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Public hearing 2: Education and learning, Townsville - Day 3

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MS McMILLAN:   Yes.  Thank you, Chair.  Queensland is making positive and determined steps along the journey towards inclusion in education.  Significant milestone for the state education system was the 2016 commissioning of the independent review into the education of students with disability in Queensland by the Deloitte Access Economics, and has continued with the ongoing implementation of all 17 recommendations resulting from this review.  And I think you’ve heard it referred to in short form as the Deloitte Review.

For some of the witnesses you will hear today, their journey, as it might be called, has started a lot sooner than that, and for some of them it’s really been almost their entire career but at least in a concentrated form for – as long ago as seven years.  And, in fact, when Ms AAA spoke about some government funding having ceased, that was the government – Federal Government partnership that ceased about five years ago.  So this was some of the impetus leading up to the Deloitte review.  Ms Dunstone will be able to speak to all of these matters in her evidence.

So in responding to these recommendations, the Department has developed a systematic and practical approach to improving outcomes for students with disability.  This approach is outlined in the Every Student with Disability Succeeding plan, and involves setting expectations to ensure students are supported to achieve their full potential, focusing on capability to ensure teachers are confident in their ability in supporting all students and partnering with parents so that parents and schools work together to help students succeed.  Central to this work as highlighted by the Commission on Day 1 of the hearing has been the 2018 release of the Department of Education’s Inclusive Education Policy, which is largely informed by Article 24 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and clearly identifies what inclusive education is and what is not.

Can I pause there to say that you will have read in Ms Dunstone’s statement about the criteria of the earlier EAP and the broader ranging NCCD category, which is, indeed, a very broad definition and includes, for instance, autism and other disabilities.  And can I say there we’ve heard a lot of evidence about, for instance, autism, and we want to emphasise that disability, of course, is much more than conditions such as autism.  We’ve also heard about issues such as wheelchair access.  But we want to – and the witnesses today will speak of the very broad range of disabilities and the importance of putting the individual child at the centre of what needs to be done by each school in meeting their individual needs.  We also want to point out that for a number of children, they have a constellation of disabilities.  So that it is not that a child has only one particular disability, there may be a number of issues that need to be at the forefront in meeting their needs individually.

Moreover, this policy commits the Department to ensuring children and young people from all social, cultural, community and family backgrounds, and of all identities and abilities to attend their local school and be welcome, access, participate


and fully engage with the curriculum along their similarly aged peers, learn in a safe and supportive environment and achieve academically and socially with reasonable adjustments tailored to meeting their learning needs.  And evidence suggests this policy is already having an impact. 

I pause there to say, of course, it’s limited at this stage given the recency of the policy.  The Assistant Director-General, State Schools Disability and Inclusion, Ms Dunstone will share more information about this policy in her evidence.  She will talk about how this policy has already begun to transform the way parents and students with disability experience education in the State School system.  I pause there because you heard from Dr Bridle earlier this week, and Ms Dunstone will be able to say that, for instance, as far as she understands, Queensland is the only State that funds a parent advocacy body.  And that was, of course, part of the Deloitte Review.  So it’s obviously, clearly, a very important step. 

This policy is not just being viewed as a glossy document but it is actually being embedded in practice.  This is measured in school performance against four clear measures of success.  The implementation is given the highest level priority of oversight and governance and Ms Dunstone at paragraph 66 expands upon this.  These measures are improving the A to E performance for students with disability, increasing the proportion of students with disability receiving a Queensland Certificate of Education, decreasing the proportion of students with disability receiving a school disciplinary absence, and reducing the number of students with disability not attending a full school program.

It is acknowledged that schools and teachers are at different stages of their inclusion journey.  There could be no reasonable expectation that with a rollout across the State of a significant policy with curriculum requirements, attendant supports and professional developments and follow-up that there would be uniformity certainly at this point in time.  This goal is apparent from the early years of a child’s development through Queensland’s Early Childhood Development Program which supports the transition of children with disability to school, and including more children with disability in kindergarten programs to ensure that expectations are in place from the outset and that students are supported with reasonable adjustments at every stage of their learning. 

You heard evidence from Mr Bates about this program yesterday about the value of this program, and Ms Dunstone can speak to its effectiveness.  For instance, in 2019, $63.6 million over the next four years has been committed to it.  The importance of early engagement with children and families will no doubt become more apparent as the Commission continues its work.  It is recognised that leadership is critical and supervision and support is provided to principals by Regional Directors with presentations, workshops, setting inclusions and better student outcomes for students as priorities.  And, again, Ms Dunstone speaks to this in her statement.

Resources for teachers to support students with disabilities in the mainstream include the HOIS, another acronym, autism coaches, behaviour support teachers, inclusion


coaches, professional development, to name a few.  And can I pause there to say professional development, of course, includes much more than attendances at conferences and such like and are included again in the statements of the witnesses you will hear from.  HOSES – another acronym – are an integral part of the school team, and you will shortly hear from three of them as they lead the cultural change within the schools that they work within.

Ms Dunstone – I want to turn to a number of matters that have fallen from the evidence this week.  Ms Dunstone does address special schools, but given the further evidence this week, it is likely we will need to provide further material after this week.  And we note, for instance, importantly, the Commission has not heard from the independent schools sector about this issue.  So that whilst she will be able to give some evidence, it’s likely we may need to give further evidence on notice about those issues.  Issues such as restrictive practices, we respectfully submit, are too complex to be dealt with on the run, so to speak, in relation to some evidence Dr Bridle gave and it’s submitted it warrants full attention as a distinct topic. 

Teachers’ aides have been addressed in evidence.  And again, you will have seen from the statements, a number of witnesses address this today, their roles, and Ms Dunstone will give her insights also as to their roles within schools.  And I think refreshingly, you will note from all of the statements that all of them have individual perspectives about the Education Department’s policies and the way in which it works within their schools, and they’re all individualised.  It can be seen they’re all very much their own views of what they perceive within their own schools and roles.  Ms Dunstone will also speak of the importance of parent advocacy, and I have already touched upon that.

In concluding, by ensuring that the policy of inclusion is embedded into practice by supporting the capability and development of staff and by actively engaging with parents along the way, the Department is focused on delivering a consistently high quality education standard for all students including our most vulnerable.  You will hear evidence from representatives from three schools who will paint the picture of what this looks like in practice.  Thank you.

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   Thank you, Ms McMillan.  Yes, Dr Mellifont.

DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.  The appearances are as per yesterday.  May I thank my learned friend Ms McMillan sincerely for the forward copy of her opening as a professional courtesy which we have appreciated very much.

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   Actually, before you start, can I just ask Ms McMillan something.


COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   We don’t have the benefit of the Commonwealth here.



COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   We have heard, of course, that education is a State responsibility.


COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   Under the Constitution.  That is true to a point.


COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   The Commonwealth has very extensive powers.  Obviously, it has considerable responsibilities by way of funding.


COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   We are dealing with education and, in particular, the Convention.  Article 24 of the Convention obliges State Parties, including Australia, to adopt a right to inclusive education.  Under the constitution, the external affairs power, the Commonwealth, can legislate, and, indeed, under the obligations by the Convention, is obliged to legislate on one view to implement a right to inclusive education.

One of the things that, speaking for myself, I would be interested in, is what the position of the State of Queensland would be about the role of the Commonwealth in directly implementing such a right and how that would interact with the responsibilities of the State.  I don’t expect you to give a comprehensive answer immediately, but perhaps that’s something you might like to take on board at some stage to consider.

MS McMILLAN:   I will certainly be taking that under consideration.  That is certainly not something I would be giving an immediate answer to.

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   I didn’t – I didn’t expect that, but thank you very much.

MS McMILLAN:   Thank you.

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   Sorry, Dr Mellifont.  I once again interrupted.

DR MELLIFONT:   Not at all.  I can indicate that I’m instructed that the Commonwealth are monitoring proceedings remotely through an evidence hearing room portal.



DR MELLIFONT:   I call Jewelann Mary Melody Kauppila, Loren Maree Swancutt and Catherine Morris.

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   Thank you very much for your attendance.  You each of course can take the oath or affirmation as you wish.  Just follow the instructions of the Associate, thank you.

<LOREN MAREE SWANCUTT, AFFIRMED                                                                                                                    [10.13 am]

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   Thank you very much.  Please sit down.  Thank you.

<CATHERINE MORRIS, AFFIRMED                                                                                                                    [10.13 am]

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   Thank you.  Please sit down.

<JEWELANN MARY MELODY KAUPPILA, SWORN                                                                                                                    [10.14 am]

<EXAMINATION BY DR MELLIFONT                                            

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   Thank you.  Please sit down and thank you again for your attendance.  Dr Mellifont will now ask you some questions.  If at any time anyone feels the need to have a break, please let us know and we will do that.  But our present intention is to continue till about 11.30 and then we will have a break at that time.  Thank you.

DR MELLIFONT:   Ms Morris, I will start with you, do some introductory paragraphs and then we will get into the substance of it.  Can you state your full name, please.

MS MORRIS:   Catherine Morris.

DR MELLIFONT:   What’s your current position?

MS MORRIS:   My current position is Acting Head of Inclusion for Regional – for this region.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  What do you – how do you term this region?  What’s it called?  Part of Queensland  ‑ ‑ ‑


MS MORRIS:   It’s called North Queensland region.

DR MELLIFONT:   North Queensland.  Okay.  And your substantive position?

MS MORRIS:   My substantive position is Head of Special Education, Bowen State High School.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  You have a Bachelor of Learning Management 2011.  Is that a yes?


DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  So, with responses, we just need to speak so the transcription picks it up.  Thank you.  And where was that from?

MS MORRIS:   From Central Queensland University.

DR MELLIFONT:   And are you currently completing a Graduate Certificate of Special Education?

MS MORRIS:   I am.


MS MORRIS:   But that’s actually – the university has stopped that.  So I need – I’ve done two units and then I need to continue that somewhere else.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Do you know why it stopped?


DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  That’s a shame.




MS MORRIS:   It is a shame.

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   ‑ ‑ ‑ had enrolled in a course and then they stopped the course in the middle.




MS MORRIS:   They did recommend that I ‑ ‑ ‑


MS MORRIS:   ‑ ‑ ‑ apply to another university.


DR MELLIFONT:   We’ll make some inquiries.  All right.  So you’ve had a lengthy history in teaching?

MS MORRIS:   I have.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Including teaching at Bowen State High School, Chevallum?

MS MORRIS:   Chevallum Primary School on the Sunshine Coast.

DR MELLIFONT:   And Katherine High School from 1995 to 1998.

MS MORRIS:   In the Northern Territory.

DR MELLIFONT:   Yes.  Did you start teaching at Bowen State High School in the Special Education Program?


DR MELLIFONT:   And was that with a general allocation in History and Geography from November 2011 until the second semester of 2013?

MS MORRIS:   I did Geography, but I also was taught in the SEP classroom, special education classroom.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Now, your statement tells me that your allocation include acting as a 0.2 HOSES.  What does that mean?

MS MORRIS:   That means the full allocation is – is 20 hours or five days a week, and mine was point two of that, which was the equivalent of a day or four – I don’t really know how to explain it.

DR MELLIFONT:   Yes.  Okay.  So 0.2 of a full-time ‑ ‑ ‑

MS MORRIS:   Yes, of a full-time position.

DR MELLIFONT:   ‑ ‑ ‑ work component.  So HOSES is Head of Special Education Services.



DR MELLIFONT:   And that’s terminology which is being phased out depending upon how people choose within a particular school to reframe that position;  is that right?


DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  So you got a substantive position in HOSES – as a HOSES in 2015?


DR MELLIFONT:   Is that so?  Okay.  And prior to your employment at Bowen, you led a transition to work program for students with disabilities at Katherine High School in the Northern Territory?


DR MELLIFONT:   And you’ve also worked as an inclusion support assistant at that school.


DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Your work at Chevallum State Primary School includes supporting children with disabilities and mainstream?


DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Ms Kauppila, please state your full name.

MS KAUPPILA:   My full name is Jewelann Mary Melody Kauppila.

DR MELLIFONT:   I’m sorry.  There you go.  Sorry about the pronunciation.  We’ve all got it wrong all week.  What’s your current position, please?

MS KAUPPILA:   I am currently the Head of Department Inclusive Practices at Ingham State High School.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Do you hold a Bachelor of Education from Griffith University and a Diploma of Teaching in Primary and Special Schools?


DR MELLIFONT:   And approximately what years were they achieved?


MS KAUPPILA:   I commenced in 1985, and I finished my diploma in ’87, and then in 1998, I did my Bachelor of Education.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  And so you’ve worked as a teacher in both mainstream and special education programs at various schools since that time?


DR MELLIFONT:   And commenced at Ingham on a part-time basis, January 27 – 2007?


DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  And commenced working as the Acting Head of Special Education Services at Ingham in October 2014, appointed permanently in term 3 of 2015.


DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Thank you.  Ms Swancutt.

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   Counsel often whisper to each other, so don’t worry.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Your full name, please.

MS SWANCUTT:   Loren Maree Swancutt.

DR MELLIFONT:   Your current position.

MS SWANCUTT:   I am currently seconded into a regional HOSES inclusion role for the North Queensland region.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Your substantive position prior to that.

MS SWANCUTT:   Is as Head of Special Education Services at Thuringowa State High School.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Do you hold a Bachelor of Education, Primary and Special Education from Charles Sturt University, 2008.


DR MELLIFONT:   And a Master’s of Inclusive Education, 2016, from that same university.



DR MELLIFONT:   Whilst you were completing your Bachelor’s degree, were you casually employed as a learning support teacher aide?

MS SWANCUTT:   That’s correct.

DR MELLIFONT:   And that was at a local independent school.

MS SWANCUTT:   Correct.

DR MELLIFONT:   You did all your university practicums at mainstream schools?

MS SWANCUTT:   I did, yes.

DR MELLIFONT:   And that included a specific practicum involving co-teaching with another pre-service teacher.  Can you tell me about that? 

MS SWANCUTT:   Yes.  So in our degree at university, it was a requirement – probably second or third year.  I can’t be certain on that, given the timeframe now, but that we did a co-teaching practicum with another student that was in our course.  So I actually returned to Tasmania, my home state, to do that with another student that was in the same degree as me.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  And so were the two of you pre-service teachers? ‑ ‑ ‑

MS SWANCUTT:   We were both – yes.

DR MELLIFONT:   ‑ ‑ ‑ teaching that classroom together.

MS SWANCUTT:   Together.  From the same year level in the same course, yes.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  You also had a six-week inclusive education internship in the final year of your degree.  Can you tell me about that, please?

MS SWANCUTT:   Yes.  So I made the decision to undertake a double major in my degree.  So, at the beginning of our third year of Bachelor, we have the opportunity to do a specialisation.  So some primary teachers choose to do music or HPE or a language.  In my instance, I chose to do special education which resulted in us doing six Master’s level subjects as part of our undergraduate degree, and one of the requirements of that was to complete an internship in relation to inclusive education.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Can I ask you, those six master’s level subjects, when you then go on to your Master’s of Inclusive Education, do they carry across as credit ‑ ‑ ‑


DR MELLIFONT:   ‑ ‑ ‑ or start again?


MS SWANCUTT:   I was lucky.  I was able to credit four of those.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Did you commence your teaching career with a permanent appointment as a special ed teacher with the Department in 2009?

MS SWANCUTT:   I did, yes.

DR MELLIFONT:   And did you teach within the special education programs of Heatley Primary School and Kirwan State High School till 2012?

MS SWANCUTT:   Correct.

DR MELLIFONT:   And then you were appointed as Acting Head of Special Education Services;  is that correct?

MS SWANCUTT:   Acting at Kirwan High, yes.

DR MELLIFONT:   Yes.  Okay.  Then there was a period of maternity leave.


DR MELLIFONT:   And then back.


DR MELLIFONT:   And then appointed as substantive HOSES which is now called Head of Inclusive Schooling at Thuringowa.

MS SWANCUTT:   Post first round of maternity leave, I was appointed to Pimlico ‑ ‑ ‑

DR MELLIFONT:   Pimlico ‑ ‑ ‑

MS SWANCUTT:   ‑ ‑ ‑ State High School as teacher in charge and I remained there until I won the substantive position at Thuringowa, yes.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Now, in addition to your roles, you’ve mentioned – you’ve also worked as a regional autism – sorry, regional autism coach during 2018?

MS SWANCUTT:   Correct.

DR MELLIFONT:   So can I just ask were you doing that in addition to another substantive role at the same time or were you acting in that position?

MS SWANCUTT:   No, so seconded into the role regionally just like the one that we’re currently in now.


DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  So tell me about that role, please.

MS SWANCUTT:   So that role for me commenced in term 2 of 2018 until the end of – well, to the beginning of this year, actually, until I switched over to this current role.  So as a regional position to support schools to advance the inclusive education of students with autism.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  All right.  So what does it look like on the ground?

MS SWANCUTT:   Sure.  So a principal would request support through their assistant regional director to the region, and we’d have a conversation about what they wanted that support to look like, and then I would go to the school and support the principal around the problem of fracas that they were having in relation to a student or students with autism.

DR MELLIFONT:   All right.  And, again, to try and get to – to understand what it actually means in reality.


DR MELLIFONT:   So a principal tells you what they think they want something to look like, what might that be?  We’re trying to break through the language here.

MS SWANCUTT:   Yes.  No, that’s okay.  I appreciate that we probably speak in jargon.  So lots of the work and, certainly, that – there was – I was in a broad number of schools so this is a broad sort of capture of what that work was about, but supporting principals to understand the learning needs of students with autism and how to best cater for them at a whole school level, but also then working with – at the classroom teacher level as well, and coaching and skilling them about how to transform their pedagogy and their practice to ensure that that student with autism is successful in the day-to-day six hour delivery of curriculum.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  So it’s about working out what kind of adjustments might be necessary?

MS SWANCUTT:   Absolutely and problem solving those, yes. 

DR MELLIFONT:   And helping the school.


DR MELLIFONT:   Get those adjustments in place and working.

MS SWANCUTT:   Correct.

DR MELLIFONT:   All right.  Now, before I move off your background, you’re also the National Convenor of the School Inclusion Network for Educators which


operates as a network of All Means All, the Australian Alliance for Inclusive Education;  is that right?

MS SWANCUTT:   Correct.

DR MELLIFONT:   But that’s in your private capacity.

MS SWANCUTT:   That’s private, volunteer, yes.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  So – and you’re also a voluntary member in the steering committee for the Inclusive School Communities Project being facilitated by Purple Orange in South Australia.

MS SWANCUTT:   Correct.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Many people already know what that is, but if you could just briefly tell us what that is.

MS SWANCUTT:   So Purple Orange have been commissioned with some funding from the NDIA to advance some collaboration and support for schools in South Australia around inclusive education practice.  So to inform the delivery of that program, the use of those funds, they have created a steering committee which is – has a number of people from across a number of roles across Australia that help guide them in that work.  And I’ve also delivered some professional learning to those schools in relation to inclusive education, and they’ve actually recently come to Townsville to visit our school and Bowen State High School as well to see inclusive education practice on the ground in schools.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  All right.  I will start – I will direct this question, first, to you, Ms Swancutt, and then I will ask for your input.  Can you give me an indication of the breadth of type of disabilities that the school system encounters?

MS SWANCUTT:   The school system encounters the full definition of disability, as per the Disability Discrimination Act.  So people often default, I think, to thinking that it’s just about the verified low incident categories of disability that we see in our system, but with the implementation of the nationally consistent collection of data, I think it’s started to broaden people’s understanding of the scope of disability.  That also includes disability categories outside of those general six that we’re more commonly familiar with.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Ms Morris, do you have anything to add to that?

MS MORRIS:   No, that’s that is what it is.  The common examples are much broader.  They include dyslexia;  they include mental health;  they can include illnesses such as asthma.  Anything that may have a functional impact on that student’s schooling.


DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Do you have any further comment in respect of that?

MS KAUPPILA:   Yes.  We too have a variety – we have a diverse student group and their learning needs, and we cater for their diverse needs.  In – they don’t operate in isolation.  There’s combinations of disabilities, and we, as a school, are working and looking at a personalised plan in catering for their individual needs and support.  So we are a school that is an hour and a half’s drive north of Townsville, and we are catering for the individual needs and the diverse needs of the – the students at our school.

DR MELLIFONT:   All right.  I’m going to go one by one and go through what’s – recent years and the developments.  I will get to that in a moment, but I want to ask each of you whether you have children in your schools – and I appreciate you’re now – two of you are now acting ‑ ‑ ‑


DR MELLIFONT:   ‑ ‑ ‑ up from that position.  So students in schools which are part of your domain, if I can call it that, that meet the eligibility requirements for special education schools, but have chosen or the parents have chosen to stay within mainstream schools.  Do you have children within that category?

MS SWANCUTT:   Absolutely.

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   Sorry, just before you go on ‑ ‑ ‑


COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   ‑ ‑ ‑ could I ask you just to speak a little more slowly because we need to transcribe ‑ ‑ ‑


COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   ‑ ‑ ‑ and some of the language is quite ‑ ‑ ‑


COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   ‑ ‑ ‑ technical and, therefore, a little bit more difficult to transcribe than normal.  So just, if you don’t mind, just a little bit more slowly.



DR MELLIFONT:   So ‑ ‑ ‑


MS SWANCUTT:   Yes, absolutely.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  All right.  Is that the position across the table?

MS MORRIS:   Yes.  Sorry, could you repeat that question?

DR MELLIFONT:   What I want to ask you if you have children in your schools or children under – in schools under your domain that would meet the eligibility requirements to get into a special ed school but are within the mainstream schools.


MS KAUPPILA:   Yes.  We don’t have a special school in our district.  And we have students who would meet the criteria for special schools within our school setting, yes.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  I’m interested to know, then, how the needs of such students are able to be met within the mainstream schooling system.  Ms Swancutt, would you like to start with that, please?

MS SWANCUTT:   Sure.  There’s no straightforward answer because we’re talking about individual children that are obviously very dynamic as individuals, but ultimately it’s about valuing their rights and understanding them as individual students and individual people and getting to know their functional impacts and their strengths, their motivations, and their families and sort of being able to understand that holistic approach about them and then working as a team within our schools to address those things utilising, you know, the vast variety of experience and resources that we have in our schools to do that for any child regardless of a child with disability.

DR MELLIFONT:   All right.  From your perspective it can be done.

MS SWANCUTT:   Absolutely.

DR MELLIFONT:   I’m going to come back to you in a moment because I would really like if you can think of examples of examples of children you are thinking about and what you have done to them so we can actually get to an understanding of how this is working in practice.  Okay.  Ms Morris.

MS MORRIS:   We have students in our school that do qualify or would qualify to go to a special school.  They come to our school they – do you want me to talk about their needs?

DR MELLIFONT:   Yes, yes, I do.

MS MORRIS:   Okay.


DR MELLIFONT:   Really get a vision of it if I can.

MS MORRIS:   They have very complex needs, they have medical needs where they require such things as peg feeding, venting, catheterisation, toileting.  They attend mainstream classrooms.  Generally, if they have that level of complex need they would have a teacher aide with them, because the teacher aide will do the medical procedures in our school or in schools.  They are working generally because of their lack of ability to communicate on highly individualised curriculum which means that’s prior to prep or foundation.  And that work is adjusted for them in a mainstream classroom.  So they could be in a grade 7 classroom, they could be in a grade 9 classroom.  And their curriculum is adjusted so that they are able to access a curriculum on the same basis as their peers.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Ms Kauppila.  Did I get that right.


DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.

