Autism CRC Early Years Behaviour Support: Supporting Professional Learning in Rural and Remote Regions through a Problem Solving and Consultative Approach

Year: 2019

Author: Saggers, Beth

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Focus & relevance

Contributing to a “socially just” world, this research informs policy and practices to meet the professional learning needs of rural and remote school communities. The research reports on tele-classroom consultation (TCC) – a novel, problem-solving, collaborative method used in rural and remote regions of Australia. The TCC approach facilitated the professional learning of teachers and promoted the successful implementation of inclusive practices that support the social emotional wellbeing, school connectedness and academic success of early years learners on the autism spectrum.

Context & Contribution

This research investigates an innovation that adds to a growing body of literature across a range of different education research fields including:

* Inclusive education

* Rural education

* Teacher education and research innovation

* Professional education and learning

Design & methods

In response to the lack of detailed preliminary research on the TCC approach in schools (Streb, 2010), a series of exploratory case studies were employed (Thomas 2011; Yin 2012) allowing comprehensive assessment of the cases of interest (Simons, 2009). Across a two-year period, TCC was implemented for one school year in five rural and remote schools in Queensland and New South Wales. These schools were working with early years learners on the spectrum with challenging and complex needs. Qualitative data was collected pre-, mid-, and post-implementation from the research team, school community and parents about their perceptions of the approach.

Results & Findings

Initial findings suggest TCC can support teacher capacity building and schools to create more inclusive cultures, produce inclusive policies and develop inclusive practices. These case studies highlight positive outcomes from using a TCC approach to support the professional learning in schools in rural and remote regions to effectively meet the needs of early years learners on the spectrum. Findings also accentuate positive benefits for other children and highlight the potential of this approach to support inclusive capacity building in schools (Booth & Ainscow, 2002). This may be achieved by using the TCC approach as an inclusive strategy to ensure particular attention is paid to the individual needs of students on the spectrum, their families, and the broader classroom and school context. Some examples of resources that have been developed to support the translation of knowledge from findings of this study will also be shared.The research reports on how this innovative approach supported school communities to adopt strategies that promote equity, access, participation and engagement of learners on the spectrum. Knowledge translation of research outputs will also be discussed.