A Creative Partnership: Enhancing Research, Policy, and Practice in Brisbane Catholic Schools

Year: 1991

Author: Curtis, Sue, Young, Janelle

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Catholic schools in Queensland have provided educational opportunities for children with special needs for many years, but not until 1985 was an official policy on the inclusion of special needs children in regular schools ratified. The development of individuals is clearly set out in the policy document. Catholic special education focuses on the individual, and aims to facilitate the integration of faith and life as they are experienced in the family, school, Church and community. It involves a matching of individual needs with a range of service alternatives, including personnel, approaches, programs materials and equipment. (Queensland Catholic Schools and Special Education, 1985). Because there are special needs children currently enrolled in regular Catholic schools, an urgent need exists for the Australian Catholic University to inform undergraduate students of current policy and to provide appropriate introductory training. This thinking is in line with recommendation 3, published by the Advisory Council for Special Educational Needs in 1990. The recommendation is as follows: That higher education institutions provide compulsory units of study to prepare teachers to support pupils with special education needs. ( The Way Ahead, 1990:21). Staffing limitations at the Australian Catholic University Queensland (A.C.U.Q.) early in 1990 prevented the employment of a full time lecturer in the field of Special Education and alternative means of staffing an undergraduate unit had to be investigated. The Brisbane Catholic Education Centre (B.C.E.C.) provides ongoing support and inservice education for teachers of children with special needs. Young graduates were entering the teaching profession with insufficient knowledge and understanding of special needs children and thus the need for an undergraduate unit within the Bachelor of Teaching became evident. A coalition of staff of ACUQ and BCEC was formed late in 1990 and work began to design a suitable framework for the unit. This paper will examine the unique design of the unit, a research study to measure changes in knowledge and attitudes of the students, and the implications for organisations that develop creative partnerships.