MS KAUPPILA:   There is a process.  So I am having in my mind a Year 7 student coming to our – to our school, and there is an enrolment process and prior we have experience days where we get to know the students and the families.

DR MELLIFONT:   Student days or stays.

MS KAUPPILA:   Days, sorry, experience days.


MS KAUPPILA:   This is from Year 6 coming into Year 7.  And I meet with the primary partner schools prior to these days.  We have in our district around eight or nine primary partnership schools that I work with getting ready to come to high school.  So I work with the schools but most importantly I work with parents.  So the parents we have already the credibility, we have the trust of the parents.  The parents work with – come and went to partnership, and I say to them that you can bring an advocate.  You don’t need to just be coming by yourself, bring – bring your advocate, bring your family, bring whoever you feel comfortable coming and speaking to us.  And they really say, “Look, we know.  We’re fine.”  So we start this process of getting familiar for parents and the culture of our school to reassure their fears, getting ready to access a school where they can have wraparound support from all within our school.  So we have the advocacy and it’s about student centre.  The student is the important person in this whole process.  The student’s voice doesn’t have to be verbal.  It can be electronic as well.  It’s really important in part.  So this sets the whole platform in getting ready for inclusive practices and being a valued member and feeling welcomed and supported at Ingham State High School.  So this starts – it could work transitions previously beforehand, the child coming meeting the classes and working.  It’s about the students’ needs.  Some students haven’t been into


regular mainstream classes.  They may go to different parts of the school.  So it’s working around and looking at the support that we can provide that student, and the family.  And how they’re going to get to school.

DR MELLIFONT:   All right.  Any particular example that anybody can speak to about – of a student who would fit the criteria for a special education school.

MS SWANCUTT:   Sure.  So I’m thinking of a particular student who had a verification of autism and intellectual disability and was also non-verbal.  He attended our school from when he was in Year 8 until when he graduated in Year 12.  He commenced that education in what was our pre-existing Special Education Unit.  But then transitioned in 2015 into our inclusive classrooms.  So by that time he was in grade 10 and he was accessing curriculum at a foundation or prep level.  And teachers very much planned for him to be there from the beginning.  There was never any question that he would not be involved in the rigour of curriculum and the delivery of their lessons.  So it ultimately started with the end goal in mind that that student would be a full participant in their classes, and so an example of that Year 10 science, chemistry, school – the students in Year 10 are learning to balance chemical equations and that sort of thing. 

And he still was very much a participant in those lessons by utilising some visual checklist to go and collect the equipment for his group to conduct the experiment, to take photos of the experiment taking place and then sequencing those at the end to demonstrate his understanding of what had taken place, using visuals to answer to yes and no questions of things that he would have observed during that chemical equation, supporting his peers to measure out the chemicals.  So it’s just about understanding and acknowledging the scope and sequence of the curriculum, and that we’re just talking about the same content at different levels of complexity, and that we can provide different access points for students to enter and participate in that same content together, and that he still had a very valuable role amongst those Year 10 peers doing that higher order chemical equation balancing work that they do.


COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   What about the assessment process for students?  How does that work in the case of a student that can’t ‑ ‑ ‑

MS SWANCUTT:   Yes, so the same process is forefronted.  So at our school every unit of work for every subject for every year level is collaboratively unpacked as a team.  All of those Year 10 science teachers, for example, would have gotten together before the commencement of delivering that unit and they would have been able to go through the curriculum intent and articulate what students need to know and be able to do for the assessment item for Year 10 and straight from there they’re able to utilise the scoping sequence of Australian curriculum to backward map to the foundation level for this particular student and then be able to modify that know and do table to reflect that variance in complexity and have an understanding of what his know and do would be at the end of the unit and work to include that throughout all


of that learning with, you know, a modified assessment piece or a modified way of gathering the evidence of his learning at the end.

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   How does that work in terms of the school reporting success rates, if that’s the way to describe it?

MS SWANCUTT:   Sure.  So in the State School system we have what are called individual curriculum plans that are recorded on our school management system called OneSchool.  For him, he would have had an individual curriculum plan recorded for science indicating that he is accessing complexity at a foundation level.  And that automatically talks to reporting.  So there would be a generated comment on his report card saying that he was taught in age appropriate contexts science but his mark is reflective of the grading of the foundation level.


MS MORRIS:   And that is right across all of our schools.  That is how we assure that our students access curriculum on the same basis.


MS MORRIS:   As their peers, the same procedures.

DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.  Ms Morris and Ms Kauppila, I notice you are nodding in response to the answers to the last two questions.  I take it you agree with what has been said.



DR MELLIFONT:   And would you have seen these things yourselves.


DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.  I’m going to ask you now but I will give you some further time to think about this in the morning tea break, and somebody will remind me to ask this again after morning tea, can you think of any circumstance in which a child might not be able to be accommodated in mainstream?  And I appreciate there’s some criticism of the use of the term mainstream but for the time being I’m going to use it.  Is that something you would like to think about over morning tea?


MS KAUPPILA:   Do you want me ‑ ‑ ‑

MS MORRIS:   I could answer that now.


DR MELLIFONT:   All right.  Well, let’s go.

MS KAUPPILA:   Do you want me to start.

MS MORRIS:   I will start.

MS KAUPPILA:   Okay.  Teachers.

MS MORRIS:   I – we have a range of students with very complex needs at our school that we cater for.  So I can’t say that any of those students are not able to achieve their education in our school.


MS MORRIS:   So every one of those students attends mainstream classroom, every one of those students access curriculum at their level, every one of those students receive the support they require for their complex needs.  They attend all and participate in all school events.  And they are definitely valued members of our school community.  There is no – there are no separate places for them to go.  They attend school and the same participation as all students.

DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.  Ms Morris – Ms Kauppila.  Sorry.

MS KAUPPILA:   That’s okay.  It must be confusing for you.  I would like – could you just rephrase that?  Can you just say the question again so I’ve got it clearly in my mind.

DR MELLIFONT:   Yes.  What I’m asking is can you think of any circumstance or an example of where a student’s not able to be accommodated in mainstream, that is where a student would have to go to a segregated special education facility.

MS KAUPPILA:   Okay.  As I said earlier we don’t have any special schools in our district.  So all of our children attend their local school.  And in my mind I have a visual of a young lady who attended our school last year and who is currently still in our school.  So I contacted the inclusion HOD for autism, inclusion coach, because of the problems that we were encountering at school.  We worked with the large team complex case management.  And the parents and the paediatricians, and we worked together with this young person.  This young person’s life last year was one where she at home and at school we – they – we were having the same story.  This young person was, for reasons, working in a very isolated self, at home and at school she had withdrawn from participating in school events and at home. 

This young lady this year, working with her parents and working with her, and we have taken her on school camp, we are attending her classes, exactly what Loren said we are doing, she is part of the whole school.  The students are mentioning how wonderful it is to have her in class with them.  Her parents, her grandparents and her siblings are so excited to see her.  And we know that we still have a journey to go,


but it’s so exciting and I’m really proud and so are her parents that we’re accommodating for her needs at our school with wraparound support and that she is welcomed, she is safe, and she belongs to our local school.

DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.  Ms Swancutt.

MS SWANCUTT:   No, we’re the same, mirroring the other two schools.  We’re certainly welcoming of every child and it’s certainly within our capacity to provide for every child.  And we welcome that challenge and it extends our professional capability and we certainly learn as much from them as much as what we give those individuals.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  In one of the responses there was a mention of family engagement and in some of your statements you speak about this.  How important is family engagement to the success of the student and of the school.  Ms Morris do you want to start.  Ms Kauppila do you want to start?  I am going to have to get you tags.

MS KAUPPILA:   I value family engagement carers – we have out of home care students.  We value and it’s a partnership.  So we listen.  We provide access for them to meet.  We make sure that, you know, in advance that we can meet.  We let them know, so when we had this complex – these are the questions that we’re going to ask as a family, you may like to consider this so the questions are given beforehand.  There is no preconceived idea what the parents are going to say.  So the parents are valued and we’re listening to what they’re saying.  We’re actively listening, and they see it as a partnership.  They – we have protocols – we have protocols of – of when to meet, how to meet and communicate, and I would like to just quickly mention communication.  We ask the parents:  how is the best way to communicate with you?  Some may want an email;  some may want a phone call.  Some may say, “Look, please don’t let us know until something happens,” or “let’s work together in a certain way.”  So it’s an individual family basis of how we communicate, and we’re proactive.  We’re active – we’re proactive communicating with parents.

DR MELLIFONT:   Yes.  Ms Morris.

MS MORRIS:   We consult with parents at every stage of the child’s education from before they come to our school.  We meet – we meet with them regularly as case managers.  Any decision that’s made in regards to their education is discussed with the parent.  They come – will come into a meeting.  They will meet with all of their teachers on a regular basis.  If ever there is an issue, all teachers will come and speak to the parents.  So they’re very involved in every step of the education that they’re – they’re – consulting with them and them agreeing with the child’s plan is imperative.

DR MELLIFONT:   Ms Swancutt.

MS SWANCUTT:   Yes, student and parent voice is very much at the centre of the work that we do as well.  We’re probably slightly a little bit different in terms of our demographic that we sometimes have the challenge of engaging our parents.  Our


demographic is one which has been disengaged for education for quite some time for some children, but it’s certainly not without trying on our behalf and without wanting – and every opportunity that we can, we are seeking that parent voice and that parent input.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Now, the next question should not be taken in any sense to be critical of families or carers because there can be all number of reasons as to why family or carers aren’t engaging or aren’t able to engage with the school.  So – but what I do want to understand is what are the challenges for the schools when you’re not getting parent engagement?

MS SWANCUTT:   I think the challenge is not having, you know, that full understanding of the whole child.  I mean, we’re obviously not in their home lives and in their home circumstances, and those situations give so much to that child and are so much about that child.  So – and it leaves us in a position where, sometimes, we have to make assumptions which is certainly not what we want to have to do.  So it is – it is difficult and it’s certainly a very important piece that we would like to have and would like to be able to champion and have involved with our students, but it’s not always the case.  And – but for us, then, the default is the child themselves.  They’re obviously there with us in our schools, and we empower them as much as possible to provide that voice through, you know, one page profiles about their strengths, their interests, what adjustments they think they need and they would like, and we work very hard to make sure that that voice is heard and communicated across all of their teachers.

DR MELLIFONT:   All right.  I see nods from Ms Morris and Ms Kauppila.  Okay.  Can – I want to go through, now, the journeys of your schools.  Now, you’ve set them out in some significant detail in the statements.  We don’t have time to go through all of that today, but can I give you the paragraph numbers from your statements so you know where I’ll be taking you to, please.  Ms Kauppila will be five to 21.  Ms Swancutt is eight to 27.  Ms ‑ ‑ ‑

MS KAUPPILA:   Sorry, what was my ‑ ‑ ‑

DR MELLIFONT:   Five to 21.  Ms Swancutt, eight to 27.  And Ms Morris from seven onwards.  I haven’t the last number.

MS MORRIS:   Seven onwards.  No problem.

DR MELLIFONT:   All right.

MS KAUPPILA:   To infinity.

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   Treat it like an exam, but ‑ ‑ ‑

DR MELLIFONT:   All right.  Ms Morris, can I start with you.


MS MORRIS:   Okay.

DR MELLIFONT:   So this is your work at Bowen, and just recapping, you commenced the role of HOSES in 2014.  Now, Bowen does not have a segregated SEP unit, special education program unit.


DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Just so – we’re still getting familiar with all the terminology.  So, in brief terms, what’s an SEP?

MS MORRIS:   A Special Education Program.

DR MELLIFONT:   And what does it mean?

MS MORRIS:   It means that a place – or a classroom – we use it in the sense of a classroom where students with disabilities went away from – separate from the main school classrooms.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Now, all students learn in mainstream classrooms at Bowen.

MS MORRIS:   All students.

DR MELLIFONT:   And in terms of implementing inclusion in your role, there has been a prioritisation of co-teaching.

MS MORRIS:   It has been a priority ‑ ‑ ‑


MS MORRIS:   ‑ ‑ ‑ co-teaching in – in the method of being able to ensure that all students can be taught in – in mainstream classes with their peers.

DR MELLIFONT:   All right.  Can you tell me how that works?

MS MORRIS:   So that works by – with two teachers in a classroom, but – let’s talk about prior to that.


MS MORRIS:   When we decide on the class make-up on who goes into the classroom, so that – that, we decided the year before.  So, this year, we will look at our students, a diverse range of students, including the broader range of disability and all the diverse learners in our school, and we will begin to populate our classrooms.  Then we will decide which classrooms will be co-teaching classrooms and that will depend on the diversity of the students in the room, and which other


students that may need support would be a teacher aide.  So if you had, for example – because we have limited sources – resources.  If we had a child with a very complex medical needs that would need to go – that would be in a classroom, they would probably – well, would have a teacher aide because they have the experience to do those medical procedures.  And then – so they wouldn’t have a co-teaching classroom, but students that required academic support will, more than likely, be in a co-teaching classroom.

DR MELLIFONT:   All right.

MS MORRIS:   So they are the students that will be working at different levels of curriculum at different year levels, and two teachers are able to support that through co-planning, co-teaching.

DR MELLIFONT:   All right.  So do you want to go back to that earlier step which is the choice of class allocation, not classroom allocation ‑ ‑ ‑


DR MELLIFONT:   ‑ ‑ ‑ but students allocated into a class. 


DR MELLIFONT:   What are you trying to do there?

MS MORRIS:   What we’re trying to do there is students that need the support of two teachers that need the adjustments are able to be in a class with two teachers so that they have the ability to be able to do that as a team.  It’s also about building the capability of the teachers to be able to do those adjustments ‑ ‑ ‑


MS MORRIS:   ‑ ‑ ‑ to curriculum.

DR MELLIFONT:   So you’re not just talking about students with verified disabilities.

MS MORRIS:   No, we’re talking about a broader range.  They could be students who – EAL/D who are Indigenous students who speak –standard Australian English.  It could be out-of-home care students.  It could be that diverse range of students that are on the inclusion and diversity policy.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  And so the aim is to provide co-teaching classes – well, would you like to have co-teaching all the time?

MS MORRIS:   Yes. 



MS MORRIS:   Right across the board.  Yes.  That would be great.

DR MELLIFONT:   But, at the moment, there’s not the resources for co-teaching all of the time for all of the classes, I take it.  Am I right?

MS MORRIS:   Sorry, could you repeat ‑ ‑ ‑

DR MELLIFONT:   I take that, at the time, there’s not the resources for co-teaching all of the time in all the classes.


DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  So I’m correct about that. 




DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  All right.  So you make a selection, therefore, about which – which classes will be co-taught.

MS MORRIS:   The selection is really about – is absolutely definitely about providing the adjustments, the reasonable adjustments that students require.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  What I want to take you to is paragraph 13, and you’re going to unhelp unpack some of this language for me, please.  So you have spoken about collaboration and co-teaching being signature practices across Bowen State High School.


DR MELLIFONT:   And then you said this:

This practice supports the guidelines of the P-12 curriculum, assessment, reporting framework including the whole school approach to differentiated teaching and learning individual curriculum plan policy and the student wellbeing framework. 

All of which have their own acronyms.  All right.  Let’s start with the first one because I’m drowning in acronyms.  P-12 curriculum, assessment, reporting framework, what’s that?


MS MORRIS:   That is a policy that we follow in regards to curriculum, assessment report and reporting, and there are guidelines that we follow and – to do with those for all students.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  What is the ICP, that is, the whole school approach to differentiated teaching and learning individual curriculum plan policy.  What’s that?

MS MORRIS:   The whole school approach to differentiated teaching and learning is another policy and guideline to differentiated teaching.

DR MELLIFONT:   So these are all internal documents.

MS MORRIS:   Yes, these are all underpinned underneath the P-12 curriculum assessment and reporting framework.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  And the student wellbeing framework?

MS MORRIS:   The student wellbeing framework is, once again, another policy that underpins the P-12 CARF.

DR MELLIFONT:   But local or – local policy or ‑ ‑ ‑

MS MORRIS:   No, these are all ‑ ‑ ‑


MS MORRIS:   ‑ ‑ ‑ Queensland State policy.

DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.  Now, you speak in paragraph 14 about leading the cultural change of inclusion by a number of things, and I won’t go through all of them, but can I ask you in respect of (d) which is:

Facilitating the professional development of the co-teaching training manual –

what does that mean you’re doing?

MS MORRIS:   Well, within the co-teaching training manual is professional development that’s required to be a co-teacher.


MS MORRIS:   And I facilitate that professional development.

DR MELLIFONT:   Does that mean you deliver lectures, reading?


MS MORRIS:   I deliver – I deliver the workshops, the readings, the training, the – the instructional coaching, the disability standards for education.  That – all that – all the modules within that manual, I facilitate.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  So that falls to the HOSES, or whatever terminology this particular school is using, to ‑ ‑ ‑

MS MORRIS:   This is a local – this is a ‑ ‑ ‑


MS MORRIS:   ‑ ‑ ‑ Bowen State High School training manual ‑ ‑ ‑


MS MORRIS:   ‑ ‑ ‑ that we designed.

DR MELLIFONT:   That – yes, that’s what I’m asking you.


DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  So what educational learnings were you given in order to be able to facilitate the imparting of that information and training?

MS MORRIS:   Okay.  So I attended Quality Schools Inclusive Leaders, an initiative of More Support for Students with Disabilities ‑ ‑ ‑

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  So that’s QSIL, Q-S-I-L.

MS MORRIS:   ‑ ‑ ‑ prior to developing the manual.


MS MORRIS:   And, within that, I developed my skills in all the manual – all the modules in the training manual.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Now, I think each of the statements refer to QSIL, and the more support module, but in terms of QSIL and the training you get under that, what are we talking?  Are we talking a week’s course?  Are we talking online?  What is it?  What was it?

MS MORRIS:   So it was an initiative to – for more supports for students with disabilities to develop a program, to develop professional development for leadership teams to understand the knowledge and understandings behind inclusive practices.

DR MELLIFONT:   Yes.  Okay.  But what was it?


MS SWANCUTT:   It went for two or three days, I think, from memory.

MS MORRIS:   Yes.  Oh, sorry, the time. 



MS SWANCUTT:   So the principal took along their chosen members of their school leadership team to the delivery of that professional learning.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Now, since the 2018 policy has been in place, what training, if any, have you received in respect of your role as a HOSE or Head of Department Inclusive Services to impart locally?

MS MORRIS:   Okay.  So we ‑ ‑ ‑

DR MELLIFONT:   If any.  I’m happy for anybody to answer.  So what I’m trying to get from the panel ‑ ‑ ‑

MS MORRIS:   Yes.  Okay.

DR MELLIFONT:   ‑ ‑ ‑ at the moment is I want to understand now – so for the people who, at that head of department level, which used to be called the HOSES, what training are they getting in order to be able to impart the knowledge and learnings around inclusion to the people within their school community?  So Ms Swancutt, can you tell me about that?

MS SWANCUTT:   Specifically, I think in our region, it’s the delivery of some inclusive education forums that the inclusion coach has been leading and then with our appointment to the regional roles, and when I was also the regional autism coach, I supported the creation and the delivery of those.  We also – I lead the delivery of an inclusive education café.  That happens three times a term here in Townsville, and I prepare the resources for other people like Catherine to deliver those in other areas of our region, and I also travel to other regions to deliver it as well which is a bit more of a casual gathering of professional learning for teachers to come along – sorry, I’ve

just realised I’m talking really fast – and pose problems of practice or challenges of practice that they voice themselves, and that then we address through some professional learning for them and opportunities to network coach and overcome sort of those issues.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  So – we will come back to it in a second.  The inclusive – the inclusion café.

MS SWANCUTT:   Inclusive education café, yes.

DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.  So that’s something you created and developed.


MS SWANCUTT:   Yes, that’s correct.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  The inclusive education forums is something that comes from higher up the hierarchy.

MS SWANCUTT:   The regional inclusion coach commenced those, correct.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  How often are they held?

MS SWANCUTT:   Quite frequently.  At least once a term.


MS SWANCUTT:   To ensure we’re able to cover the range of principal and leadership teams across our region.  They go out on the road to other parts of our region but also here in Townsville of course.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  So who gets to go?

MS SWANCUTT:   The regional inclusion coach is the main person but then we also go in supporting roles to help her deliver that content as well.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  So I am trying to get the two pieces of the puzzle.  So it’s the regional inclusion – inclusive coach.  There’s people who are in your acting positions.

MS SWANCUTT:   Yes, in other regional roles, “I’m delivering this, can you come and support some delivery of that.”  And it’s just about scheduling and, you know, people’s calendars and things.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  That’s one piece of the jigsaw puzzle but who from the school wants to go.

MS SWANCUTT:   Anyone the principal wants to send along.  It gets send out as an expression of interest to all principals to send any staff that they would like to attend.

DR MELLIFONT:   How long does it go for?


DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Ms Morris, you were going to say something.

MS MORRIS:   I was going to say that in our roles as HOSES of inclusion we present those forums with the inclusion coach.

DR MELLIFONT:   To the staff?


MS MORRIS:   To the staff that come from across the region.

DR MELLIFONT:   All right.  Have you been to the Inclusive Education Forum?

MS MORRIS:   Yes, I’ve been to one.  I’ve presented at one.  And we present them now with the inclusion coach.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Ms Kauppila.

MS KAUPPILA:   Thank you.  I would like to say two – I’ve attended two State conferences.


MS KAUPPILA:   And they have been two, three days off the top of my head.  And the inclusion policies coming out, the Deloitte’s was mentioned there, and so the starting of the reform.  From there, it is now taken to a regional basis where we have the inclusion HOD and the inclusion coach and we attend a day with the principal and with other staff members who wish to attend, and we will have information given to us there.  We then go back to our schools and in our school we have professional learning communities, and we have time where I then deliver.  And we’ve been given vignettes, we’ve been given resources about what’s happening with inclusive practices and moving forward.  So we deliver those there.  I do my own professional learning.  I’m involved in global book studies on professional learning in inclusive practices.  I follow Twitter – Twitter which I then send out professionally.  And we, as a school, do our own book studies in developing our own professional learning.


COMMISSIONER ATKINSON:   May I interrupt with a question.

DR MELLIFONT:   Of course.

COMMISSIONER ATKINSON:   One of my experiences in my professional past is that the people who volunteer to come aren’t always all the people you need to have the impact on.  And you said that the principals choose or people volunteer.  How do you reach the people who might be slightly less enthusiastic about inclusion?


COMMISSIONER ATKINSON:   Than obviously you are.

MS SWANCUTT:   Yes.  So that’s always.

COMMISSIONER ATKINSON:   If I can put it in a nice way.


MS SWANCUTT:   That’s always the challenge and often to those events you’re certainly right the people who are already in roles like ourselves they often come along or special education teachers.  I guess that’s why we also – I developed the inclusive education café.  So it’s an after-school event that requires no commitment on behalf of anybody.  You can come if you want to come and you don’t have to if you don’t want to.  And we host that at a variety of schools in our region too.  So often, the school that we’re hosting it at for that day, people will – will come in who wouldn’t normally come along to those things, and because it’s more of a casual and relaxed atmosphere and it’s professional learning borne directly out of their own direct questioning, we’re certainly seeing a lot more commitment and uptake of people that don’t generally come along to the other more formal learnings that we offer. 

This semester we’ve also developed a suite of web conferences that we deliver over – over the internet that people, again, don’t have to even acknowledge that they are listening to or watching.  And so we certainly know that people are tuning into those as well.  So we’re always, you know, creatively thinking of ways that we can reach a broader range of staff in our department.


COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   I think Commissioner Mason has a question she would like to ask.

