The Disability Strategy is a big investment according to Dr Sally Howell, of the Australian Association of Special Education (NSW).
“If you think of [the Strategy] in terms of productivity and independence – giving young people the skills they need to be functional in literacy and numeracy so their employment prospects go up – it is a worthy commitment,” she says.
Sally started her career in the classroom, training as a primary school teacher more than 30 years ago. She’s held different roles including for a parent advocacy group, as a support teacher and currently as principal of a school for specific purposes.
“Evidence-based practice has been my hobby horse ever since I first started as a primary school teacher and there were children in my class that were not learning as I had expected them to. I knew I needed to learn more so I could address the needs of these children.
“By learning about the research into what is effective instruction and implementing those practices in a school setting, you can see it does actually work in reality, not just in a research journal. It becomes perfectly reasonable to have high academic expectations for the children.
“I see a lot of children who are quite anxious when they start school, progress with their learning and become settled in a school environment. It is lovely, watching them making progress and asserting their joy and enthusiasm for life.”