Inclusive preschool program encouraging high expectations

Staff at Punchbowl Public School say their school’s Innovation Program project has had positive benefits for children and their parents.

Objective

Build inclusive teaching practice through applying co-teaching and universal design for learning (UDL) within a preschool environment and measuring the impact on student, educator and parent outcomes.

Measure of success

Greater inclusion between early intervention and mainstream classes in the preschool and improved teaching practice and student learning and wellbeing.

Partner schools

· Punchbowl Public School (PPS)

External partners

· Katrina Barker and Danielle Tracey, Western Sydney University

Overview

Staff at Punchbowl Public School have combined early intervention support and mainstream classes to create an inclusive preschool as one of the Disability Strategy’s innovation program projects.

The preschool is working with Western Sydney University (WSU) to build teachers’ capacity to create an inclusive play-based environment using universal design for learning (UDL) and co-teaching practices.

Punchbowl began their progress towards inclusion in Term 4, 2019 and by April 2020 students were already learning together during outdoor play time.

The school’s four mainstream and four early intervention support preschool classes have always been just across the hall from one another, but students have traditionally interacted separately.

Punchbowl Public School Principal Dace Elletson said earlier this year that the project grew out of an exploration of what it would look like to cater for all children together.

“We’re getting great feedback from the parents of kids with disability – saying ‘I never thought my kid would be able to play with other kids’. It’s important they’re seeing it at preschool age. It sets up a high expectations of what they want for their child,” said Mr Elletson.

“It’s good for all our students to see this person is different to me but we’re all valuable and can all contribute.”

Find out more at the Innovation Program webpage.

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