COMMISSIONER MASON:   I was interested in the comment about there are parents in a demographic that struggle.


COMMISSIONER MASON:   ‑ ‑ ‑ to engage with the school and therefore it has a flow-on effect with the engagement with their child.  I’m particularly interested in First Nation parents.  Is there an avenue – a gathering conference which brings together parents, schools, but also leaders from that First Nations service sector to talk specifically about disabled First Nations children and issues around disengagement and around the fear of engaging particularly around diagnosed disability but also potentially undiagnosed disability.

MS SWANCUTT:   Yes.  I raised that as a point in my statement as well around the acknowledgement of – of culture and how disability is thought about in different cultures in our school.  Certainly is something that we’re very aware of in the demographic of our school.  We’re very lucky at our school that we have the engagement of Clontarf and STARS, two federally funded programs that are placed in schools to support the engagement of young Indigenous men and young Indigenous girls.  And they certainly work in strong collaboration with us teaching staff in relation to engaging families.  We also have community education counsellors and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teacher aides and support personnel in our school as well, and we are very much in collaboration with those,


and are very respectful of how we interact with our families from different cultures, absolutely.

COMMISSIONER GALBALLY:   If I could just clarify ‑ ‑ ‑

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   Sorry, you wanted to say something.  I’m sorry.

MS KAUPPILA:   I wanted add in our case at Ingham State High School too that we have the CEC in operation as well but we have the wraparound support and we’re running the ARTIE program and we’re part of the ARTIE program and that’s looking at and assisting students coming to school and working with parents through the ARTIE program.

COMMISSIONER MASON:   Sorry, what was the name of the program.

MS KAUPPILA:  Artie, as in Arthur Beetson.  It’s Former State of Origin Greats, so it’s called the ARTIE program.  It’s spelt A-R-T-I-E.


MS KAUPPILA:   Yes, so we’re working and then through negotiation because some people don’t have phones or credit or a vehicle, we go with our CEC and go and do home visits which is negotiated wherever that would be.  You know, it may not be at the home, it might be in other arranged areas as well.

COMMISSIONER GALBALLY:   With co-teaching and even the definition of the inclusive school, you’re meaning the full diversity.


COMMISSIONER GALBALLY:   I just wanted to clarify that.  And then I had a second question about parents, that – and you may be going to come to this, and if you are I won’t ‑ ‑ ‑

DR MELLIFONT:   That’s fine.  Go ahead.

COMMISSIONER GALBALLY:   But in the transition from a special, you know, sort of unit into an inclusive school, parental expectations, you know, has anyone had experience of really bringing parents with you on the journey where they may have been quite fearful and understandably, you know, really worried about it and resistant to it.





DR MELLIFONT:   All right.  Who would like to start?  Ms Morris.

MS MORRIS:   Yes.  When we first were doing our action plan and speaking and making moves towards all students being in mainstream classrooms, we met with parents before – at the end of that – of – at the end of 2013 when we were going to go into a fully inclusive model in 2014.  They were very concerned, some parents, some of their – their children had never been – had always been in a unit, and they were scared, really, of them being in a mainstream setting, scared of, perhaps, being bullied and not being able to cope.  So we had to meet regularly with them and reassure them that we would be able to give the same support, the same social and emotional support that we would if they were in a unit, which we did.  And over time, that – they became a lot more comfortable and data and experience showed that the children were very successful, and their social and emotional well-being was healthy and well.  And we don’t have that – that concern any more from any parents.  We did have a student that came from a special school to our school, and her parents were very concerned to begin with, her family.  But over time, once again, they became very comfortable and pleased beyond, really, at her success in a mainstream school.  She – she moved from being a not very confident student to an extremely confident young lady who was very successful member of our school.

MS KAUPPILA:   I’ve had the same experiences where I’ve had students come from special schools to our school, and parents feeling fear and the conversation just recently is that she would like to say that we all need to be covered in gold and that she is holding us in the highest esteem, this parent who is a carer of out-of-home care.  Her young person attends school with his peers.  He goes to school camp.  He goes to the school social.  He’s out with all his mates and his communication and his body language and his growth is just amazing, and when he walks down the street, because we’re a little town, everybody says his name and says hello.  She doesn’t know who these people are but she knows that they must go to Ingham State High School because they stop and say hello to him.

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   We heard yesterday from Dr Mann who conducted a study – I don’t know whether you followed that evidence – as to why parents might withdraw children from mainstream schools and send them to special schools.  Have any – have you had any experience of parents withdrawing children from the mainstream schools with which you are associated?




MS MORRIS:   We don’t have a special school where we live in Bowen, but I’ve never experienced that.

MS KAUPPILA:   No, and I don’t have – no.


MS SWANCUTT:   We do but no, we haven’t.

DR MELLIFONT:   Ms Swancutt, did you want to add anything to the response to Commissioner Galbally’s question.

MS SWANCUTT:   No, just mirroring the same sort of thing.  Yes, we had parents of students who were in our previous special education unit who had engaged in their entire schooling in a special education unit.  So you can obviously understand that – that they’re quite nervous about proposed changes.  But for us, it was just about being able to provide information to them about what it would actually look like, their angst was more about not understanding what inclusive education actually meant, and what the support would look like for their child. 

So we spent, you know, a course of six months very thoroughly and systematically planning for the change in what we did and we ensured that we engaged with parents throughout that entire process, as we did with our staff.  And we were willing to sit in that space to ensure that people were confident with the decisions being made and that they did understand what we were talking about.  We did have some parents who, you know, really needed the opportunity to sort of see it to fully understand it, and were still quite anxious in the beginning of 2015 when we first launched into inclusive classrooms, but, again, very quickly within a week or two once they saw the success and the happiness of their child and had their own child’s voice about never wanting to return to what was before, and those children going on to be incredibly successful in our school has now allowed those parents who openly see us out in the community to say that they are our biggest advocates and they thank us very much for the work that ended up occurring at our school.

DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.  I want to come back to the topic of departmentally imposed – I don’t mean that in a bad sense – requirements for training of heads of department.  And acknowledging, as Ms McMillan acknowledged for the State, that we are in its infancy in terms of inclusive policy.  I just want to – I just want to get the metes and bounds of what it is the Department says you have to do by way of training as a head of department.

MS SWANCUTT:   To my knowledge, there is no mandated training.  I believe that the proficiency of teaching staff and heads of department and their professional learning is the responsibility of the school and the principal to ensure that staff have the capability to fulfil the roles that they are appointed to.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Ms Morris, do you have any different ‑ ‑ ‑


DR MELLIFONT:   ‑ ‑ ‑ answer to that?  And that was really directed to your role as the current role as acting regional.



DR MELLIFONT:   Did you have any observations at your level in respect of any other mandate?


DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  So am I correct in understanding – and I take this from the position descriptions to each of the Heads of Special Education Services, that the only mandatory requirement for that position is current for registration or current provisional registration with eligibility for full registration as a teacher in Queensland?

MS SWANCUTT:   Correct.  I believe that to be so, yes.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  I’m going to ask the question Commissioner Atkinson asked, but I’m not going to ask it as nicely.  In your – and this is directed in your current roles as acting.  Are there teachers who may be pushing back against the notion of inclusion who are able to slip through the gaps?

MS SWANCUTT:   Yes, there would be, yes.

DR MELLIFONT:   What ‑ ‑ ‑

MS MORRIS:   They don’t speak to me about that, but ‑ ‑ ‑

MS SWANCUTT:   Observed practice would suggest that, yes, there are – there are teachers that are resisting ‑ ‑ ‑

DR MELLIFONT:   But what’s that mean?

MS SWANCUTT:   ‑ ‑ ‑ diversity in their classrooms.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  What’s an observed practice which would indicate that?

MS SWANCUTT:   I spoke before about forward planning to ensure that every child is included.  So I’ve perhaps seen lessons where, you know, that they’re taught to the middle of the class, for example, and that individualised adjustments aren’t necessarily forefronted and planned for and, therefore, the child cannot successfully engage in lessons, and that they defer, I suppose, that responsibility to other adults who may be in the classroom or who may be in the school to come and sit with or deliver learning to children.


COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   Can I put the question perhaps in a slightly different way.  You are each obviously very dedicated and very successful in what you’ve been doing.  Across the board, how successful, in your judgment, has the


policy of inclusive education been in the areas with which you’re familiar or, indeed, in Queensland in general?

MS KAUPPILA:   Can I answer that.


MS KAUPPILA:   So within my school, we have – we decided to review our inclusive practices, and we requested an outside person to come and review our practices, and we used a – an auditing tool called Signposts For Inclusion, and the person here on my left is the person who came to our school, and then we as a ‑ ‑ ‑




MS KAUPPILA:   I’m going to tell – thank you for asking.  So then we broke into small groups and we did it across the school, and there’s school A, B and C and there are nine domains.  We, at Ingham State High School, recognised that it’s a journey and we are in domains of school B and school C.  So that is across the whole school and we looked at it wasn’t just from a leadership.  It was across with the teachers and where they were feeling.  I would also like to say that in our recent school opinion survey, that, this year, in our staff, they recognise that 100 per cent referred to that we are an inclusive State School.  That we are, at Ingham State High School, inclusive practices and we got 100 per cent in our survey of our staff.

DR MELLIFONT:   That figure correlates neatly with the number of students who graduated.

MS KAUPPILA:   Yes.  Yes.

DR MELLIFONT:   As it happens from your school in that year.  Ms Morris, did you want an opportunity to answer this question?

MS MORRIS:   I wanted to speak – I did want to speak about when you said that – were all the teachers basically on board with inclusive education.  I would like to say that, at Bowen State High School, I believe majority are.  I believe that because – well, through conversation and through when they come to see and talk about the capability building and professional development that they feel that they need, and that’s always directed towards the adjustments that the students need in their classroom.  And when our school was reviewed this year on a four-yearly review, the reviewer spoke to us as a leadership team and said how – commented on the inclusive – our inclusive school, and said that every teacher that they interviewed, not one said that they didn’t believe that all students should be taught together in the same classroom.


MS SWANCUTT:   I should clarify that my answer was in response to my broader regional role and not my direct experience ‑ ‑ ‑


MS SWANCUTT:   ‑ ‑ ‑ at Thuringowa.  It would mirror the same because of the culture in our schools.

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   I was really asking, in part, about the broader experience.


COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   I understand the position in the school ‑ ‑ ‑


COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   ‑ ‑ ‑ you’re each associated with.  Are you able to say what the position is more broadly within Queensland?

MS MORRIS:   I can say that every school that I see in this position that I’m in now and visit in this position are engaged in – in the conversation and are engaged in the Signpost document and are reflecting on where they are as inclusive schools, and having conversations in where they would like to be and what their next steps are, and how they’re going to go about that.

MS KAUPPILA:   I can only talk from my ‑ ‑ ‑


MS KAUPPILA:   ‑ ‑ ‑ own personal preference and scope.  So I can’t add to that.

DR MELLIFONT:   You’ve each been told previously that I’m going to give you an opportunity a little bit later to tell me what your wish list might be, and you’re in a good position, obviously, to speak to that given your experience about how things are going and how you think things might be able to be improved.  And so if you have any thoughts that you wish to share at that point in time about how we might be able to bring those along ‑ ‑ ‑


DR MELLIFONT:   ‑ ‑ ‑ the journey, I would be glad to hear of it.  Now, we’re almost at morning tea, and I have promised that each of you will have an opportunity to tell the Commissioner about your journeys, but can I – before morning tea, can I ask Ms Swancutt this – and I’m not going to identify the particular schools that I’m asking about.



DR MELLIFONT:   But, as a general proposition, there is local autonomy in terms of how a school implements inclusion within their school;  yes?

MS SWANCUTT:   Correct.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Now, currently, in your role, you’re involved in supporting two schools which are not as progressed, shall we say, as Thuringowa or Bowen or Ingham ‑ ‑ ‑


DR MELLIFONT:   ‑ ‑ ‑ in the inclusiveness process.


DR MELLIFONT:   Is that fair?

MS SWANCUTT:   Yes, yes, correct.

DR MELLIFONT:   How far are they?  How far are they compared to, say, Thuringowa?

MS SWANCUTT:   They are currently still offering segregated classes for students with disability. 


MS SWANCUTT:   So, in comparison, we don’t offer that at all.

DR MELLIFONT:   Right.  So your statement talks about those schools being in:

The phase of analysing data, considering human resourcing implications, identifying school systems and processes that can be impacted first to support implementation, and so implementation has not yet commenced.

I just want to understand that language.  What does that mean?

The phase of analysing data, considering human resourcing implications, identifying school systems and processes that can be impacted first to support implementation.

MS SWANCUTT:   So genuine inclusive education isn’t achieved overnight by closing a segregated class and having those students turn up into a regular class the next day.  It’s actually far more involved than that in terms of it being successful, and in terms of those students not actually receiving micro-segregation within a regular


classroom which can still very easily occur when children are seated separately with a teacher aide within a room and taught separate curriculum.  That’s not what we’re aiming for.  So we have to appreciate that this isn’t overnight work. 

And in my leadership of the work at Thuringowa State High School, part of the success and the scalability and sustainability of that work is because we spend a considerable amount of time analysing our data and understanding what our current position was, and envisioning what we wanted it to be and very systematically planning and mapping out how we would bridge the gap between the two and make sure that we bring everybody along with us in a manner that would ensure that it would be successful, you know, not for one day, but for years to come. 

So, with those schools, we’re at that point in time where we’re actually looking at, well, what is our current story?  What is the current outcomes and experience of our students with disability?  How are they fairing in relation to their peers without disability?  What strengths do we have that we can celebrate and what are the gaps, and, also, what practices do we have in our school that we can start embedding this work into that will allow us to carry us from where we are now to where we need to be.

Because inclusive education isn’t just about, you know, one particular practice or five particular practices, and when people ring our school and ask to come along and see, you know, inclusive education in half a day or a day, I – it’s that little nervous giggle knowing that, you know, we’ll barely scratch the surface of being able to communicate to those people about what it is we do because it’s everything that we do, and it’s embedded within every choice and every decision and every system and process in our school to make it successful. 

So, for those schools, we’re at the point of looking at, well, where is the strength of practice in our schools?  How can we extend those – in those schools?  How can we extend those practices to ensure that they are quality and inclusive for every child?  Because every school has lots of good quality practices occurring, and inclusive education is then just about ensuring that those practices are actually inclusive of every child.  So you – you can say we’re a high performing school, but are we a high performing school for every member of our student cohort?  So, at those schools, we’re looking at what great practices they already have, how we can stretch and mould those to be inclusive everyone and to help carry this work.  So it’s in those very early days of being very considered about how this work is actually going to be achieved authentically, sustainability and scalability long term.

DR MELLIFONT:   So what I want to get a sense of, and I’m going to ask you this as well, Ms Morris, in your role as acting regional – I’ve got that correct?  Thank you.  I want to – I will ask you first, Ms Swancutt.  Why could Thuringowa get to where it has got to?  Okay.  And you’re allowed to say you, but I would like to know – because we understand that a really good Head of Department for Inclusive Services is absolutely critical.  So let’s just take that as a given.  What else is it about


Thuringowa that’s able to bring it to where it is now, which might give us an indication of what’s lacking or not there for some of the other schools?

MS SWANCUTT:   That’s always the question that everyone asks, hoping for, you know, the magic wand.  Ultimately, it comes down to culture and leadership.  The short answer to that question, I often defer to my principal who is very much a part of this journey, and I know that when he’s asked the question, he defers to saying me.  So, together, I guess, we have the answer, but, ultimately, it was a willingness.  A willingness, you know, and a moral imperative within the key leaders of our school to turn this ship away from something that we knew was not the right practice and to head into uncharted waters with nothing more than it being the socially just thing to do, and strong leadership and skill to bring along a culture of a whole staff, you know, to walk with us into that unknown and down that journey knowing that this is the important work and is the work of school improvement and is incredibly important for every child in our school.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Ms Morris and Ms Kauppila are both nodding.  I will start with you, Ms Morris, in your role as acting regional, but I will let you have an opportunity to give your reflections if you wish as well, Ms Kauppila.

MS MORRIS:   So the same.  Why Bowen State High School is where we are in inclusion compared to other schools?  Is that the question?


MS MORRIS:   I believe that it’s about the moral imperative.  It’s about the willingness, the same as what Loren said.  It’s about leadership;  it’s about shared and strong leadership.  My principal, we have the same shared belief in the rights of every child.  We believe in the – in inclusion.  We believe that every children – child can succeed and – but not only us.  So do our staff.  Most of our teachers that I know have the same belief and always have had, and are very proud to work towards that inclusion, the culture that we have.  We have – we are a school that does get a lot of beginning teachers and new – new teachers, and they’re very proud as young people to work in – in an inclusive school.  So they work very hard towards inclusion and have a – a really strong belief, moral belief.  I think it’s – I think it is the passion of leadership.  It’s the skill of it as well ‑ ‑ ‑

MS SWANCUTT:   Absolutely.

MS MORRIS:   ‑ ‑ ‑ to be able to bring people along with you.  It’s – especially in being able to show the success.  So, right at the very beginning, being able to show the success of inclusion, the success of each and every student helps to drive that and bring that and grow that into an even bigger and more successful thing, really, or inclusion or a heart that – that we’ve managed to develop as a school over time.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Ms Morris, any final observations on that before we break?


MS KAUPPILA:   I would just like to add that leadership and my principal, it’s very much – it’s our moral imperative and making priority of inclusive practices, and I believe that – we believe that every child can learn.  Every child deserves the right to learn, a quality education, the best that we can provide, and that the teachers – we have quite a different – we have teachers who have been at our school for a long time and teachers who may have even attended as students to our school.  But through leadership and through this high will that they want the best for our students and we want the best.  We want to be world renowned for inclusive practices.

DR MELLIFONT:   We’re going to break now for morning tea.

COMMISSIONER ATKINSON:   No, I want to ask a question. 

MS KAUPPILA:   Please do.

DR MELLIFONT:   We’re not going to break now for morning tea.

COMMISSIONER ATKINSON:   Sorry.  Just a question I want you to think about over the morning tea adjournment, and I certainly don’t want an immediate answer, but being a Queenslander, I’m aware of – and even my mother having attended Collinsville school.  So right in this area.  You haven’t got, necessarily, these as cohort students.  There will be a number of students in your schools with behavioural difficulties and some severe behavioural difficulties and some of that may be related to disability.  So, really, what I want you to explain is what are the strategies for dealing with that and does that have – does that change what happens overall in the school because that’s always one of the areas of difficulty that people talk about with incorporating students with disabilities where they have severe behavioural difficulties.  Of course, not all students with disability do, but there will be a small cohort that do, and where that impacts on other students.  So that’s the area that I’m interested in.

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   And a related question to that, how do you deal with the parents of students who do not have disability who may not be necessarily sympathetic to what you’re trying to achieve?

MS SWANCUTT:   Can I just address that one particularly right now.  We were actually, you know, preparing ourselves for – for that, for parents of students without disability to have some opinions, but, to this day, five years later, we still have not had one contact to the school in regards to students with disability being in the classrooms of students without disability.  So very positive for our school culture.

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   All right.  We now will break, and it is now, according to my watch, 11.32, so we’ll resume at 11.52.

DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.  Might I very briefly, 30 seconds, just indicate the plan for after the break.



DR MELLIFONT:   Which will be to answer those questions just asked by the Commissioners.  Then you will each have an opportunity for a few minutes to give us a summary of how your schools – what your schools have done in terms of the inclusive journey.  Then I want to move to address the barriers and challenges which you’re facing, and then I will be asking you for your wish list and also what you would like to see this Commission accomplish.  Thank you. 

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   We’ll resume at 11.53.

DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.

ADJOURNED                                                                                                                    [11.34 am]

RESUMED                                                                                                                    [11.57 am]


DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.  So Ms Swancutt, you had a chance to answer the Chair’s question about whether there had been parental or carer pushback of students without a disability for the process of inclusion of students with a disability.  Ms Morris, did you have anything to say about that, whether you had experienced situations of parents of children without disabilities challenging the decision to move towards inclusive – inclusion.

MS MORRIS:   No.  No.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  And Ms Morris.

MS KAUPPILA:   Ms ‑ ‑ ‑


MS KAUPPILA:   Ms Kauppila.  No.

DR MELLIFONT:   No.  So the other question was asked by Commissioner Atkinson in respect of children with behavioural difficulties and the strategies around that.  Who would like to start?

MS SWANCUTT:   I’m – I’m happy to.  Student behaviour is obviously something that’s on, you know, the cards for all schools, and that’s something that schools are constantly reflecting upon and trying to understand how they can address better, obviously for us our students with a verified disability once we transition to an


inclusive education model, we’ve actually seen decline in their adverse behaviours.  They, you know, have better social role models in their classrooms, they feel more valued and welcomed and, therefore, engage and participate at higher rates of achievement than what they did previously before we changed to that model. 

At a whole school level is how we address it, and as I mentioned before that inclusive education at our school is about everything that we do, so ultimately the answer to most of the questions around the work that we do starts at that whole school level.  So for us, it’s about quality first teaching and then the preliminary implementation of quality practices at a tier 1 level. ... a lot of emphasis around ensuring that the general operation and management of our classrooms is welcoming and inclusive of all of the students, and that we deploy strategies at that universal tier level to address and meet the needs of the broadest population, and then we can provide additional supports and strategies for students at tier 2 and tier 3 based on their individual circumstances. 

So for us, as I said, we’re a positive behaviour for learning school.  So that means we have very clearly articulated positive behaviours that we expect at our school.  We explicitly teach those behaviours weekly, the behavioural focus is delivered to the whole school first by the principal at full school parade on Monday.  We then deliver an explicit lesson around that behaviour to the entire school population on Tuesday.  And it’s reinforced and recognised across the week for students within all lessons. 

In addition to that we utilise strategies at the – at that tier 1 that allows students to connect and build relationships and regulate their behaviour.  We’ve just taken on board what’s called the Berry Street educational model, which is trauma informed practice, which now results in many of our classes commencing with opportunities to connect in a class circle, to check in with kids, for them to identify how they’re going in relation to self-regulation, doing a little activity that allows them to build relationship with one another and the teacher and to set themselves up for positive learning then throughout the lesson. 

We utilise brain breaks within our lessons to ensure that regulation levels are maintained.  Our lessons are 70 minutes long.  And then in addition to that, you know, in the other tiers we have opportunities for students to check in and check out and do other strategies that are more individualised for themselves.  So ultimately, the goal for us is to ensure universally that all students have the strategies that they need and that we’re not constantly doing lots of individual things, that we’re taking those common practices and ensuring they’re implemented across our school for all of our students because it’s all quality practice for everybody.

DR MELLIFONT:   Ms Morris.

MS MORRIS:   Bowen State High School is also a PBL school, so we practice the same Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3 ‑ ‑ ‑



MS MORRIS:   Positive Behaviour for Learning.


MS MORRIS:   We practise the same procedures.  It’s a whole-school approach to behaviour.  We have PBL lessons every morning in our form classes.  The language of PBL is used in all our lessons.  The Tier 1 approach that Loren is talking about is at a classroom level and the Tier 2 and Tier 3 when behaviours become more complex, become a student service process that involves guidance officers, HOSES, year level coordinators, year 11 HODs, deputies and parents.

COMMISSIONER ATKINSON:   Is that what Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 means.

MS MORRIS:   Yes.  So it’s different levels of complex behaviour.  And then each child has a case manager – each child with a verified disability or each child identified as having needs, intensive needs or needs and behaviour, needs attendance, a case manager.  So that would need – yes, the complex case manager and from that we will – those decisions are made whether we need outside support from perhaps a psychologist or medical, behavioural – more behavioural support from Regional.  So those supports are in place.  And each child would have a behaviour support plan and that plan will be activated and shared amongst staff to follow the processes and strategies.


