”
“It has been wonderful to see these three children blossom and form strong friendships with their peers and teachers.”
St Finbar’s is the first primary school to win a Blue Mountain’s City Council Children’s Week award in the ten years of these presentations.
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