MS MORRIS:   Thank you.

DR MELLIFONT:   Ms Kauppila.

MS KAUPPILA:   We have the Responsible Plan for Students’ Behaviour, and we have a level as well.  And we have wraparound support.  So we start with the whole school support.  We have a support services team who include the CEC, the school nurse, the youth coordinator, a HOD of student services – student services and the guidance officer.  Then we have my team who are the Inclusive Practices team, and we have the school structure of a year level HOD with a year level coordinator. 

We then – if you imagine it goes down through a hierarchy.  We have then our cluster curriculum groups, a year level teams, and then down to the individual teachers.  We too have a positive youth development program and we work on the habits of mind.  We too are a – have been to Berry Street with trauma, and we’re looking at – for students for self-regulation, and I would particularly like to talk about a student who has Tourette’s and has anxiety.  So the language that this young person may present you may not find in a school ground as you would expect, however his language that he uses comes from his disability.  And we recognise at Ingham State High School that there are behaviours that students display because of their disability and we work with family and we work with the teachers to recognise that that’s where that – that’s where that behaviour is coming from.


COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   How many students are there at your school?  How many students are there?

MS KAUPPILA:   There’s around 350 students that we have.  Yes.  And that’s something I would like to talk about later in my – my sum-up.

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   Well, if Dr Mellifont doesn’t ask you the question, I am sure someone else will.

MS KAUPPILA:   Thank you very much.

MS MORRIS:   Can I just talk about our training?  Our staff do receive functional behaviour analysis training and we also have been to the Berry Street training trauma practice as well.

DR MELLIFONT:   The functional behavioural analysis training – is that an internal training program or an external service provider?

MS MORRIS:   It’s a program that is part of our Positive Behaviour for Learning, and it’s a regional function or behaviour analysis which is regionally as a behaviour analysis.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  I want to ask each of you to assist the Commission in starting to understand the types of supports that might be currently in place for First Nations students.  Ms Swancutt.

MS SWANCUTT:   So at Thuringowa State High School we have a significant number of students who identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, around 42 per cent, which is around 350 students in our school.  So they are very much a significant population that are very valued in our community.  So as I mentioned previously in another question, we have the federally supported Clontarf and STARS programs.  They both come with a large number of staff that are there to support students to engage in education and also to support their families to engage in education. 

So they provide a lot of support to the students in relation to coming to school, the schools that they need once they’re at school but also about building that cultural understanding, valuing that in our school community, you know, and being proud of that, being proud young Indigenous men and young Indigenous girls.  And ensuring, you know, that they have opportunities to connect and engage with their culture within our school as well.  We also have a community education counsellor which I mentioned previously on staff to support in very similar ways as well and to work with staff around that cultural understanding and ensuring we are responding to and engaging our Indigenous students as well, and as well as some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teacher aides that are in classrooms with students.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Ms Morris.


MS MORRIS:   At Bowen State High School we have the Indigenous Community Education Counsellor who presents cultural awareness training for all staff.  Our staff engage in English as an additional language or dialect band scaling to produce individual support plans for those students.  We have an academic Indigenous mentor who works with our senior students to support them in their senior pathway.  We have Indigenous teacher aides who work with our Indigenous students in classrooms. 

We have a place called Bibrigu Yunga which is a learning place and that is where students and non-Indigenous students visit.  They have their lunch there.  They talk to the CECs and the mentors and the different staff members.  It’s just generally a place where they can do their learning, catch up with each other, have lunch.  We have lunch packs and breakfasts provided there through our relationship with Giradila.  We provide the lunch and the breakfast program.  We have NAIDOC, an all-day NAIDOC event that involves all staff and community members.  We have a cultural camp for Indigenous and non-Indigenous students which is about the Indigenous students sharing their culture with non-Indigenous students.  And just recently we’ve been involved in the Deadly Choices, we’re making a song about our – their culture and their – and their local community.

DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.  Ms Morris.

MS KAUPPILA:   So we have – we would like to have the question again just for clarity.

DR MELLIFONT:   Yes, Ms Kauppila.  What we’re asking is initiatives and strategies in place for current support for First Nations students.

MS KAUPPILA:   They’re embedded across our school and our practices but we have particular support for students and we have a team that wraparound support our students.  And in the support services team we have a HOD, who is a head of department, we have the CEC, the school nurse, the youth coordinator, and the school chaplain and the guidance officer are part of that team.  We then have case managers at a case manage particular level.  And as I said earlier, we are an ARTIE school and we’re working with FOGS and we have people come up and we work in that section and look at how well they are doing at attendance and they’ve just been away and had a great time together and that has developed friendships and partnerships there with the students.  We acknowledge that we have Aboriginal Islander ‑ ‑ ‑


MS KAUPPILA:   Thank you.  I would also like to say we have South Sea Islanders at our school as well.  That’s what I’m trying to say.  We have the breakfast club.  We have Indigenous programs.  And part of our leadership camps and part of our camp is that we have... rangers who come and talk about the cultural significance of the land that they are visiting and participating in in their camps.  And we have from the perspective, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspective from regional


where we have involved people to come and speak to us about correct culture and correct priority calls. 

Our literature is – we have a very close – we have a writer and an artist in resident through the year.  His name is Monty Prior.  He comes and does a wonderful job working with our students.  We then have NAIDOC celebrations which our students run and we invite the community, and it’s a celebration.  And we invite elders who we – to be part of a – of our NAIDOC celebrations as well.  But where my brain just went is we have at every school event we have welcome to country or acknowledgement to country.  That’s where my brain just went there.  And we have within our school a yarning circle.  We can go and sit at the yarning circle and these are all embedded in our practices at Ingham State High School.

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   You mentioned a school chaplain.


COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   What’s the role of the school chaplain.

MS KAUPPILA:   So the school chaplain works as counsellor and ‑ ‑ ‑

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   This is the Commonwealth – this is the Commonwealth scheme, is it, for chaplains in schools?

MS KAUPPILA:   Yes.  For my perspective she’s the school chaplain and I don’t know where she’s funded from.  So I have a school chaplain at my school and if I need counselling assistance, she will go into classes and she will help.  She will go with the CEC for home visits.  She will also assist with activities.  She will be a person who may go on the ARTIE program as a supervision.  And she’s a person run – working in the breakfast program.  So yes.


DR MELLIFONT:   I saw some nodding there from Ms Morris and Ms Swancutt.  So this is department-wide.

MS SWANCUTT:   Yes, we have a school chaplain as well.

MS MORRIS:   Yes, so do we.

DR MELLIFONT:   Is it every school or just some schools?

MS SWANCUTT:   I believe so.  It’s probably based on, you know, school size, I’m assuming, as whether you get one full-time and that sort of thing.

MS MORRIS:   I think we may share ours with Collinsville.


MS SWANCUTT:   Yes, we share – ours is across schools.

MS KAUPPILA:   Ours isn’t full-time.  She’s not full-time.  She works at other schools in our district.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Thank you.  Before we move to each of you giving the Commission a short summary of the inclusiveness journey within your own schools, we have got a map.  Now, I will just get one of my instructors to just take – it’s on the screen.  So technical.  Okay.  Great.  So the middle – the middle area, the North Queensland region – so we sort of see a light yellow as opposed to a greyish

colouring.  So the light yellow is the North Queensland region.

MS SWANCUTT:   Correct.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  So can you just assist me, Ms Swancutt.  You are a regional Head of Department – sorry, regional ‑ ‑ ‑

MS SWANCUTT:   HOSES, Inclusion.

DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.  There are three people who hold that position for this entire region.

MS SWANCUTT:   Correct.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  And Ms Morris – I’m sorry, Ms Kauppila, what sort of school territory does Ingham cover?

MS KAUPPILA:   Well, we go from out to Mount Fox down to Rollingstone, out to Forrest Beach, Lucinda and to the bay – see the top of the – there, that’s the base of the Cardwell Range. 


MS KAUPPILA:   So we go there – that’s where our school – our students come from.

DR MELLIFONT:   And Bowen?

MS MORRIS:   Bowen, I’m not really sure how far our school goes to.  We – well, we – there’s Bowen, and then there’s Collinsville, and then there’s Airlie Beach, Proserpine.  So they’re all very close together.


MS MORRIS:   So some students may go to a private school in Proserpine or Airlie Beach from Bowen, and – so it’s hard to say just what our region is.  It’s the Whitsundays, and ‑ ‑ ‑


DR MELLIFONT:   Sure.  Sure.

MS MORRIS:   ‑ ‑ ‑ we have students from anywhere within that region may come to our school as well.

DR MELLIFONT:   And is Thuringowa from the direct area of Thuringowa ‑ ‑ ‑


DR MELLIFONT:   ‑ ‑ ‑ your student cohort?

MS SWANCUTT:   Yes, it’s – it’s a suburb area here in Townsville.

DR MELLIFONT:   Yes.  All right.  Now, can I start with you, Ms Kauppila, to give a summary of the journey of Ingham in this inclusion process, please.

MS KAUPPILA:   So we started with the QSIL project and I came – there was two parts.  There’s QSIL 1 and QSIL 2.  I won the position of Head of Department Inclusive Practices in the second section of QSIL with the leadership, and then – so I came along.  Then we were given a principal who has moral imperative for inclusive practices.  We then drove the inclusive practices at Ingham State High School, and with the inclusive – the Department of Education Inclusive Practices Policy coming out gave us real direction and gave us where we were going.  And this provided the avenue for students to attend their local high school with the support, the reasonable adjustments required to work for quality education because, at the same time, the Australian curriculum was rolling out and the Australian curriculum then and the senior curriculum became quality education for all students, and so that was part of it. 

We started – we have ICPs which all work in that part as well.  So we have a building, and this building is a purpose-built building with toileting facilities and kitchen, and this is used by all students.  So if students wanted time – quiet time, we have one side quiet and, on the other side, we have people practising dance choreography.  So we take – we have that happen as well.  We have sensory breaks, we have movement breaks, and this is all built in part, and we work together as a whole school and we work in the process of advancing inclusive practices.

DR MELLIFONT:   Before I – before I move on, can I just ask you this:  your statement says that Ingham State High School has not decommissioned the Special Education Program.  Can you explain what that means?

MS KAUPPILA:   So what that means is that, on one school, you – when enrolling – and if you were a verify – a student who has a verified need through the EAP process, on OneSchool, there is the box to tick for SEP.  So the box is ticked and this assists with funding as one of the avenues for funding, and we have a special ed program ticked on OneSchool.


DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Now ‑ ‑ ‑

MS KAUPPILA:   And so – yes.  So these students then are without – it’s not a physical building.  The students are out through all classes.

DR MELLIFONT:   All right.  Does that mean, though, that all students are in the mainstream classroom at all times for all purposes?

MS KAUPPILA:   No.  At times, yes.  It depends on the individual’s needs.  It depends on the individual that arrives at our school on that morning.  It depends on the student, what has happened before, and are they ready for learning.  So we have intensive focus teaching sometimes and our priority is to be in classes, be learning beside their similar age peers.  So, at times, yes, but the majority full-time, all the time, learning beside their peers.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  So, sometimes – if I can summarise.


DR MELLIFONT:   Sometimes, the students will come out of the classrooms in order to have their specific needs met.


DR MELLIFONT:   But that’s not just limited to students with disabilities.  It’s all students;  is that correct?

MS KAUPPILA:   It’s all students, yes.

DR MELLIFONT:   So you have general access – general areas that – perhaps for chaplaincy, school community engagement officer, use of support coordinators, for example, which any member of the student cohort is able to access;  is that correct?


DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Thank you.  And a hundred per cent of students graduated from Ingham in 2017 and 2018 with either a QCA or a QCIA.

MS KAUPPILA:   Yes.  So a Queensland Certificate of Education or a Queensland Certificate of Individual Achievement, and that’s very much a Queensland part for the Certificate of Individual Achievement.  It’s about what the student can do and it’s a very formalised process in receiving this achievement.

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   What would such a certificate look like?  What does it say?


MS KAUPPILA:   So it recognise – so at the top, it says the student’s name.  It says that – it looks exactly like another person – another person’s QCE.  It’s the same format, and in under the five headings of curriculum plans that was designed in Year 11, it states what this student can do, and states – and is collected of evidence for them to use.  And then it talks about, at the bottom, the statement of participation and what they’ve participated in while they have been in the last two years of senior education.

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   And can that serve as a gateway to tertiary education?

MS KAUPPILA:   Not that one in particular.  However, it could, and it’s a rigorous event.  So I have students who’ve gone the QCE pathway – and there’s the choice, QCE pathway who’ve used then – gone into university and are in – do a bridging course to go into university, yes.

COMMISSIONER ATKINSON:   How is the introduction of external exams going to affect this?  Reintroduction, after decades.

MS KAUPPILA:   So Ingham High, we are at the front foot, as you would imagine.  So it’s called the Access Arrangement and Reasonable Adjustments, and it’s called AARA, and it’s from QCAA, and we’re following and we have a process, and we’ve been working – rolling it out.  So starting – we like to start early.  So in Year 10, set plan meetings.  We’ve spoken to parents about what this will look like in their getting ready for formal assessment and what’s available for them.  So we’re – we’re in that – we’re right in the process right now.  Did I answer that?


MS KAUPPILA:   Would you like further information?

COMMISSIONER ATKINSON:   No.  I guess I presume it might provide some added difficulties.

MS KAUPPILA:   Yes.  So there’s also statements on it that QCAA have talked about for rest breaks, where in the room located, if needing to – looking at the room, being at Ingham High, what does the sounds look like, what is it looking like, and so we’re looking at the reasonable adjustments for that.

COMMISSIONER ATKINSON:   I apologise, Ms McMillan, for bringing up something different, but it just occurred to me when you were saying that, that that might ‑ ‑ ‑


COMMISSIONER ATKINSON:   ‑ ‑ ‑ provide an extra ‑ ‑ ‑


MS KAUPPILA:   So we’re – we’re – we’re ‑ ‑ ‑

COMMISSIONER ATKINSON:   ‑ ‑ ‑ problem, difficulty, hurdle.

MS KAUPPILA:   We’re in that space right now, and we – yes, we’re working with you – with people and we’re at different various levels of the department in this area.


DR MELLIFONT:   Yes.  Ms McMillan is just informing me that she’s able to, in time, provide some formal evidence with respect to the question your Honour has just – Commissioner has just asked.  Okay.  Ms Kauppila, just one final thing, paragraph 15(a) of your statement refers to all students at Ingham State High School attending school on a full-time basis.  Does that mean they’re at the school at all times?

MS KAUPPILA:   No.  So what happens on a Wednesday morning, some students are out at work placement.  They’re doing traineeships, or there are students who have negotiated that – on their timetable, that on a Thursday and Friday, that they are much better at focusing, better – less distractions early in the week and in the after – and then towards the end of the week, that they would not be able to focus, aren’t easily distracted.  So with the parents and through negotiation, we’ve looked at off-site campus where we’re looking at Cert II in Horticulture or following their own interests in personal – looking at wildlife carers courses.  So we’ve looked at that as well ‑ ‑ ‑

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Ms Morris, you’re nodding.  You do that sort of thing as well at your school, do you?


DR MELLIFONT:   No?  Okay.  But your ‑ ‑ ‑

MS MORRIS:   Not at the moment.  Not at the moment, but we have, before, done greener farming project and things like that in partnership with community.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  And so, in your regional roles, respectively, that kind of alternate means of education is something that’s used from time to time?

MS MORRIS:   It’s not really an alternative means of education.  It’s more of a ‑ ‑ ‑

DR MELLIFONT:   I’m sorry, badly expressed, but ‑ ‑ ‑

MS MORRIS:   Yes, it’s more of a qualification.

DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.


MS SWANCUTT:   We have students engaged in school-based traineeships and, you know, organised work placement, and that sort of thing is certainly something that features in senior schooling.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Ms Morris, can you take us through your ‑ ‑ ‑

MS MORRIS:   Sure.

DR MELLIFONT:   ‑ ‑ ‑ journey at Bowen, please.

MS MORRIS:   Okay. 

So the SEP classroom or the classroom where students with disabilities attended separate lessons than the rest of the students – or the other Bowen State High School students was decommissioned at the end of the 2013 school year.  So from the beginning of the 2014 school year at Bowen State High School, all students with disability were included and continue to be educated in mainstream classrooms.  This is supported through co-teaching, adjustments, monitoring of student learning and support staff.  The school has a whole-school approach to support student learning, including students with disability, which provides a continuum of support with focused teaching and intervention at each layer.

Co-teaching is prioritised to provide support for students with their learning needs.  Co-teachers teach in one classroom, equally sharing the teaching and learning needs of all students through co-planning, co-teaching, co-assessing and co-reflecting.  Co-teachers provide personalised learning programs for students in collaboration with HOSES, case managers and parents.  Within a mainstream classroom, all students access curriculum at their level on the same basis as their peers.  This means that some students require an individual curriculum plan where they work at a different year level than their peers in the mainstream classroom. 

The leadership team – so Bowen State High School stopped using an SEP classroom at the end of 2013 school year.  After key members of the leadership team attended the Queensland Government, More Support for Students with Disabilities Initiative, Quality Schools Inclusive Leaders 1, a leadership professional development program written and facilitated by Professor Loretta Giorcelli.  The leadership decision was to align the SEP with the research and policies presented in this leadership professional development program on whole-school inclusive practices. 

The leadership team actively attended the Queensland Government quality schools inclusive leaders, more support for students with disability program, which developed the school leaders’ knowledge and understanding of inclusive schooling practices.  This developed the capacity for leaders to understand where Bowen State High School was as an inclusive school by using a schooling rubric similar to the Signpost that showed where you were and where you needed to go and what those next steps would be, and then we set up an action project to move our school from where it was to a more inclusive school. 


The action plan received consultation with parents, caregivers of students with disabilities and the Bowen State High School leadership team and whole staff.  It included the planning for co-teaching and professional development with staff to co-teach.  Teachers had been sourced internally in Semester 2, 2013, for the role of co-teacher in 2014.  I was involved in the planning process through collaboration with

the HOSES, whose position I shared at point two.  My involvement was to collaboratively identify the school’s inclusive practices using the rubric and to collaboratively develop an action plan to propose our next steps in 2014.  I was aware that the inclusive education model was to be implemented the following year.  I was aware of the co-teaching model presented and had read the research that supported this as an inclusive practice to support inclusion.  The teacher Educational Adjustment Program allocation for the SEP was planned to be used as co-teaching.  So that allocation for teachers is what we use for co-teaching, because that – that allocation is supported through the students’ individual profiles and that’s how we get the money, so we use that to support their adjustments through co-teaching. 

In 2015 I was then the substantive HOSES.  I attended along with the current principal stage 2 of the QSIL leadership professional development program.  This delivered a training program to principals, school-based inclusivity mentors, which is the HOSES, and classroom teachers responsive to specific needs identified by schools who had commenced their journey.  The focus for Bowen State High School was to enhance differentiation in inclusive practice in the school through co-teaching and to develop an online co-teaching training course for teachers. 

The principal supported the development of the training package by providing uninterrupted collaborative planning and research time.  She also provided ongoing feedback to the mentor and coach at key junctures of the developmental phase.  This training package is used today to develop the capability of teachers to co-teach in inclusive classrooms.  There was some resistance from teacher aides that had worked in the SEP for their entire career.  Their concerns were about being separated as a group into different faculties.  The concerns were addressed through mentoring, supportive conversations and a willingness to give it a go.  Regular meetings and support were crucial and the outcomes were positive with teacher aides enjoying being a part of the faculty – curriculum faculties today.  They use them as a point of reference to students to support other teachers in their planning about individual knowledge on – on the students that they work with and it’s very, very supportive and teachers really enjoy having that – that support.  That’s about it, really.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  I wanted to ask you a couple of questions before we moved to Ms Swancutt.  The SEP classroom was decommissioned as you said.  What has happened to that physical structure?  Is it used for something else now?

MS MORRIS:   Yes, it’s .....



MS MORRIS:   This is a learning place.  It is also still used for – because it has  disability facilities there for toileting, that – it’s still used for that as well.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Each of your statements have this paragraph substituting your own school name but I’m not aware of any schools in Queensland or elsewhere where Bowen State High School is used as a model school in the de-Commissioning of its SEP classroom and the implementation of its inclusive education model.  And I take it from each of you that you weren’t using another school as a model for yours.


DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  So for the record everybody is agreeing with that proposition.  So I think this comes back to what we were discussing before, is really about you in each of your roles together with the leadership team of the school sitting down and working out how you were going to do it as opposed to having corporate knowledge box of information as to how things have been done and were working in other places.  Is that correct?


DR MELLIFONT:   Do each of you see some potential benefit in increase in information sharing with respect to implementation of the inclusiveness policy within Queensland?

MS SWANCUTT:   Absolutely, yes.  Absolutely.




COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   Is the – is the effect of your evidence that each of you, in effect, developed your own programs independently of anybody else?

MS SWANCUTT:   Yes.  So in my personal circumstance, I engaged with a lot of research mostly from the United States and Canada around what inclusive schooling is and looks like and how it can be achieved because this was also predating the UN Convention and General Comment No. 4.


MS SWANCUTT:   So ours was borne out of a place of a lot of academic research rigour that was conducted on my behalf to ensure we were heading in the right direction.

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   Each of you independently as well?


MS MORRIS:   Mine was – or our school’s was through the training that we did get through more supports for students with disabilities but it was also the research linked to that program as well which was extensive and reading and understanding how that worked.  It was a very extensive program and we still refer to the manual and books today to – to guide us in that direction.

MS KAUPPILA:   So at Ingham High we engaged a critical friend when we started and the critical friend was Dr Loretta Gorcelli.  She came to the staff and started us on the inclusive practices journey and we then went into the QSIL 2 – QSIL 1 and QSIL 2 and so yes, through leadership – having strong leadership and the vision for inclusive practices.

DR MELLIFONT:   You’re speaking there about Professor Loretta Gorcelli;  is that correct?


DR MELLIFONT:   Did I cut you off, Ms Morris?


DR MELLIFONT:   Can I ask you one more question before we move to Ms Swancutt?  And it’s in paragraph 44 of your statement.  The part I want to look at is page 10.  Now, this is where you’re setting out your beliefs about how well Bowen is doing.  Can you – can you help me with this language:  staff use disaggregated student data – this is paragraph (c):

Staff use disaggregated student data including achievement ladders, attendance, effort and behaviour to monitor and plan for all students linked with –

Subparagraph (f):

The school’s achievement and engagement data is used to collaborate around allocation of resources to support students with a disability.  Teachers interrogate and utilise student data to inform their teaching practice and plan for plus one for every student.

What’s that all mean?

MS MORRIS:   Okay.  So it’s the assessment data.  It’s – it’s the A to E data.  It’s their attendance data.  It’s behavioural data is all used together to collaborate allocation of resources.  So when we were talking about behaviour and how we deal with the behaviour and the complex – complexity of some students, it’s that data that informs our supports, and how we support those – those students, you know, with complex behaviours or learning needs.  We look at – you know, we look at their A to E data and it’s someone’s not – they’re getting a D.  So what do we do about that? 


We need to provide supports, we need to provide focused and intensive learning.  We need to provide adjustments, we may need some extra reading, they may need to go to a numeracy program.  It’s that way of using the data to inform support for students with diverse learning.

DR MELLIFONT:   So you’re looking at all the information you’ve got for the student?

MS MORRIS:   Yes, yes.

DR MELLIFONT:   And working out what needs help?

MS MORRIS:   What they need.

DR MELLIFONT:   Is that right?


DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Ms Swancutt, can you take us through the Thuringowa journey, please.

MS SWANCUTT:   Sure.  So I was appointed to Thuringowa State High School as the Head of Special Education Services at the start of Semester 2, 2014.  Up until that point and for the rest of 2014 the school was operating a traditional approach to the education of students with a verified disability.  And that was that they were accessing segregated classes with only other students with disability and were taught by teachers who were employed as special education teachers and supported by special education teacher aides.  Students did move out into the regular school to access elective subjects but, again, remained as a group of students with disability when they did those classes. 

So when I arrived at the school in – in the middle of 2014, the principal and some of the school leadership team had engaged in the first semester with that QSIL program that you’ve heard my other colleagues speak about today.  And the principal is also relatively new to the school himself so was also in a process of looking at and analysing the performance data for the school as a whole, and it was identified that in some circumstances that data was underperforming and that we needed to do something about the outcomes of students at a whole school level.  But also that gave me the opportunity to review the data of the students who were accessing the special education classrooms and to seek their voices about their educational experience at the school.  And that also indicated that they were underperforming in the data as well.  So ultimately, that ‑ ‑ ‑

DR MELLIFONT:   Sorry, Ms Swancutt, I’m going to ask you to slow down just a smidge.  It’s usually me going too fast.


MS SWANCUTT:   That was the precedents to us at a leadership level to look inward at our moral imperative and, you know, to the quality of education that we were providing not only for our students with disability but for our entire school.  And come to the viewpoint that we needed to improve – improve that and to look for ways that we could make that happen.  So for me, I’ve been in pursuit of inclusive education for my entire career for all students that I have taught.  And in my previous school locations have acted in leadership roles where I was certainly engaged in doing, you know, attempting to do that at a whole school level in those schools.  So coming with that background and having a principal that was saying, “Yes, we want to do that work”, ultimately meant I, you know, latched on and said, “Yes, yes, we’re doing this.  We’re going – going ahead with that.” 

So for Semester 2, 2014 as I alluded to previously, it was very well thought out, very systematic process for us.  That’s generally my leadership style.  I like to ensure that what we are doing is evidence informed, is rigorous and has every opportunity to be scalable and sustainable across the school.  So we spent six months, you know, working with a professional learning community, gathering the voice of students, the voice of teachers, surveying people to understand unconscious bias, their opinions about the education of students with disability, to really get a solid picture about the current situation in our school at that point in time.  And then also to use that research to project and to imagine more beyond what we wanted and shift away from segregated classes. 

So that evolved into the development of a school-based policy because at that time we did not have the Department policy,  and an action plan to help guide us.  And then in term 4 is when we worked really heavily on forming a culture in our school that was inclusive to prepare us ready for the transition of the students at the beginning of 2015 out of those classes and into regular mainstream classes.  So by the end of Semester 2 – Semester 1, 2015, all segregated classes at Thuringowa State High School had ceased and all students of disability were now in regular classes across our school.  All of our classes in our school naturally – have natural proportions and, therefore, represent the entire diversity of our school in every class.  So on paper every class looks the same in terms of diversity and demographic differences. 

To support us in that process it involved us innovating and iterating practice in relation to the use of our staffing, the way that we planned curriculum, the sorts of strategies that we were using at those universal levels, the intervention strategies and ultimately offering multi-tiered systems of support within our classrooms to ensure that we would adequately respond to the diversity in our classrooms and make sure as Catherine mentioned that we were constantly monitoring data in order to ensure that we were providing the reports responsively that students needed and not waiting for students to fail or to retrofit those things after the fact.  And that sort of work continues to grow and strengthen in scale across the school. 

As with Bowen State High School we utilise what was our existing or still is our special education resourcing to the school to provide co-teaching across 15 of our


classes in our school this year.  We pool our teacher aide resources that come from various allocations and disseminate them based on functional impacts at a whole class level.  We assign teacher aides to a whole class and to a teacher, and they are there to support the learning of all students in the classroom as is the teacher is there as the responsible person in relation to the delivery of learning for all students as well.  So, yes.  Yes, you can tell it’s lots and lots of – lots and lots of things, lots and lots of processes that have continued to develop and gain traction.  Also, with the point, you know, that it’s – it’s never perfect.  We’re talking about over 700 students and 70 staff in our school, and so it’s – it’s always, you know, something we’re always looking to improve.  There is always work to be done and there is always things that we can do better and increase the fidelity and frequency of.  So it’s a constant journey, and I think if you think, you know, that you’re there, that you’ve hit the destination, then perhaps you’re not actually doing inclusive education correctly.

DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you for that.  Before lunch, we’re going to – I’m sorry.

COMMISSIONER GALBALLY:   I just wanted to ask you about the assigning of teacher’s aides to the teachers.

MS SWANCUTT:   Correct.

COMMISSIONER GALBALLY:   Did that cause any angst in the parent group?

MS SWANCUTT:   No.  So as I mentioned, spending time, you know, in the culture and informing parents, that just came down to actually having implicit instructions about what that actually meant.  So when you just say, you know, we’re going to assign a teacher aide to a teacher, a lot of us then walk away and make assumption about what that looks like, but having the opportunity to actually explain how that would operate and how that support would still occur for their children is when they become comfortable with understanding that.

DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.  So we’re going to start, before lunch, speaking about some of the challenges and we will continue that after lunch.  We won’t keep you after lunch for too long, but I will need you to come back then.  Can I start with you, please, Ms Swancutt.  I’m at paragraph 40 to 43 of your statement, and ask you to explain what you’ve said in paragraph 40 which is that:

Thuringowa would benefit from the allocation of time in the form of additional teacher allocation which would have a positive impact on the collective capacity for quality teaching and learning for all students.

MS SWANCUTT:   What paragraph number, sorry?




DR MELLIFONT:   Four-zero.

MS SWANCUTT:   Yes.  Okay.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  I just want you to, in your own words, as you’re happy to use them, explain to the Commission this challenge, that is, around teacher resourcing.

MS SWANCUTT:   Sure.  Yes.  So in the high school context, teachers teach a range of classes.  So a high school teacher can teach in excess of 150 students in a week because they can be teaching, you know, five to six classes of students.  So – and, often, across different curriculum areas as well, particularly in a smaller high school like ourselves, our sizing means that teachers deliver in a range of curriculum faculties. 

So in order – you know, it is very much of my belief that every teacher does have the capacity to do this work and to teach diverse classrooms well, but in order to do that, you know, we need to build their capability and give them the time in order to ensure that they plan well to do that, and that they are able to seek coaching and guidance in the delivery of it because it’s not necessarily something that you just wake up knowing how to do, particularly as we’re very aware that students with disability in regular classrooms might be something new for a lot of people, and teachers themselves may have gone through schooling without students in their classrooms with them. 

So, for me, you know, about resourcing is not necessarily about the actual resource itself, but the time that it can bring to allow us to operate in that manner.  So, you know, for example, two extra teachers in our school would allow 32 teachers in our school to have an extra 70 minutes a week of non-contact planning time which would then give them the time to come and co-plan with someone like myself, for me to go and co-instruct with them in the classroom, to engage in instructional coaching cycles, to help model practice of how to deliver to the diversity in their classroom, you know, to ask questions, to problem solve. 

Because, at the moment, non-contact time is three 70-minute lessons for our teachers and, again, they are teaching five to six classes, 150 students.  So we need to sort of find the balance at some point where we’re going, you know, to value them as teachers and as professionals and as people with the value that we have of inclusive education and marrying the two and understanding that the two both need time in order for people to do this, work well.

DR MELLIFONT:   Can I ask you about that a little bit more, and I will ask each of you for your comments on this topic before we move to the next.  So we’ve heard, for example, of parents having meetings with the teachers at the school and they might have an advocate with them.  There might even be an allied health practitioner there, like an OT, and that’s obviously all to help to plan for that particular student. 


So to get the teachers into that meeting, what does a school have to do in terms of making sure that classes are covered?  Are you ‑ ‑ ‑


DR MELLIFONT:   Do you have additional backfill capacity, or are people, kind of, massaging and the generosity of individual teachers?

MS SWANCUTT:   High school timetabling is an art and certainly not something that I’m yet to have to delve too deeply into, but I do know that we carry extra teachers in our timetable in order to ensure that we do have flexibility in our timetable to carry our own staff that are, you know, available to use to cover classes for those sorts of things.  But that’s also impacted, you know, by staffing, teacher shortages, that sort of stuff, but then it’s also the capacity to hire in relief staff as well if needed. 

But, ultimately, for those sorts of circumstances, the first port of call is with people like myself in the school would go and meet with those teams and collect that information, and then I would go and disseminate to our staff at times that are appropriate.  But if it is something that we want all teachers to be at, at the very initial meeting, then we certainly make that happen in terms of having them released off class to come and do that.  Or we’re very lucky that our teachers are, you know, most often, more than willing to stay after school or come early before school to engage in those sorts of things.

DR MELLIFONT:   And so, in that respect, to some extent, you’re relying upon the generosity of the teachers ‑ ‑ ‑


DR MELLIFONT:   ‑ ‑ ‑ and their personal time.

MS SWANCUTT:   Yes, but as a leader, very cognisant not to overuse ‑ ‑ ‑


MS SWANCUTT:   ‑ ‑ ‑ that reliance and, you know, to value and be kind to our staff.

DR MELLIFONT:   Ms Morris, do you have an observation in respect of this topic?

MS MORRIS:   Do I have an opinion?


MS MORRIS:   Yes.  So extra allocation for co-teaching is imperative to co-plan, co-teach, co-assess and co-reflect.  This would allow teachers to be able to personalise


and attend to any learning misconceptions or lack of understanding of students on a lesson-to-lesson basis.  I think that is what’s really important is the lesson-to-lesson basis of presenting or delivering a curriculum, and then doing a formative assessment and realising that there are students that don’t understand and that you need to be able to go back and reteach and have focus and intensive groups, and that happens – can happen from a lesson-to-lesson basis. 

It’s not some planning that you could do in the holidays and then – then that’s going to work for you all term or on the weekend, and it’s going to work for you all week.  There’s that continuous needing to reflect and assess and go back and – and re-teach and ensure that every student succeeds.  The whole school approach to student learning which we talked about before as a policy is the three- layered approach to differentiation, and that’s with the focus on intensive teaching, and that’s where it explicitly explains the importance of formative assessment and then those processes after that. 

So the – it diagnoses students’ needs and that is challenging for teachers in a high school setting where, as Loren said, they see students for three times 70 minutes a week and may teach a maximum of 150 students overall, including diverse learners.  The reality – reality is that a teacher is generally on a full load of six subjects with three lessons, three lesson classes per subject, including three spares for planning and correction.  This makes differentiation focus on intensive teaching for all students on a lesson-to-lesson basis unattainable even with a co-teacher.  Building teaching capability to teach students with disability requires co-teaching to build – that’s – this is more about co-teaching, but lack of time on a lesson-to-lesson basis and lack of capability has been recognised by teachers throughout ongoing consultation including surveys as a concern to their overall well-being.

DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.  Ms Kauppila.

MS KAUPPILA:   Ingham State High School, we have over staffed because it’s very difficult to find relief staff.  So at the beginning of the year, we over staff.  However, the staffing model for schools continue to lag behind the inclusive education model, for example, 12 students who are eligible for SEP allocation across various year levels, classes and subjects, and they’re engaging in the Australian and senior curriculum with reasonable adjustments.  The model of allocation of staff does not reflect this inclusive model of practice and the resources required to deliver the curriculum in this manner.  Updating the staffing model to reflect the reality of 12 students in classes across the school within 50 plus subjects taught by over 20 teachers would significantly assist in improving inclusive education. 

Updating the staffing model would assist for providing extra teaching staff.  The extra teaching staff would assist with building the capability and capacity of staff in catering for students, in co-teaching and supporting the students with diverse learning needs.  Additional included in this model would be an extra staff member who could assist with replacing the classroom teacher when meeting with parents and other stakeholders.  This would allow time for support of teachers with evidence-


based interventions and extra time requirements for meetings and development of resources for students who have disabilities.  This would be additional to the non-contact time already provided under the teacher’s award.

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   Since we’re into quasi-industrial matters, I don’t want to ask you about your union membership, but I do want to ask do you agree with the position of the Queensland Teachers’ Union on inclusive education?

MS SWANCUTT:   Broadly, no, I do not.

MS MORRIS:   In relation to ‑ ‑ ‑

COMMISSIONER GALBALLY:   Can you elaborate – just before we go on, can you elaborate?

DR MELLIFONT:   And – sorry, and I should just – we should just make clear that, in your responses here, you are speaking as individuals rather ‑ ‑ ‑

MS MORRIS:   Yes.  Yes.

DR MELLIFONT:   ‑ ‑ ‑ as opposed to representatives of the Department.

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   Yes, I think we could take that for granted.

MS McMILLAN:   And, perhaps, could we just clarify which position of the Teachers’ Union.  I think there were a number that were advanced.


MS McMILLAN:   Clearly, there was one that excited a couple of the Commissioners.

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   Yes.  Well, it was – did you happen to observe Mr Bates’s evidence yesterday?

MS SWANCUTT:   I was here, but recalling every detail ‑ ‑ ‑

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   I’m talking about the policy statement of the Queensland Teachers’ Union ‑ ‑ ‑

MS SWANCUTT:   I think ‑ ‑ ‑

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   ‑ ‑ ‑ which deals with the special – with special education and inclusive education.  If you’re not familiar with it, that’s fine.

DR MELLIFONT:   Perhaps we can revisit it after lunch.


MS SWANCUTT:   What was his, yes, position?

DR MELLIFONT:   I just see the time;  it is 1 o’clock. 


DR MELLIFONT:   We might be able to revisit this afternoon.

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   Yes, that’s fine if we want ‑ ‑ ‑

DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   ‑ ‑ ‑ to take some time to think about that or deal with it later, that’s fine.

MS McMILLAN:   Yes, thank you.

DR MELLIFONT:   Is 2.15 okay, Chair?  2.15?

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   2.15.  Okay.  There’s nothing happening in Melbourne today, so we can finish at 2.15.  Yes.  We’ll resume at 2.15.  Thank you.

ADJOURNED                                                                                                                    [12.58 pm]

RESUMED                                                                                                                    [2.15 pm]


DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.  Ms Swancutt, your statement at paragraphs 42 and 43 speaks about there being inquiry cycles that are being actioned with the support of the Acting Head of Inclusive Schooling.  Can you tell me what that means?

MS SWANCUTT:   Yes, so as I’ve alluded to in previous comments that the work of inclusive education at Thuringowa State High School is always improvement focused, we’re always monitoring the fidelity and the quality of the practice that we’re delivering.  So in relation to these specific inquiry cycles in my statement, I’m referring to that we closely monitor the data of our students with disability in relation to their academic achievement, their school attendance, that sort of thing.  And analyse that in relation to students without disability and do a gap data analysis to ensure that we’re providing an equitable service in our school.  So once analysing that data, we then go into an inquiry cycle where we can prioritise some areas that come out of that data as a need for us to act on and to improve, which then works us toward an evidence-based action plan around how we plan to address the gaps in that data which then goes into action review phases.  So generally, you know, semester or


annually we’re doing check-ins around that data and setting up our improvement focuses.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  And at paragraph 43 you say that the biggest barrier and challenge to implementing inclusive education at Thuringowa State High School that you identify is time.  More time is needed to invest in building capability to deliver quality teaching, and – if I understand – and learning through job embedded gradual release of responsibility processes, which I don’t understand.  Can you explain that terminology?

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   Ms Swancutt, before you attempt to translate that into English would – could you just slow down a little, please?

MS SWANCUTT:   Yes.  Yes.  Yes.


MS SWANCUTT:   So we know through research that some of the most effective ways to build capability of teaching staff is to do it in the context of their actual classes and in the context of the actual students they are teaching right now.  So we know that when teachers go away to professional learning that’s delivered off campus, that it has not as significant an impact when they return to school into their practice, and rarely scales from them to other practitioners within the school. 

So the most effective way to address that is to actually provide the professional learning alongside them in the classroom with the – with the students that they are teaching.  So in relation to this sort of an instructional coaching model process where a knowledgeable other will work with a teacher in the school, identify a problem of practice or an area that they wish to build their capability in, that directly links to the students they are teaching and the outcomes of those students in their classrooms, and then they will go through a mentee and mentor relationship where over the course of that instructional coaching cycle, the knowledgeable other shifts from being the coach to gradually building across to the teacher, then picking up that professional capacity and to then be able to independently implement it allowing the coach to then go and work with someone else and even that teacher to act as a coach for somebody else.

DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.  Part of that, if I can use my words, is learning in an immersive way with somebody else more skilled or more experienced?

MS SWANCUTT:   And actually applying the practice there and then with the children you’re hoping to have the impact on.

DR MELLIFONT:   Yes.  Ms Morris I see you are nodding.  Do you have any response in that respect?


MS MORRIS:   We use those processes in Bowen high school.  We use those practices for diverse learners for teaching writing and for our framework as well that same immersion or instructional coaching cycle.

DR MELLIFONT:   I think I misheard you.  Which framework?

MS MORRIS:   Pedagogical framework.

DR MELLIFONT:   I know it wasn’t p-e-t.  Ms Kauppila, any observations in respect of the comments just made?

MS KAUPPILA:   We do much the same.  We’re very much into inquiry learning cycles as well and working within professional development and having the opportunity for teachers to build their own capability through the inquiry learning cycles, yes.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Ms Swancutt, I’m going to work through the barriers you identified for the Commission and ask for other comments as we go through, I will come back to you, Ms Morris or Ms Kauppila, on anything we haven’t already covered off that should be in your statement.  Ms Swancutt, you have identified some current policies and practices that hinder the provision of inclusive education at Thuringowa.  And let’s go through them.  The first is some difficulties in accessing some specialist staff in a timely manner and restrictions on accessing some of these services for students with a disability who are not on an EAP.  First of all, what’s an EAP?

MS SWANCUTT:   Educational Adjustment Program.  So a verified disability.

DR MELLIFONT:   All right.

MS SWANCUTT:   One of the six low incident categories.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  I think we’ve already discussed some points throughout this week that a student might have needs but not sufficient to meet the EAP criteria?

MS SWANCUTT:   Correct, or that their diagnosis doesn’t even align to any of those six categories.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Can you explain – just expand upon how this is a particular challenge, the parts – part A of your statement there?

MS SWANCUTT:   Sure.  So the specialist staff such as occupational therapist, speech language pathologists, physiotherapists, aren’t located or based in all regular schools.  So, therefore, if we require the services of one of those members of staff we need to put in an application to access those services.  So there is a bit of a delay, obviously, in that process, of putting in that request.  And also many of those


services are only available to come and support us with students who are verified and not with students who are not verified.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Any observations on this issue, Ms Morris?

MS MORRIS:   No, I agree with Loren.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Ms Kauppila?

MS KAUPPILA:   At Ingham High we’re talking about the EAP process, a student who has significant ADD or dyslexia or reactive attachment disorder or mental health eg anxiety, depression, they’re not recognised in the EAP process as Loren just said.  However, at Ingham State High School these students are catered for and their needs are met because we’re an inclusive education school.  However, these students’ needs are not recognised through the EAP process which is one of the determinants of resource and staffing, and, therefore, we are using the NCCD data – we have the data, we have the NCC tool.  It exists.  If we implement this, the data will reflect the needs of the school and used to provide additional support personnel – for example, for full-time guidance officers or additional guidance officers and the additional resources required to support these young people with mental health issues.

DR MELLIFONT:   How do you use the data?  I’m just trying to understand how it plays out practically?

MS KAUPPILA:   So what happens is through the State process of the EAP with the six low incidences, as Loren just said, we use that for verification and we then have staff and resources on those students.  So through the NCCD process, the more students are recognised through Disability Discrimination Act, and we record those.  So at my level, I don’t know what’s happening with the data with the NCCD and for resources but I know what’s happening with the EAP.

DR MELLIFONT:   All right.  Okay.  Ms Swancutt, can I move to the next issue you raise as a challenge, which is some specialised human and physical resources are located at the State special schools which contributes to restrictions around access and availability to mainstream schools.  What does that mean?

MS SWANCUTT:   That goes hand in hand with my previous comment where I mention that they’re not located in regular schools.  So here in Townsville, the occupational therapists and physios and nurses are based in our special school here in Townsville.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Any observations on that, Ms Morris?



DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  The next issue you raise is that the data collected for specialised health support taking place in the month of November prior to the school year in which the resources to be allocated, and you have many students at your school that don’t enrol until the first eight days of the school year.

MS SWANCUTT:   Correct.

DR MELLIFONT:   So that has significant funding implications for you?

MS SWANCUTT:   Yes.  Right now we’re submitting data around specialised health support needs for students for 2020.  But as I said, many of our students have – are yet to enrol so I don’t know if or what or who has specialised health needs to be able to submit accurate data on that now.  Which means when they do enrol in the first eight days of school, some of that allocation has already been decided without them being included in that, which then results in us having to approach the region for additional funding for those students instead of having them included from the beginning in that allocation.

DR MELLIFONT:   So does that create a time lag between‑ ‑ ‑


DR MELLIFONT:   Request and ‑ ‑ ‑

MS SWANCUTT:   And I reduced amount of what they probably would have got if they were counted in the November take of the data.

DR MELLIFONT:   And are you able to give a sense of the time lag?

MS SWANCUTT:   Oh, no.  I think there would be a set date that it has to be, you know, in by after that day eight period.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Ms Morris, do you have the same experience in Bowen?


DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  And in Ingham?

MS KAUPPILA:   No, because we’re a smaller area and we’re working with the parents beforehand.

DR MELLIFONT:   All right.

MS KAUPPILA:   However – sorry.


MS KAUPPILA:   If we have a new student to the district we will have that happen.


DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Thank you.  Now, I’ve already touched on the EAP verification requirements.  We don’t want to double up on that but can I just ask this, Ms Swancutt.  You identified that the requirements can create issues, that is you might have parents experiencing socioeconomic barriers such as transport, phone access, medical costs and time when trying to obtain a diagnosis.  That’s an issue obviously for your school ‑ ‑ ‑

MS SWANCUTT:   For my demographic, yes.

DR MELLIFONT:   Yes.  And is it – is it – are you able to say whether or not it’s more problematic or higher needs in any particular part of your demographic?

MS SWANCUTT:   Not in relation to those cost aspects but as we spoke with the Commissioner before about how disability is identified in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities as well and how they identify and associate with disability, also then has an impact because when I come and talk to a parent about a cultural background about needing to verify their student with a disability, that ultimately doesn’t, you know, mean anything to them, doesn’t interpret well to them and there’s no real understanding from a cultural perspective about that.  So often they then choose not to pursue that, which is fine, of course, and also situations even with parents who do understand the process that choose not to have their child labelled or don’t have the means to go to specialist medical staff to get specific diagnoses, and that sort of thing as well.  The problem with that for us, though, in the current funding model is that 75 per cent of our additional allocation for students with disability is based off the number of students we have with a verification.


MS SWANCUTT:   But that’s not necessarily reflective of the number of students in our school who could meet verification but for those sorts of reasons I’ve just discussed do not have a verification.

DR MELLIFONT:   Right.  So to get your verification you have to have a constellation of a number of things?


DR MELLIFONT:   Including parent will?

MS SWANCUTT:   That’s right.

DR MELLIFONT:   Capacity, ability, access?

MS SWANCUTT:   Yes.  Medical confirmation for some of the categories, further testing around speech, language, intellectual functioning, that sort of stuff.  All of that can stuff can be quite foreign, as you can imagine, for families and even more so for particular demographics of people.


DR MELLIFONT:   In addition to that regional challenge with having enough specialists to do diagnoses;  is that correct?

MS SWANCUTT:   I’m not certain in terms of the health department.  I do know that sometimes for our students with autism who go on the waiting list receive public access to paediatricians and psychologists that it can be at least six weeks, but, again, that’s the health department not the education department.

DR MELLIFONT:   Yes, of course.  And of course it has to fit the particular categories that are currently covered by EAP?


DR MELLIFONT:   The other thing I just wanted to ask about this is you note one of the requirements is that the data gathering process is centred on a medical model deficit approach.  So why is that problematic?

MS SWANCUTT:   Yes.  So first of all there has to be indication that there is a disability and one of those categories, which depending, as I said, on the category, could be from a paediatrician or through school-based cognitive functioning tests and that sort of thing.  The second aspect of it is, then, the school has to be able to demonstrate a significant impact that that disability has in the school environment, and that requires us to talk about the impacts that the student has across curriculum, communication, social and emotional needs.  There are a variety of categories and, ultimately, the whole point of the document is for us to sell, you know, how much deficit the child has;  how much – how many barriers they experience;  how many impacts they have.  There is very little scope in there to actually talk about the strengths and the visioning and the motivators of the student, and it’s always framed in that medical model:  what do we need to overcome;  what do we need to fix mind frame?

DR MELLIFONT:   As opposed to a positive framing?

MS SWANCUTT:   Yes, yes.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Ms Morris, Ms Kauppila, anything in addition, or ‑ ‑ ‑



DR MELLIFONT:   ‑ ‑ ‑ any dissent on any of that?  No.  All right.  Can we move, then, to the NCCD processes.  Ms Swancutt, you note some challenges include the expectation of high school teachers to frequently maintain records of provided adjustments for all students captured in the NCCD and the expectation of high schools to collate records.  Can you just explain ‑ ‑ ‑



DR MELLIFONT:   ‑ ‑ ‑ the challenge?

MS SWANCUTT:   So with the Nationally Consistent Collection of Data, we need to identify students who we’re providing adjustments for in relation to disability, but not only identify it, but then also maintain records of us actually implementing and delivering those adjustments.  So, as I’ve spoken about previously, high school teachers can be teaching in excess of 150 students.  So being able to identify, plan for, record those adjustments, as you can imagine, can be quite time consuming.  So, again, it’s not that it’s beyond their capacity or beyond their will to want to do it, but it’s back to that time factor. 

The other aspect then for the NCCD is we have to make a decision about the category of disability and also about the level of adjustments being provided.  So in a high school situation, the student can see seven different teachers, and each of those seven teachers could provide a different level of adjustment to that child based on their individual subject area.  In PE, someone with a physical disability might require more adjustment than what they need sitting in an English class, for example.  And so we have to take that information and that data from seven teachers, and you can only submit one category and one level of adjustment for the child overall. 

So, ultimately, we have to average out the level of adjustment, even though it might be higher in some subjects and lower in another, for example.  And, so then, there’s time in that, obviously, to go and have conversations with those seven teachers, collect that information, that data, sit with them to all come up with a consensus of what category and which level we’re actually going to record that student under to capture the best picture of that student as a whole.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Ms Morris or Ms Kauppila, anything in addition or any point of disagreement?

MS MORRIS:   Yes.  I agree with Loren about the time that it takes.  The teachers that – that it involves, the amount of staff and, probably, that more administration time’s needed to upload the data and the evidence ‑ ‑ ‑

MS SWANCUTT:   Store the evidence, yes.


COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   Dr Mellifont, are we – how are we going for time, bearing in mind we have some other witnesses?

DR MELLIFONT:   We do.  We’ll be another 15 minutes.  And, Ms Kauppila, any dissent or agreed ‑ ‑ ‑


MS KAUPPILA:   We have a process and we acknowledge that Thuringowa’s such a larger school than us, but we, too, go through the process of what was recorded by Loren.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  I just want a couple – to touch on a couple more issues before I ask you the last question which is your wish list, and that’s obviously not the things you’ve already covered.


DR MELLIFONT:   And that is, Ms Morris – and thanks for leaning into the microphone then because we were having a little difficulty picking up.  Excuse me for a moment.  Ms Morris, I think that the issues we’ve covered in our discussions – Ms Swancutt covers off your main barriers and challenges. 

MS MORRIS:   Yes.  Yes. 

DR MELLIFONT:   Are we in agreement on that?


DR MELLIFONT:   Yes, thank you. 


DR MELLIFONT:   And, similarly, Ms Kauppila, I believe that we’ve covered off most of the issues, but one of the things that you identify is that your numbers are actually decreasing in your area and that that creates its own challenges.  Can you just explain that for us, please?

MS KAUPPILA:   So Ingham State High School is located in the Hinchinbrook Shire.  The population is ageing and decreasing.  And, as a result, the school’s enrolment numbers are decreasing.  However, the needs of students are remaining the same or they’re increasing.  The decrease in numbers of enrolment has implications for funding.  As a result, staff allocation, teacher aide hours and guidance office hours decrease.  The school applies for extra hours and use extra grant money to pay for these services.  Inclusive practices is a priority at Ingham State High School and the school does exceptionally well with the limited resources it provides – it receives.  However, additional resources, both financial and human, were included in the original allocation, this would continue to support students in their local schools.

DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.  Do any of you wish to express a view about the continued role of special education schools?  And it’s entirely voluntary.

MS MORRIS:   No.  Not at the moment, thank you.


DR MELLIFONT:   That’s fine, thank you.  Anybody?

MS SWANCUTT:   I don’t believe they represent evidence-based practice for schools, but I certainly believe they have their place in the department at the moment, but I would like to see a shift from that over time.

DR MELLIFONT:   All right.  Thank you.

MS KAUPPILA:   And I can’t make a comment.  I don’t have a special school and I haven’t been to a special school in nearly 20 years.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  We’ve heard some evidence this week about how inclusive education can change positive pathways, in terms of access into employment, etcetera.  Have you seen – yes, because you’ve now had some inclusive practices within your own schools for a number of years – a diminution of students heading into negative pathways?  Are you able to speak to that?

MS SWANCUTT:   Yes.  I certainly think that we have a lot more students going out to work and further study now, absolutely.  The success of our students continues to blow me away year in and year out of what they are achieving.  We have a student doing a Bachelor of Science at university this year who was once taught in the unit with curriculum five years below his grade level.  He went on to win the physics academic award for our subject in our school and is now receiving high distinctions in that science degree at university.  I’ve got lots of stories like that that I could go on and on and on about, but they certainly – and at our graduation ceremonies at school, the students walk across the stage and share with us what they plan to do beyond school.  And, now, every one of them, including the children with disabilities, and you wouldn’t be able to pick which ones the children are with disabilities, walk across that stage and share a hope of, you know, future employment, travel and future study.

DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.  Ms Morris?

MS MORRIS:   We have the same stories to share.  We have a 100 per cent of our students receive a year 12 certificate.  They experience work experience that they had never experienced before.  They are involved and study VET subjects that give them traineeships.  They are very active members of the community.  It’s very, very successful in – in what – yes, in their involvement in our school – in – involved in the same processes and the same successes as other students.

DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.  Ms Kauppila?

MS KAUPPILA:   Would you like to just ask the question again?

DR MELLIFONT:   It was about whether you’ve seen, even anecdotally, influences on whether students who’ve now had this inclusive experience been able to take


more positive pathways and, I suppose, importantly, diverting away from potential negative pathways.

MS KAUPPILA:   Living in a small town, you meet past students and their families, and they give us updates of what’s happening.  We hear the positives of what’s happening, going to university, working, being active citizens.  So, yes, we do.  We do see it, yes, positives.

DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.

COMMISSIONER ATKINSON:   Could I – Dr – sorry.

COMMISSIONER GALBALLY:   I just wanted to just clarify.  So these are people with profound disability as well, and that there’s no – do they move to sheltered workshops?


MS SWANCUTT:   Absolutely not.  So the example of the student I gave earlier of, you know, being in Year 10 science accessing foundation curriculum with autism and intellectual disability now independently operates a bobcat for an earthworks company.

COMMISSIONER ATKINSON:   So my particular interest, I think, given my background, is also the negatives – preventing the negatives.  So the evidence shows – or at least 20 years of hearing the stories for me has shown that a bad experience of school can be related to then graduation into the criminal justice system and a bad experience of life.  Do you have anything to say about the role of inclusive education in preventing those negative pathways?

MS MORRIS:   I think the role of inclusive education promotes a student’s social wellbeing.  I think that it – they become, very much, a part of a community.  They experience work experience in the community.  They make friendships, long-term friendships with people in their community.  They are involved in the emotional – the emotional – the economical success of their community, and I think, all around, that – that has a very positive effect against that path – that negative pathway that you’re talking about.

COMMISSIONER ATKINSON:   So you would say they’re all protective factors for preventing ‑ ‑ ‑


COMMISSIONER ATKINSON:   ‑ ‑ ‑ criminal offending?





DR MELLIFONT:   Ms Swancutt, what would you like to see moving into the future?

MS SWANCUTT:   So, as you’ve mentioned, we’ve covered off a lot of the things that were on – on the list already and that are included in our statement.  Resourcing, as we know, has come up many times, but, for me, as I said, the resourcing aspect is more linked to that time aspect around giving our teachers more time to do this work well, as opposed to just, you know, more money and more teachers generally.  So I would like to see some more strict accountability around how current resourcing is utilised in schools.  We know that schools do have a lot of resourcing and we’re resourced well, and you’ve heard today that we’ve been able, in our three schools, to utilise existing resources, structures to do this work well already.  So I think it’s just more around accountability of the resources that we have and, not necessarily, a whole lot of new resources that we need. 

I would also like to see more rigorous moderation around the choice and appropriateness of adjustments for individual students which links to what we spoke about in relation to the NCCD.  So, as staff, we’re picking the levels of adjustment that the student receives and that gets recorded, and that’s ultimately linked to funding, but, again, my interpretation of levels of adjustment may differ from other people.  So I would like to see some ambiguity around that removed so that consistency in the NCCD is actually consistent across schools and across states, even, and that the decision of adjustments is actually what that individual student needs and not just something that we’ve decided that they need, particularly when it’s incentivised through funding tiers as it is. 

There continues to be issues with the roles and capacity of HOSES and special education teachers.  We know that those role descriptions have not been updated for some time and that they actually still dictate that we manage special education units which, as you’ve heard from us, is not what our role is in schools.  So I would like to see that to be more reflective of the work needed to advance inclusive education, and simply assuming that special education practices automatically transfer to be able to lead and implement high quality inclusive education is short sighted.  We need to invest in building the inclusive capability of existing staff in those special education roles because, as you’ve heard us speak about, it isn’t as easy as just one or two practices in a classroom. 

It really is, you know, thinking and doing things from a completely different culture and a completely different mindset, so one just doesn’t equate to the other.  I also think we need to continue to objectively consider all practices that occur in the system level, and, as I’m sure you could imagine, the Department of Education in Queensland is quite a system with quite a lot of processes.  Just as we have, at our own school levels, to identify any unconscious bias and discrimination that might be


hiding in plain sight within some practices that we have in place and some policies and processes in schools because some of these can continue to perpetuate segregation and exclusion of students without it really having that intent but as a by-product of the structure that they represent. 

And we need to be skilled and willing to identify such practices in all of their micro and macro forms.  So as I’ve spoken about before, segregation within a regular classroom can very much happen and not just in those big obvious forms that we’re used to using those terms for.  So we need all people involved in the Department to be skilled in seeing those practices clearly and to speak honestly about them and to then act decisively to address them in our schools.

DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you, Ms Swancutt.  Ms Morris.

MS MORRIS:   I would like to see a needs-based resourcing that increases the allocation of teachers and specialised personnel.  Occupational therapists, speech therapists and health specialists, to support all students and teachers in mainstream classrooms.  I would like to see a resourcing model whose schools whose students require a greater level of adjustment and educational support to achieve learning outcomes on the same basis as their peers receive a greater level of resourcing.  I would like this resourcing model to be national so that verifications are accepted from state to state.  Having to get another diagnosis when moving to a new state is very stressful for parents and also schools.  Can I end on a personal story?

DR MELLIFONT:   Certainly.

MS MORRIS:   From this week.  Our school received a call from a parent from interstate who needs to move to where we live.  They explained their child’s disability in detail, which is very complex.  The staff member explained that we’re an inclusive school and all students learn together in mainstream classrooms.  She explained to the parent that we co-teach, and that’s how the adjustments will work in the classroom.  We will provide the adjustments through either co-teaching or a teacher aide.  The parent then asked if we would allow her child to come to our school.  The parent explained that they had been told their child could not go to certain schools in the state they came from and was unaware if this was so at our school.  The person taking the call felt a deep sadness for this parent.  They replied that we’re an inclusive state school.  We accept all students regardless of their ability, because it is their human right, it is morally right, and because it is the law.  The staff member explained that whatever your child needs our school will provide for them.  That is what inclusive schooling does.

DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you, Ms Morris.  Ms Kauppila.

MS KAUPPILA:   I would like to see several things to come from the Royal Commission including but not limited to the following:  continue implementing the Department of Education inclusion education policies with the review in 2021.  Currently, schools are at various stages of their inclusive education journey and as a


result they should review or audit their current inclusive practices in alignment with Inclusive Education Policy, using existing tools, for example, for Signposts for School Improvement.  An audit or review will determine where they are in their journey and where to next. 

Secondly, provide assistance to schools how to become more inclusive with real examples of best practices, state, nationally and worldwide.  Continuing to build the capability and confidence of the workforce to cater for the diverse learning needs of all students.  Thirdly, recognising school cultures that embed inclusive practices and partner with parents, family and carers.  A partnership with parents, family, carers with a student centred focus on the individual strengths and abilities.  A process recognising parents are the experts of their young people.  And schools proactively working with families and young people for successful outcomes.  Additionally, giving young people a voice, either verbal or electronic, for them to have a say in their education.  Giving the students the ability, confidence and mental health and wellbeing to have a voice and choice of the life at school.  The feeling of being welcomed and belonging to their local community and gaining quality learning alongside their peers. 

Summing up, I hope the outcomes from this Royal Commission find the continuation of the implementation of the Department of Education inclusive practices policy across all schools.  Finding the best practice of schools, catering for the diverse learning needs of their students and partnering with parents, carers and families with the student focus on young persons’ strength and abilities.  Additional allocation of resources, human, financial and facilities to continue to build the confidence and capability of a workforce to proactively cater for students with diverse learning needs.  An inclusive, safe, welcoming school environment.  Finally, student-centred education with the student’s voice and choice to maximise their learning outcomes in quality education.

DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.  Do you have ‑ ‑ ‑

MS SWANCUTT:   Am I able to share what I would like to see from the Royal Commission broadly?

DR MELLIFONT:   I am sorry.

MS SWANCUTT:   ... that’s okay.  I didn’t know if I was to continue with that part of my statement or not?

DR MELLIFONT:   Please do now.  I did say I would give you the opportunity to do so.

MS SWANCUTT:   So from the Royal Commission broadly, for students I would like to see their rights forefronted and acknowledged in a national commitment to inclusive education across all States and sectors.  I would like to see alignment of those rights in what we see, say and do with strong monitoring and accountability


measures to ensure upholding those rights is not left to choice or chance, but that instead inclusive education is a genuine default level of educational experience in all of Australia’s schools and one that is protected in legislation.  For our schools, I would like acknowledgement that visions and objectives only have modest capacity to drive change and, therefore, we need structures that provide very clear and contextual professional knowledge, skill and practice directly across school thresholds and into classrooms with accompanying evidence informed action plans and key performance indicators.  We need to demonstrate exactly what this work looks like and how it can be achieved. 

Finally, I ultimately want to light a fire in all who are associated with education to dare to imagine more.  We can’t possibly be happy with what we are currently doing because history has reminded us time and again that the segregation and othering of diverse groups of our own human kind results in the most horrific outcomes which linger for many decades and transcend generations.  We have known better for an awfully long time.  We must act with urgency and do better.

DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you, Ms Swancutt.  Thanks ‑ ‑ ‑

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   Ms McMillan, did you wish to ask any question?

MS McMILLAN:   No, thank you.


DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you very much for your time.

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   Thank you very much for coming and giving evidence.  And thank you for the thought that has gone into your presentations.  It’s a great pleasure and privilege to hear from people who are so passionate and committed to the profession to which you belong.  Thank you very much.

MS SWANCUTT:   Thank you.

<THE WITNESSES WITHDREW                                                                                                                    [2.52 pm]

DR MELLIFONT:   Our next three witnesses are three principals.  It might take a little bit of time in terms of logistics.  Might we have an early afternoon break for 10 minutes and resume at 3.02?

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   How could we possibly resist.

DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.


ADJOURNED                                                                                                                    [2.52 pm]

RESUMED                                                                                                                    [3.04 pm]


DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.  I call Pamela Prichard, Judith Fenoglio and Grant Allan Dale.

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   Thank you.  Thank you for your attendance.  If you would just follow the instructions of the associate about being sworn or affirmed as you wish. 

<GRANT ALLAN DALE, AFFIRMED                                                                                                                    [3.05 pm]

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   Thank you very much.  Please sit down.

<PAMELA THERESE PRICHARD, AFFIRMED                                                                                                                    [3.05 pm]

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   Thank you very much.  Please sit down.

<JUDITH ANN FENOGLIO, SWORN                                                                                                                    [3.05 pm]

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   Thank you very much.  Yes, Dr Mellifont will now ask you some questions.

DR MELLIFONT:   For consistency, we have situated to Thuringowa, Bowen and Ingham.  Your full name please, Mr Dale?

MR DALE:   Grant Allan Dale.

DR MELLIFONT:   And are you the principal of Thuringowa State High School?

MR DALE:   That is correct.

DR MELLIFONT:   Did you commence in that position in an acting role January 2012 and then permanently appointed January 2013?

MR DALE:   Yes, that’s right.


DR MELLIFONT:   We have your CV and we thank you for that.  I won’t go through all the details of it, but, in short terms, you’ve been in teaching for a significant number of years now?

MR DALE:   Yes, that’s about 35 years.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  And that’s in acting principal and principal role since 2008 to the current time:  Kirwan, Ayr, Thuringowa?

MR DALE:   That was a small role at Kirwan State School.


MR DALE:   Probably, my journey as an acting principal began about 2010.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  And that’s at Ayr?

MR DALE:   Sorry?

DR MELLIFONT:   Is that at Ayr?

MR DALE:   Yes, at Ayr State High School, and – and William Ross State High School for about five terms before that.  Six months at Ayr State High School, acting for a year at Thuringowa State High School, and then permanently appointed there in 2013.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  And you’ve also taught in London.  That was in 1990?

MR DALE:   Well, that was a travelling backpack holiday, but there was a bit of teaching that happened in London there as well. 

DR MELLIFONT:   All right.

MR DALE:   I probably shouldn’t go into those details.

DR MELLIFONT:   Perhaps that’s why the word “casual” appears in brackets on ‑ ‑ ‑

MR DALE:   “Casual” was an important word there.


COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   Where did you stay?

MR DALE:   In London, right in London – in Paddington. 


COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   No, I wondered if you had a tip about accommodation.

DR MELLIFONT:   All right.  Now, you hold a Bachelor of Education?

MR DALE:   That’s correct.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  From South Australian College Adelaide in 1984?

MR DALE:   1984, yes.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Thank you.  Now, Ms Fenoglio, your full name, please?

MS FENOGLIO:   Judith Ann Fenoglio.

DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you Ms Fenoglio.  I’m not so good on the pronunciation, it seems, today.  You are currently employed as the principal of Ingham State High School.

MS FENOGLIO:   That’s correct.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  And you have also had a lengthy career history in teaching?

MS FENOGLIO:   I have, interspersed with opportunities in the corporate world as well.

DR MELLIFONT:   Yes.  You have a Bachelor of Education from James Cook University?


DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.  Thank you.  And, Ms Prichard, your full name, please?

MS PRICHARD:   Pamela Therese Prichard.

DR MELLIFONT:   Are you currently employed as the principal of Bowen State High School?


DR MELLIFONT:   You’ve done a Bachelor of Education at James Cook University.

MS PRICHARD:   That’s correct.


DR MELLIFONT:   And how long have you been teaching for?

MS PRICHARD:   For around over 20 years, 24 years.

DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.  All right.  I want to start with a topic we haven’t talked about at all so far this week, and that is the existence or otherwise of a complaints process within your school.  So if you have a student or a parent or a carer ‑ ‑ ‑

MR DALE:   Yes.

DR MELLIFONT:   ‑ ‑ ‑ who has a complaint or an issue about how their student with a disability is treated, what’s the existing complaints mechanism?  Who would like to start?

MS FENOGLIO:   I will start, if you like.

DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.

MS FENOGLIO:   We have a brief where we communicate with parents that, in the first instance, if they have some sort of complaint, depending on whether it’s a curriculum or teaching or learning nature or a different nature, then their point of entry would be different.  If it’s a curriculum teaching and learning issue, the first point of call is always a classroom teacher.  Now, that’s no different for a student with a disability than any other student at the school because every student is connected to classroom teaching and learning.  So the, parent first of all, approaches the teacher, requests an appointment or a conversation or some sort of interview to address that problem.  If it’s a behaviour or an – external to classroom, then the parent will contact the year level coordinator.  We have one for each year level, and all of the details of these people are published in the student learning diaries, so that they’ve got access ‑ ‑ ‑

DR MELLIFONT:   I’ll get you to – I’m going to get you to slow down a little bit.

MS FENOGLIO:   I am so sorry.

DR MELLIFONT:   That’s all right.

MS FENOGLIO:   Yes.  Yes.  So the student learning diaries have the contact details for the relevant people, whether it would be a teacher or a year level coordinator.  If there is no satisfaction there, then there is an organisational chart, so it would proceed – we have year – we have HODs who are responsible for year levels.

DR MELLIFONT:   And HOD is a Head of Department?

MS FENOGLIO:   Head of Department, I’m sorry, yes, and then, above that, one deputy principal looks after Years 7, 8 and 9;  the other, 10, 11 and 12 and, likewise,


each deputy principal and myself have curriculum portfolios that we line manage.  So if it’s around a teaching and learning issue, it would travel through the curriculum line.  If it’s around a social and emotional or behavioural issue or something that happens in the playground, then it would travel through the year level coordinator, year level HOD line.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  And what happens if it can’t get – can’t get resolved within the school?  Where to then, or doesn’t that happen?

MS FENOGLIO:   Well, that is a rare instance, but we do have occasion where north regional office will be contacted, and then I will work with the peer personnel down there and, ultimately, though, it will come back to me, and I will pursue it until I can address the issue.

DR MELLIFONT:   I’m just trying to understand what that means.  When you say, “Ultimately come back to you,” does it come back to you with a direction, with a request from an office ‑ ‑ ‑

MS FENOGLIO:   It – it would be a collaborative conversation that I would have.  I would outline the steps that I have taken and what I see to have been the successful outcomes in the areas that need further – further work.  I would get some mentoring, perhaps, access some professional support if it’s around a particular – if it’s with a student disability and it’s around a particular behavioural issue, maybe get some medical expertise or something.  And then reinvestigate the solving of the problem with the parent back at the school-base location.

DR MELLIFONT:   All right.  Thank you.  Ms Prichard, what’s the complaints mechanism within your school?

MS PRICHARD:   Yes.  We would mirror Ingham State High School – High School very closely, and if it can’t be managed at that classroom level and it goes through the year level coordinator, a student with disability – and it’s the same with – with a student without a disability.  It goes to a Head of Department, but the Head of Department may then call on the Head of Inclusive Practices or Head of Inclusive Schooling, our HOSE, to provide some support as well because, generally, our HOSE has got a really great relationship with the parent and has got some extra information that a curriculum HOD may not necessarily be privy to.  So our head of – Head of Inclusive Schooling would be included in that complaints process.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Thank you.  Mr Dale?

MR DALE:   Exactly the same process.  Complaints are – are dealt with by the most appropriate person in the school that has the information about the event or the activity, or – or the student to – to help get a resolution with the parents.  Same aspect as well with respect to complaints that aren’t resolved at a school level that may go to regional office, but it should be noted as well some parents go straight to


regional office, rather than coming through the school mechanism as well.  Most complaints at schools are resolved in – in some form at schools though.

DR MELLIFONT:   In the circumstances where the parent or the carer has gone direct to ‑ ‑ ‑

MR DALE:   Yes.

DR MELLIFONT:   ‑ ‑ ‑ regional office, how does – how does the process then work?

MR DALE:   Same process, the regional office makes – makes contact with the school principal who will make a decision about who’s the best person to – to handle the complaint and to investigate the – the issues.  Along the way that will – that will be dealt with then if – if needed as a principal we will be involved as well and will notify regional office that the matter’s been resolved to a satisfactory level.

DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.  I want to now move to the importance of parental involvement.  As you heard this morning these questions are not directed to be a criticism of any parent because we know there are challenges for some parents and carers.  But I do want to understand from each of you the importance of having parental engagement in the journey of the student at the school and when you don’t have that, the challenges it presents.  Who would ‑ ‑ ‑

MS PRICHARD:   I’m happy to speak to it.

DR MELLIFONT:   Ms Prichard, thank you.

MS PRICHARD:   It’s absolutely vital for the success of the student and that parental contact should never be a one-off.  So it’s a continual progressive contact that we have with our parents, and that can be from our teachers in – in the classrooms to our heads of department, to a year level coordinators, to our deputy principal but that contact is – is regular and – and it’s for both positive feedback and also for concerns that we have.  But that’s how we all get to know the students at our school.  It’s – it’s really important.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  And when you don’t have it?

MS PRICHARD:   It does.  It makes things more difficult, absolutely.  Yes.

DR MELLIFONT:   And how?

MS PRICHARD:   Well, you don’t get that holistic picture of – of the student, and it takes us – it just takes a more lengthy time period to get to know that student and you could have done that more effectively in a shorter time period, that’s for sure.  But our teachers and as have been shared previously, our teachers do make that very


important to get to know our students, and develop those really strong relationships with our students.

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   How do you deal with delicate issues like separated families?  Families where the parents are separated, for example?

MS PRICHARD:   So both parents are important regardless of their marital status, so ‑ ‑ ‑

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   How do you deal with it?  See them together, separately.

MS PRICHARD:   Separately, yes.  And sometimes they request that they see us together as well.  Regardless if they – if their marriage has ended, depending on the relationship between those parents, sometimes they will request to see them together because that’s how they’re parenting together, yes.


MR DALE:   Very similar as well as what Pam was saying.  The parent can offer insight into the home life, into aspects of the – the student that we can’t see.  It’s about getting that holistic picture of the student and so we work really hard to get that parent involvement.  Staff work extremely hard to make contacts with parent.  It is difficult at times.  Staff can – with some parents staff can make multiple calls, emails.  We had systems in place where if we can’t get contact via email or via the phone that we do home visits to – to homes to make contact with parents there.  It can be a real time consuming activity, actually, to make that contact but as – as both Pam and Jude said, we really value that contact so we strive to get it.


MS FENOGLIO:   It’s important, especially in specific instances where we need the communication channels between home and school widely open because it may come about that you need to flexibly allocate resources for a limited period of time for a student who is dealing with a certain issue at a certain time or something like that.  And unless the communications are open between home and school, that can be hindered and become complicated for the student’s engagement at school if we’re not meeting the needs that they present with on any one particular day.  So, yes.

MS PRICHARD:   I will just say one more thing.  I think it’s important that we understand that sometimes the school requests that communication and then sometimes it’s requested by the parent, because it goes both – both ways and that’s important.

DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.  This morning you heard – you heard evidence, obviously, you’ve been sitting listening to Ms Kauppila and Ms Swancutt and Ms Morris in response to some questions around supports and mechanisms and


structures to assist First Nations students.  Is there anything in addition that you wish to add to the evidence we heard this morning about that within your own schools?

MS FENOGLIO:   I think the celebration of culturally significant events and the celebration of culture and a variety of cultures goes a long way to supporting the diverse range of students that we have in a school to feel belonging and to feel accepted and able to achieve.  So we are registered with the ARTIE academy.  I think you would be hard pressed to find a school that doesn’t put their hand up to get the extra support they can get particularly in cultural type – type matters.  So I advocate for community involvement to support us in this role for as much as we can get it particularly in my community.

DR MELLIFONT:   What might that community involvement look like?

MS FENOGLIO:   I was in the position where I could reallocate some funding recently to work on developing an initiative for young Indigenous boys, particularly boys who were in year 7 and 8.  At that particular time we were having some challenging behaviours regarding young Indigenous men, and I was set to work on a project to track their pathways and see if we could do something about stopping a pathway that ended up in a local – in an organisational institution here in Townsville.  So we had a diverse group of community representatives, Elders, knowledgeable others, professionals who identified with Indigenous culture come together to write a program of activities to engage these young men, to put them on a positive path for the future.  So that sort of community engagement is invaluable.  Unfortunately, it’s always relying on volunteers, like-minded people to come together and give up – give up their time and source funding wherever we can get it.

COMMISSIONER ATKINSON:   And was it – was it successful?

MS FENOGLIO:   It was successful for the life of the time.  Now, what I say next is not meant to be interpreted as negatively.  However, as – as Jewelann spoke earlier my school is declining in numbers and due to a reduction in staff allocation I could no longer attract a staff member to take on that portfolio.

COMMISSIONER ATKINSON:   I’m just wondering about what the cost of that staff member would be compared to the cost of keeping open a juvenile detention facility by the State Government to house the children who didn’t have the advantage of the program, but maybe that’s a matter Ms McMillan could take on notice for a later time.

MS FENOGLIO:   That’s the line of thinking we were using.

MS McMILLAN:   Thank you, Commissioner.



DR MELLIFONT:   Ms Prichard, Mr Dale, anything further on this topic before we move to the next?  That is community – the importance of community involvement and any other initiative ‑ ‑ ‑

MR DALE:   I totally support that community involvement in essential.  It is difficult sometimes as well, and that’s why for our school with a large Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population of over 300 students using the – the Stars and Clontarf foundation as Loren discussed before has been a way to engage parents that may have or may not have had a successful experience themselves at school back into schooling again.  And both those organisations run events for – for students and parents, and we just sort of mosey on in as well to make those connections that we don’t necessarily had had beforehand.  So that’s a really beneficial way.  As Jude said, celebrating NAIDOC is a big occasion at our school.  It is a fantastic event or our school and community. 

I suppose the other one that all schools are involved with as well is creating opportunities to role model Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to make not only them proud but their community proud.  That may be through indigenous leaders, in our school situation I think pretty close to half our whole school leadership team, talking captains and student council members are indigenous anyhow.  So we’re always looking for opportunities.

DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.  Ms Prichard?

MS PRICHARD:   Yes.  We did a lot of work around cultural transformation of our indigenous students that’s encouraging a sense of themselves and pride in their culture and being able to share that with all of our students and all of our students are very, very interested in learning about the First Nations culture.  So we did a lot of work around increasing the profile of our indigenous Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.  Ms Fenoglio, I want to ask you a question you heard this morning I asked a question – Commissioner Atkinson asked a question about the ability for inclusive education to promote positive pathways and to divert from negative pathways post the school years or even in the school years.  Can you assist us with your observations in respect of that, please?

MS FENOGLIO:   Particularly within the area of inclusion, I think having students work alongside peers, especially in the senior years – I’m talking about Year 11 and 12 here, which are thought of as the years when you launch into whether it’s going to become employment or further tertiary study, creating an environment and say self-belief that the world will be positive and engaging them in a senior education where they are actually achieving and seeing how that this education can be a stepping stone to a positive future. 

So if – I fear that if students were in a segregated model they would not be able to engage in the opportunities, broaden scope of their world and become active citizens


in the true sense of the world in that they had been exposed to a diverse group of people going through school, maybe exposed to traineeships and work experience or, you know, school clubs and things like that.  And so that for them would be a mirror of a community that could be.  So once they’ve launched from school they’ve actually got a foundation or a scaffold to reflect back on and see and just role model how people have actually engaged with each other.  And models for making choices, because ultimately the negative pathways are the result of a choice in that direction.  So supporting students to make positive choices based on their education and their school experiences I think would help to keep people from going down that track.

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   The evidence this morning and this afternoon is of programs that are very successful.  We live in a world where at least governments like to have objective measures of success.  How do you measure the success of your programs or do you?

MS FENOGLIO:   That’s a very difficult one.  Systemically, we can measure A to E data, the academic results of our students.  We can track behaviour data to see about the encounters that are happening in the classrooms at the school.  And within Queensland we also have what’s called the Next Step which tracks the data of what students are doing with their lives the year after they have finished Year 12.  That can be useful.  It also gives us contact details because these are details that we get voluntarily from young people once they finish school.  So we have those to refer back to.  In terms of any ‑ ‑ ‑

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   Is that material published?

MS FENOGLIO:   It’s published on my school website at the end of every – at the end of every data collection point it’s available there for people to see my data specifically, what’s happened in my school, yes.

MS PRICHARD:   You can also track attendance and increase in attendance of our students, especially students involved in those programs and the retention of our students.  We keep our students right through to Year 12.  So we track attendance and retention rates as well.

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   How have they varied over the last few years?

MS PRICHARD:   There’s a continual improvement – pattern of improvement.

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   Is that true of your school as well?

MR DALE:   With attendance?  No, not necessarily across the whole school.  Attendance is a difficult challenge for us at the moment.  It – it is with a diverse range of students that we’ve got we’re working hard on attendance.  I was going to add to that work we’re doing with engagement with students, the key is keeping students engaged with something that they enjoy, something that they see some purpose in, and I think we’re all looking for – for programs and activities that – that


will give students some real sense of purpose, some real engagement, some success along the way.  When we’re talking programs, I’m always careful, I – I – there’s not a program or a book that you can do and that’s going to be the solution.  I think that the key thing behind any program is the human resource aspect of it, is the quality of the person delivering the program.  And I think we’ve always got to remember that.  And that’s what we probably work on as – as principals is building capacity of our teaching staff to be the best possible teaching staff that they can be so that they can have the maximum effect to students.

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   If we look specifically at students with disability within your schools, are there measurements of the kind that you’ve described that can track success or otherwise of particular programs?

MR DALE:   Loren started talking about those as well.  There are definitely some – some measures there as well.  That ranges from attendance to academic data as well.  I’m just going to get a nod from her over in the corner as well.  Yes. 

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   I think you got a nod.  Do each of the school’s websites have this information?

MR DALE:   Sorry?

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   Do each of the school’s websites have this information?

MR DALE:   No, that – that information isn’t publicly available on websites so ‑ ‑ ‑


DR MELLIFONT:   When we ‑ ‑ ‑

MS PRICHARD:   The other – hang on. 


MS PRICHARD:   The other thing that we have seen – and I – we always talk about education is the key is – the transformation or the change in our society’s attitude, their behaviour towards our children with disability and – and our society or our local community is changing.  Our partnerships with our – with our businesses in Bowen, that’s changing.  The enormous support that we receive for them for our students with disability is overwhelming, and they’re proud of it.  They advertise it on their website so it’s seen on their websites as well.  So I’ve seen the change at Bowen in the Bowen community with that – starting with education, but a change in community beliefs and understanding and appreciation of diversity in students with disability.  Yes.


DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.  It’s something I want to come back to you in a moment.  Did I cut you off, though? 

MS PRICHARD:   Yes, I ‑ ‑ ‑

DR MELLIFONT:   Did you want to say something about that?

MS FENOGLIO:   No, no, no, I just – I was going to pick up on attendance.  If you look at the attendance data at Ingham State High School, it’s very good.  That’s because we don’t have any malls or any shopping precincts or any fun parks.  So if you don’t come to school, you don’t get to engage with your peers.  So our focus is ‑ ‑ ‑

COMMISSIONER ATKINSON:   You think we should recommend the closure of Flinders Mall.  It limits our opportunities? 

MS FENOGLIO:   Yes.  So our focus is on engagement in the quality programs that – that we’ve got on offer.


COMMISSIONER ATKINSON:   I don’t know if we can really recommend the closure of all malls around Australia.  It’s an idea, but I’m not sure.

MR DALE:   Just from 9 to 3.  That’s okay.

COMMISSIONER GALBALLY:   I guess the only thing ‑ ‑ ‑

DR MELLIFONT:   I’ve now forgotten my question, Commissioner.  So thank you.

COMMISSIONER GALBALLY:   I would – I was just curious about the comparison of different socioeconomic groupings and the diversity groupings.  You would have to be comparing apples with apples too, wouldn’t you?


MR DALE:   Yes, that’s right, yes. 


COMMISSIONER GALBALLY:   There’s – and you’re not all the same.

MS PRICHARD:   No, we’ve got ‑ ‑ ‑



MS PRICHARD:   ‑ ‑ ‑ varying percentages of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students with disability across our schools.


DR MELLIFONT:   I want ‑ ‑ ‑

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   Sorry, what are the differences?

MS PRICHARD:   So Grant’s got ‑ ‑ ‑

MR DALE:   Well, I’ve – my school, I’ve got about 40 per cent of students identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.  I’ve got seven per cent of students that – students with disability.


MR DALE:   Seven, which is about 50 students, and I have 170 students on the NCCD data which is about 23, 24 per cent.  Probably the – the other factor that I have is that it’s a low socioeconomic community.  We’re in the fourth percentile of schools across Australia.  A low ICSEA number.  Now, that would include some of those students I just mentioned as well and others.  So – and I – I think there’s a huge impact with socioeconomic factors on – on schooling, on engagement as well.

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   And each of the other schools, what’s the division?

MS PRICHARD:   Yes.  So 20 per cent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, five per cent disability.  Similar numbers for NCCD data, around 105.  So similar to – to Grant’s school at Thuringowa.

MS FENOGLIO:   My percentage is very much the same as Bowen.  It seems to be proportional to the general population, so it mirrors that.  Yes, nothing – nothing different.  We find that, being a small community, though, there’s very much community ownership of the school and, in that way, parents and caregivers take their right of access and actually come in and have conversations with us around their – their issues and their problems.  Probably more so than what Grant would be able to experience because it’s in a larger location.

MR DALE:   There’s also the effect of mobility as well with people moving in and out of the suburb ‑ ‑ ‑


MR DALE:   ‑ ‑ ‑ and community which doesn’t give them that connection to the school or the community as well.


COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   It sounds as though your community is a very tightknit community.


DR MELLIFONT:   I’m going to remind everybody to slow down for our interpreters.  Thank you.  And can somebody just give me an indication, is that middle mic picking up, sufficiently, the sound?  Up and down.  Okay.  So I might need you to lean in.

MS PRICHARD:   Yes, no trouble.

DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.  Now, you’ve each spoken in your statements about – can I call it self-assessment or reflections upon progress with respect to inclusion.  But what I really want to understand is are there departmentally mandated self-audits, and what do they – what are they?

MR DALE:   I will probably – probably start with that.  The Department is very much part of the journey with our – with inclusion, of course, in schools.  Although, the three schools here started the journey a little bit earlier than the Department’s policy.  Everyone’s on the same journey now.  In respect to auditing, there’s – there’s probably two or three types of areas that – that occur that – that I know of, and – and one would be from a school-based situation, and that may be through something using a – a checklist that – the Signposts for Improvement is one of those checklists that schools can use to evaluate where they’re currently at and – and their – the next step.

DR MELLIFONT:   Yes, and that Signpost checklist you speak of is a departmentally-issued tool?

MR DALE:   That’s a Department tool.


MR DALE:   The second one I would say would – would be a – a regional audit, and – and that would occur through – we’re all – everyone’s got a boss.  We’ve got Assistant Regional Directors that – that work with us that have a number of schools that they work with each, and – and they meet with us and that’s part of the agenda about how we’re – how we’re working with students and how we’re catering for the needs of students – for all students including students with disability.  And I would say that the final one is, every four years, our schools go through a school improvement unit review, and that’s a good chance to have external people come into the school and do an evaluation of all the programs in the school, including inclusive education.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  The middle one you mentioned, that is, the meeting, does that involve looking at hard data, or is it a discussion?  What is it?


MR DALE:   It’s a – it definitely looks at hard data.  Datasets are available ranging from everything from attendance to behaviour to levels of achievement in – in class, to NAPLAN data, to senior data.  So that – that forms the basis of – of the conversation.  The idea, once again, is that Assistant Regional Directors get to know the school and have an understanding of the school.  They can see the progress.  There’s classroom visits involved with that.  There’s conversations with other heads of department and school leaders, as well as, most importantly, with – with teachers and with students as well.

DR MELLIFONT:   And how often does that happen?

MR DALE:   They happen – it varies from school to school.  It’s a little bit differentiated, but that ‑ ‑ ‑

DR MELLIFONT:   What about for your school?

MR DALE:   For our – our – our school is twice a term.


MR DALE:   In a – in a regular term, about twice a term, and available on need – if we need them.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Ms Prichard?

MS PRICHARD:   So school improvement is based on the school improvement hierarchy which is the nine domains, and we all work within that hierarchy according to the nine domains and we align school improvement to those domains and work within those domains.  We use the – the Signposts for Inclusion as well as a reflection tool, but that’s exactly what it is.  It is a tool;  it’s not a mandated auditing device or process, and we use that with all staff, and that’s including auxiliary staff as well.  And then, at our school, we have class action plan meetings where I meet with our teachers twice a year, and we work through – they present to me what strategies they’re using to achieve a plus one, and that was mentioned before.  That’s an improvement strategy for every single student in their class across their classes.

DR MELLIFONT:   What’s plus one mean?

MS PRICHARD:   Yes, it’s an improvement strategy.  So it’s – as long as that student is improving – so they might not jump a whole level of achievement.  They might simply jump from, say, an A1 to an A2.  It might be just a ladder placement, but as long as they’re improving so it’s always plus one.  We have plus one for students, but we also have plus one for teachers so teachers continue to improve their capability and their practice.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Ms Fenoglio, departmental oversight, what – and self-reflection.


MS FENOGLIO:   The only – the only mandatory reflection would be the school improvement unit that Grant spoke about that is cyclical, every four years, and the school is assessed against the nine domains within the school improvement hierarchy.  In terms of prioritising future work, the school improvement unit come up with a series of key priorities which are identified for the school.  Now, I’ve just been through this process, not last week, the week prior, and I’m anticipating getting my report back so that we can start planning for the next four years, and that will cover suggestions and recommendations for further steps to take with inclusion, or areas that I might like to consider for the future.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  The witnesses this morning have done a little bit of your work for you ‑ ‑ ‑

MS PRICHARD:   They sure have.

DR MELLIFONT:   ‑ ‑ ‑ in terms of describing the journey towards inclusion within your schools, but I did want to give each of you the opportunity to see if there was anything you wanted to add to that journey, or if there’s anything you disagree with about how it was explained.  Ms Prichard, would you like to start?

MS PRICHARD:   There’s nothing that I want to disagree with.  I think Catherine gave a very clear picture of our journey of inclusion.  The only thing she forgot to share was the principal taught as a co-teacher. 


MS PRICHARD:   So I went into the classroom and I taught alongside Catherine.  I also taught alongside a first-year teacher as well, and we co-taught a Year 8 history class.  So I did that very purposefully because we can’t step around it that principals are the key drivers for inclusion in schools and across schools, and I think we need to walk the talk.  So if we’re going to talk about co-teaching, then we should be able to do it ourselves and demonstrate that practice for our teachers.

DR MELLIFONT:   Right.  Thank you. 



MR DALE:   I probably – as I said, we’ve started a little bit earlier than the actual policy came out, but in saying that, there was always a policy about every student succeeding and the – the timing was right.  It wasn’t just, “Hey, let’s do inclusion.”  It was a environment then when schools were – were really having a good hard look at them self with support from the department about their school improvement journey.  So quite a few things came together about setting high expectations for all students in this region, and I’m not sure how wide it was across the state, but around the 2014/2015 time, we were doing work with Lyn Sharratt, and she had a series of


beliefs and one of them was that all students can achieve high standards given the right amount of time and support, and that became basically the moral imperative and our core business. 

As well as that, along the side, there’s always a number of – of drivers happening at the same time.  As well as that, we were – we were examining our teaching and learning, and – and in – in the classroom and making sure that we had the best quality teachers in the classroom that – so that we could get – maximise learning as well.  So there was a number of agendas rolling at the same time and this one really fitted in really well.

DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.  Ms Fenoglio?

MS FENOGLIO:   Very similar story.  We had a focus on quality teaching and learning, and the students with disability were within our school community, however, they weren’t in the inclusive model.  So we recognised that there was a collection of young people here, and with Every Student Succeeding State Schools Policy Statement that was first released in 2014, those students weren’t – their needs weren’t being addressed according to the policy, and so it was a conversation starter.  At the beginning, there was very – there was very little resistance to actually moving towards an inclusive model, but there was a lot of fear, particularly from the teaching teams and people like that.  So we required – the journey needed to be not quick.  It needed to be considered, and – and determined so that we could travel the course.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  I think each of your statements speak about you having high expectations for all of your students, and you would have heard some evidence earlier in the week about the negative impacts of devaluation of people with disability and the negative impacts of having low expectations of people with disabilities.  Do you each have an observation in respect of the importance of having high expectation of all your students?

MR DALE:   I – I think it makes the world of difference in – in your school culture, and that’s what we’re talking about.  We’re talking about developing and changing school culture, that it’s about high expectations for – not only for students, but for teachers as well and, in our school, that’s been our biggest change, is that I believe we’ve – we’ve given students reasonable aspirations and high aspirations to reach, and – and I’ve asked teachers to – to work hard to meet those high expectations as well.  And I agree with what you said before.  There was possibly students walking through gates with low expectations before and – and meeting those low expectations, and we’ve – we’ve definitely raised the bar.


DR MELLIFONT:   Do you ‑ ‑ ‑

MS PRICHARD:   Well, I – I – yes.  Absolutely, Grant’s correct.  High expectations for our students, but high expectations for our teachers and also revisiting those


expectations and revisiting those practices, and challenging our own practices and challenging our own beliefs.  I think that’s really important to maintain those high expectations for both our students and also for our teaching and support staff as well.

DR MELLIFONT:   Ms Fenoglio?

MS FENOGLIO:   Can I just add to that too, it also has a flow-on effect with parents and care givers because in meetings and consultations, the teachers and the teams at school can reinforce the possibility of high expectations and achieving high expectations, and it also opens a world for parents about what might be possible for their young people with disability.

DR MELLIFONT:   Now, I don’t think anybody’s claiming that Queensland education have – has got it perfect yet, so – and that has been acknowledged, of course, infancy in respect of the new policy.  What I want to turn to now is what you see as the barriers and/or challenges in going on this journey towards inclusion, and within inclusion.  Can I start with you, Ms Fenoglio.  You speak about a barrier being the architectural structure of your building and classrooms.  Can you explain that, please.

MS FENOGLIO:   The school was first established in 1950.  And we have a piece of architecture in the school that represents every decade.  The newer buildings, the ones from the last 10 to 15 years, meet modern legislation regarding access for people with disability.  Prior to that, you can look around the school and we have a whole conglomeration of things.  The – the standard building in the ’60s was the two storey with the winding staircases and, you know, students access them as – as best they could.  My school – the majority of the classrooms in the school are built like that.  It’s very confronting and challenging, timetabling and getting students to access specialist classrooms, particularly with their peers, because you can say that that classroom has great disability access but in a secondary school, students traditionally travel from classroom to classroom depending on curriculum area or specific design needs. 

So I have a moral dilemma, but it’s easily won within myself because I refuse to have a student placed in a classroom and stays in the classroom all day because that’s not the general norm of what happens in a secondary school.  We have to investigate ways where we can utilise buildings to get the widest experience we can geographically on the site for those people knowing we cannot access the upper buildings.  We did get some functionality to one building, but the – the lift is unreliable.  And I won’t take the risk of putting a student upstairs if I can’t get them down.  So we have all sorts of complications, which is nobody’s fault.  The expense of transforming the structures to meet modern requirements would be unfathomable.  They’re all full of asbestos.  They’re double storey.  All sorts of complications.  So we just have to do the best we can.  And architecturally, I have to just sort of manage the structures as best I can.

DR MELLIFONT:   Ms Prichard, do you have any observations on this topic?


MS PRICHARD:   We’ve got similar challenges because our schools were built in the same era.  We have just had a lift installed.  It’s not operational yet.  However it does only provide us access to the top storey of one of our buildings.  And the cost that is attached to that is considerable, as we would like all of our students, and students with disability to be able to access the top story of all of our buildings.  Because a number of our buildings, they’re specialised classrooms like hospitality centres, and so forth, that they need to access as part of the curriculum.

DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.  Mr Dale, do you have similar challenges?

MR DALE:   Not really.  We’re a – we’re a 30-year-old school.  We’re – we’re flat and low set, which makes access a little bit easier.  In saying that, there’s always continual improvement happening with – with ramps and doorways to improve access for students in wheelchairs.

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   Is there a process whereby you can request funds for transformation of your buildings?

MS PRICHARD:   It’s called Ed For All.  That’s why we’ve gained the funding for improvements we’ve done and provide access that’s undercover walkways and ramps and so forth and we’ve been fortunate.

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   That’s where the non-performing lift came from.

MS PRICHARD:   It’s only new.


MS PRICHARD:   Yes.  It’s only new.  It’s probably happened at our school somewhat faster than other schools.  I’m actually pleased with what we have functioning currently in 2019.  Yes.


DR MELLIFONT:   Ms Fenoglio I wanted to take you to paragraph 28 of your statement.  This is page 7.  It’s the last page.  I’m going to read it to you and then I’m going to ask you to explain it to me, please. 

My challenge as principal is ensure fidelity of our practices... induction of new staff and active engagement with the wider school community.  If I do not address this challenge and monitor school practices on an ongoing and regular basis, then barriers may emerge in the continuing implementation of inclusive education at Ingham State High School.

MS FENOGLIO:   My role as principal is to ensure line of sight, to ensure that the inclusive practices journey is continuing and travelling the way my expectation is that it would be.  We have new staff coming into the school at all times.  At the end


of any year schools have teachers transfer out, teachers retire.  We have teachers who go on maternity leave and you need to replace those people with new staff who may or may not come with any knowledge of inclusive schooling practices.  So we need to have something in place where we can actively engage those people growing their professional knowledge in that space. 

Likewise, with staff who are at the school at a long-term basis, we need to ensure that we’re ongoing with our professional learning because the research is always exploring and having new evidence-based strategies that we can employ, that we can use in classrooms.  Likewise, teachers who have been in the school for a long time, many of them want to try new things and perhaps try new co-teaching partnerships.  So all of that involves new professional learning experience for them and we need to be able to provide the means for that to happen. 

If – and likewise with the school community engagement, I have an obligation to keep the school informed about how we run, what we do.  We’re a public organisation.  So the community has a right to know what’s going on in the school.  So that’s part of my responsibility in terms of PR and just information sharing.  If I don’t continue to pay due attention to all of those areas, then barriers could emerge that I didn’t see coming.  So I have to be on the front to make sure I know what I might not know.

DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.  Ms Prichard or Mr Dale, do you have an observation, any comments in respect of what Ms Fenoglio just said?


MR DALE:   No.

DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.  Ms Prichard, can I take you, please, to paragraph 28 of your statement.  And that’s at page 8.  And you were – you were asked in our notice to you to identify things that could be done to improve the education of students with a disability, and – and one thing you identified was to change the archaic and redundant staffing model to include an increased number of teachers allocated to schools with disability enrolled and learning in mainstream classrooms.  Can you tell us about that, please?

MS PRICHARD:   Well, the staffing model, as I’ve described there, is archaic.  It is redundant.  The complexity of – the complexity of students that are enrolling in our school, the complexity of their learning needs, the complexity of their behavioural, social and emotional learning needs, and the expectation – and it’s non-negotiable, the expectation we put on our teachers to provide those learning experiences for our teachers, the staffing model is 41 years old.  It needs to be revisited and it needs to be done so.  It needs to be prioritised to provide us with more teachers so then we can implement more co-teaching for our students to support our students co-teaching across our schools, across curriculum areas across year levels and also across schools to provide that personalised teaching and learning for – for students with disability


and for students with additional learning needs.  So at the moment, you know, we have class numbers, so 7 to 9, 1 to 28, and then 10, 11, 12, you know, 1 to 25.  One teacher to 25.

DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.  I suspect the next point you raised in your statement is linked in part, that is increased planning and preparation time allocations above the 210 minutes for teachers teaching students with disability.  Is that linked to the ‑ ‑ ‑

MS PRICHARD:   Yes.  And that’s – that’s linked to – to the current staffing model that we’ve got.  So teachers when they’re employed, they’re employed as a – as a full – a full-time employment as a one.  Then the expectation that the school – well, the staffing model that we have that our teachers teach 17 out of 20 lessons, and then three out of those 20 lessons is the preparation and correction time.  Our teachers – and I say this without apology – need more than 210 minutes or three 70 minute sessions for preparation and correction if they’re to do justice and provide those personalised learning experiences for our students with disability and additional learning needs.


MS PRICHARD:   It is only practical and it’s common sense.

DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.  You also list increased financial resources to schools to support the professional learning for teachers who teach students with disability.  Can you expand on that for me, please?

MS PRICHARD:   So that’s just linked to our whole school professional learning plan.  And we prioritise professional learning for our teachers that are teaching students with disability to improve their teaching capability.  A lot of that time that we do that professional learning is on weekends or after school, during twilight sessions.  If it is during class time then we need to replace that teacher, in particular if that teacher is coming out of a co-teaching arrangement, that teacher still needs to be replaced so that we maintain those two teachers in that one classroom.

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   Do all teachers at your school have specific training in teaching children with disability or dealing with the behavioural issues, for example, that might arise from time to time?

MS PRICHARD:   No, they don’t.



COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   How does that work in practice?

MS PRICHARD:   That will come to my next point, recommendation.


COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   Come to your next point.



MS PRICHARD:   That will come to, like, mandatory training, which is another question that I want to come out of the Commission.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  We will come to that.


DR MELLIFONT:   You’ve also listed as a – as a matter reducing the allocation of teacher aides to school but increasing teacher allocation as an alternative staffing model.  Can you explain that, please?

MS PRICHARD:   And, look, this is – this is a personal view because I believe our – our students with disability are entitled to a teacher, not a teacher aide.  And I pose the question:  why shouldn’t they be entitled to a teacher aide?  Why shouldn’t our children with a disability be – sorry, to a teacher rather than a teacher aide.  Our teachers – teachers are trained, they’re – they’re skilled in their practice.  They can deliver the curriculum.  They can provide instruction in the curriculum.  They can assess the curriculum.  They report on the curriculum.  Our students with disability are entitled to a quality teacher just like our students without disability.

DR MELLIFONT:   So if you can just explain that a little bit more, because obviously ‑ ‑ ‑

MS PRICHARD:   Yes.  I don’t want any more money for teacher aides.  If you could convert my teacher aide allocation into more teachers, I would be very pleased about that.

DR MELLIFONT:   But I want to go into a little bit more which is your school has a strong co-teaching model.

MS PRICHARD:   Yes, it has, yes.

DR MELLIFONT:   Now, ideally for you that means two teachers in a room rather than a teacher and a teacher aide.

MS PRICHARD:   That’s correct.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Now, explain the concept of parity of teaching in a co‑teaching model when you’ve got two teachers in a room as opposed to a teacher and a teacher aide, please.


MS PRICHARD:   That’s correct.  So co-teaching two teachers in the same class.  They have equal responsibilities for the teaching, the assessing, the reflecting, the reporting of the students that are in that class.  The teacher aide by definition of their role and by their EB agreement does not allow them to teach the curriculum, only a teacher can do that.  If – if a teacher aide is teaching the curriculum, well, that is a breach of their EB.  They are unable to do that.  And two teachers in the same classroom supports not only our students with disability but all of our students, and they’re – they’re teaching in a number of different ways throughout – depending on what the needs of the students are, and that is reflective of each lesson.  So each lesson in a co-teaching arrangement can look very, very different.  The teacher aide is constrained by the definition of their role.

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   Assuming you get your wish ‑ ‑ ‑

MS PRICHARD:   Thank you.

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   ‑ ‑ ‑ and you have – you have two co-teachers teaching the class, but within the class, there are one or two children with disability with substantial needs.  It might be toileting;  it might be personal care;  it might be taking medications, or whatever.  Is this a function then is taken over by one of the two co-teachers, or do you need another teacher’s aide in addition to the two teachers?

MS PRICHARD:   I don’t want any teacher aides.  That’s another point I want to bring up.  So teacher aides currently performing medical procedures like catheterisation, peg feeding, tubing and so forth, in my view, that should not be part of their role.  That should be performed by a medical practitioner attached to the school.  That should not be performed by a teacher aide.

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   So you want, not only co-teaching, you want a medical practitioner there at all times?

MS PRICHARD:   Exactly right.

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   Just like old people taking a cruise ‑ ‑ ‑

MS PRICHARD:   Yes, they’re entitled to that.

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   ‑ ‑ ‑ who need a medical practitioner at all times.





COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   Anything else that comes with the two-teacher model?

MS PRICHARD:   A couple of things. 

COMMISSIONER ATKINSON:   Closure of malls? 

MS FENOGLIO:   Could I – could I add that co-teaching is one of the strongest research evidence-based strategies that exist.

COMMISSIONER ATKINSON:   Can I ask, then, can you have more students if you have co-teachers?  I mean, you know, because, immediately, there’s going to be the question of the economics of it.  So can you slightly increase ‑ ‑ ‑


COMMISSIONER ATKINSON:   ‑ ‑ ‑ the student numbers in the class?

MS PRICHARD:   No, that’s not the model that I would work from. 


MS PRICHARD:   Absolutely not.  We want to reduce the one to one ratio.  So the less students in the class, the more attention the teachers can give to – to – to the students.

MS FENOGLIO:   But reducing class size so that it’s about 10 to 15 doesn’t have the same impact as putting two teachers in with 25 students.  The model changes slightly when – the diversity and the – the size of the group of the class needs to be a critical mass as well, not a tiny, tiny group ‑ ‑ ‑

MS PRICHARD:   Yes.  And in addition to that, the teacher may have one to eight or one to 15, but it’s what the teacher actually does in that classroom.  It’s the impact that that teacher has.  So it’s the teaching, the quality teaching that the teacher does in that classroom that makes a difference that has the impact on the student.

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   Is there a model anywhere in Queensland or, for that matter, Australia where there are somebody from the medical field – maybe a nurse, not necessarily.  I suppose, a medical practitioner, as such?

MS PRICHARD:   So we have school nurses, but they don’t perform medical procedures.  So there are school nurses in schools, and there’s one in my school allocated to my school, but that – their role does not include medical procedures.

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   Is that because they’re not qualified to do that, or is that some departmental ‑ ‑ ‑


MS PRICHARD:   No, not at all.  That’s just in their role description.

MS FENOGLIO:   They’re not employed by us. 

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   That’s another item ‑ ‑ ‑

MS FENOGLIO:   They’re employed by Queensland Health.

MS PRICHARD:   Yes.  Yes.  So a revisit of that role would be something we could look forward to.

DR MELLIFONT:   Can I pick up that topic for a moment, and could you explain to me your perception – your view on the difficulty with student perception on two fronts.  The first with a teacher aide attending to their medical needs and then being in the classroom if that happens, and, secondly, the perception a student might have that the teacher aide is, in fact, their teacher.  Could you explain to me the complexity that you’ve observed in that respect?

MS PRICHARD:   Yes.  Okay.  So, sometimes, those – those lines are blurred.  So we have a teacher aide that would be performing those medical procedures like toileting and catheterisation, and then from there, they then go over and – you know, go back into the classroom or go into the classroom and then they’re working with that student on the curriculum or whatever learning activity or assessment that those students are working for.  So for me, that – that line is blurred.  Someone that’s – that’s supporting you with curriculum requirements, preferably, should not be the person that is toileting you.  Just to keep that professional – professional boundaries in place, professional lines in place. 

I’ve had requests from teacher aides in regards to accessing YouTube because it supports whatever the teacher’s teaching – teaching from the curriculum, and that request has been denied because any request I get needs to come from the teacher, not the teacher aide because the teacher is responsible for the teaching and learning for that student with a disability or without a disability.  Sometimes, we have a blurred line between the communication between a teacher aide and a parent where the parent should be working with the teacher of that student, not the teacher aide, in regards to their teaching and learning and their assessment.

DR MELLIFONT:   You’ve provided, in your statements, a list of a number of – a number of issues, and we have touched on some of them now.  What I – what I wanted to pick up on before I come to Mr Dale is this paragraph 47.  Students with disabilities who transfer into the school during the school year and who don’t commence at the start of the year with the school.  A school’s required to submit an application for additional funding, which is not always successful and the school is notified that the pool of funding is empty, then the school is required to provide support and find the human and financial resource from its currently exhausted and allocated funding.  I’ve heard a little bit about this from some other witnesses.


MS PRICHARD:   Yes.  Yes.

DR MELLIFONT:   But can you expand on that for me, please?

MS PRICHARD:   Yes.  So – and we have touched on these issues when – when, previously, we have spoken about EAP and the funding allocation that’s attached to that.  So when you get a student in through – throughout the year, they – they don’t come along with any funding, so any other – any support – any additional support that they require, you have to find that from school-based funds.  So there is no funding allocation that comes along with that student if they enrol during – you know, during semester 2 or during semester 1.  So you have to – you have to go through the process of – of – of putting in a submission for additional funds and, sometimes, that’s not successful, particularly if it’s in the later part or later part of the year in semester 2.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Ms Fenoglio ‑ ‑ ‑

MS PRICHARD:   Because that’s happening across the states.  All schools are in the same position.  So, you know, everyone’s – everyone’s applying for those additional funds.

DR MELLIFONT:   Have you had the same experience Ms Fenoglio?  Yes.  And Mr Dale?

MR DALE:   Probably not as much.  I would say that there’s still sometimes – the – the concern is still the same.  However, sometimes, with mobility, you – you may lose one and pick up a student.  And so, basically, your overall package is very similar to what it was before.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Mr Dale, I’m going to come, now, to the barrier and challenges you’ve identified in your statement, and then I’m going to allow each of you to give us your wish list, as it were.  Things you would like to see the Commission accomplish.  Mr Dale, at paragraphs 40 to 41, you list the first barrier or challenge as human resources.  Can you explain that for us, please?

MR DALE:   I – I – as I mentioned before, I – I value – and I think – I don’t want to speak for Pam, but when Pam was talking about teachers, that’s really recognising the four years of university and the training that the teachers have done as well, as – as compared to the shorter courses that teacher aides do, and I think that’s part of that – that conversation that teachers are teachers.  They’ve done the training;  they’ve done those four years.  There’s probably two issues here with human resources, at the moment, for – for our school and – and maybe a little bit wider as well.  There’s a teacher shortage at the moment in – in Townsville.  I believe it’s across Queensland and across Australia at the moment, and I – that – that’s a concern. 

At the moment, in – in our school, we have just managed to fill our staffing quota for – for this year.  We’ve gone for large periods of time without the – the staff that


we’ve required.  In fact, in our school, we’ve got two student teachers that are on permission to teach, filling that role, because they couldn’t find someone across Australia to fill those roles, and I believe that story may be widespread across Townsville right across Queensland and right across Australia as well.  So there’s that – that bigger picture of attracting people into the profession, and I think that’s a really important point to make.  I know Queensland Education Department is working hard with a – with an Attraction Unit. 

In fact, our school is piloting something called a Future Teachers Project, at the moment, where we’ve got Year 11 and Year 12 students actually starting a teaching degree in school.  It’s been paid for by the Department in – in conjunction with a local university.  Ours is James Cook University.  So we’ve got seven students, at the moment, for this year and more next year that are well underway on their – their first unit of work in their teaching degree, which I – I think is just fabulous, and something that we probably should have thought of earlier.  We should have been promoting our own craft to – to our students.  We get the best look at them.  We know – we – we know their background, we know their academic marks and we know personalities that we think would make cracker teachers.  So I’m really pleased with that.

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   Do you agree with Ms Prichard’s view about teacher’s aide?

MR DALE:   My preference would always be for a teacher.  However, I believe teacher aides have a really important role to play both within schools and within some classrooms.

COMMISSIONER GALBALLY:   Are any of your Year 11 and 12, the seven people, with disability – students with a disability?

MR DALE:   I couldn’t – there are students there with – there’s anxiety students, there’s – I’m just – I don’t think there’s any students with a disability as in verified students with a disability, but there may be some that are on the NCCD data.

DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.  The next challenge you list are the requirements of the Educational Adjustment Program, and they reflect the evidence that Ms Swancutt gave this morning with respect to the challenges presented by that process.  Was there anything in addition to what Ms Swancutt mentioned that you wanted to say about that topic?

MR DALE:   No, no, not – not at all.  That’s a process that – that is – that is looked at by the – the Head of Inclusive Schooling, and that’s basically from feedback from – from Loren and the team involved in doing that.  So that’s very similar.

DR MELLIFONT:   All right.  Ms Prichard or Ms Fenoglio, did you have any observations with respect to the challenges – whether the EAP requirements present challenges with respect to providing what you need for students with disabilities?


MS FENOGLIO:   In our location, it provides challenges with access to specialised – I mean, we don’t have paediatricians located within the town, so the mobility issues and – and getting people to access diagnosis and verification is very difficult.

DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.  Ms Prichard, anything further?

MS PRICHARD:   I just think – and I think – I think Loren Swancutt brought it up around the scope of the EAP and is – yes.

DR MELLIFONT:   Can I – sorry, just speak into the microphone.

MS PRICHARD:   Sorry.  This – yes, around broadening the scope of the EAP categories for our students with disabilities.  I think that’s important, and the use of NCCD data as well as the resource allocation.



DR MELLIFONT:   And is the essence of that, with respect to broadening the scope of EAP, is that you’ve got students with needs that simply don’t fit into the category so ‑ ‑ ‑

MS PRICHARD:   Yes.  Does not fit into those six categories, yes.

DR MELLIFONT:   Okay.  Mr Dale, the next challenge you mention is the reporting requirements of the NCCD.  Can you speak to that, please?

MR DALE:   Very briefly because, as Loren said before, there’s a requirement that teachers make adjustments for the students, and there’s also a requirement that there’s some reporting of those adjustments as well.  High school teachers can teach up to 150 students.  Those students are doing a range of different subjects and, therefore, require a range of different adjustments, possibly for each subject as well.  It’s – it’s a huge task and it leads onto what Pam was saying about staffing and the complexity of – of schooling compared to what it used to be.  With the staffing model, if I can just go down that line for a moment as well.


MR DALE:   There is a bit of a band aid solution at the moment in respect to that schools are given some discretionary funding through a system called Investing for Success.  It’s based on the Gonski scheme of money coming through the schools, and schools use that to supplement staffing within schools to – to do programs such as co-teaching and other initiatives that are happening throughout schools.  However, sometimes, the complexity outweighs the funding.


DR MELLIFONT:   Sure.  Thank you.  And your statement also reflects some of the other observations made already today about teacher workload, funding and staffing being linked to EAP, time demands on teachers to develop individual programs of learning and assessment, and the available time for staff to work collaboratively to develop quality programs and pedagogical practices?

MR DALE:   It is a real changed teaching environment to what it was when I was beginning teaching 30 years ago.  I was, rightly or wrongly, very much a solo teacher.  I did my own planning, I taught my own class, and I had knowledge of my own students.  And it’s a very collaborative approach now.  And it’s fantastic quality of teaching and learning that’s happening in schools right throughout Queensland at the moment.  But there’s a demand on the teachers with that.  And there’s a huge amount of workload associated with that, as well.

DR MELLIFONT:   I don’t want to deprive you of any time with respect to the next topic, which is to tell me what you would like to see come out of the Commission, but I do want to come to you, Mr Dale, about your own personal experience in co‑teaching back when you were teaching, because you had a direct comparison experience between a co-teaching class on a subject and a class that wasn’t co-taught.  Are you able to tell the Commission the difference in results?

MR DALE:   I – when I was teaching?

DR MELLIFONT:   Is that correct?  Have I got this right?

MR DALE:   30 years – I can’t remember.  I was a phys ed teacher ...

DR MELLIFONT:   No worries.  Perhaps I’ve got the wrong example. 

MR DALE:   Yep.

DR MELLIFONT:   But in terms of the co-teaching – and this is an important thing.  It’s coming up constantly.  Is anybody able to speak to the comparison between benefits to students and teachers of that co-teaching model, compared to the non-teaching?

MS PRICHARD:   Well, I can speak to it, because I co-taught most recently.  And – and the expectations are definitely – yeah.  There’s an increase in expectations of both planning and delivery of instruction when you’re co-teaching, but you also have to work very collaboratively with the other teacher.  And that relationship you establish with your co-teaching partner is really important.  And, finding that time, you really need to be flexible and negotiable around – around finding that time and negotiating that time and using that time effectively to co-plan and co-reflect on the student’s progress in your class.  And then decide on – okay – the next level of instruction.  What’s that going to look like?  Am I going to be doing – you know, what differentiation is required?  What focus teaching or – or intensive teaching is required in my next lesson and the lesson after that and the following lesson?


COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   Are the co-teachers equal partners or equal in status ‑ ‑ ‑

MS PRICHARD:   Yeah.  They sure are.  So no ‑ ‑ ‑

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   ‑ ‑ ‑ or is one senior, one junior?

MS PRICHARD:   ‑ ‑ ‑ is – even when I taught in that co-teaching partnership, I did not go in there as a principal;  I went in there as a teaching colleague.  And my practice reflected that relationship with that co-teacher.  I was very conscious of not dominating the amount of time that I provided instruction or the direction of the lesson or the management of student behaviour in the classroom.  That was definitely shared equally with my co-teacher. 

So that’s very different.  And I know when I taught outside of a co-teaching relationship, I can echo Grant;  you definitely taught in a silo.  You delivered your curriculum.  And, generally, it was delivered mid-field.  There wasn’t a lot of differentiation and there wasn’t a lot of recording of that differentiation or a reflection of the student’s progress per lesson, and then a change of instruction for the next lesson and so forth. 

You did – you did it by yourself.  You didn’t share your practice with other teachers.  Teachers didn’t come in and watch your practice.  But co-teaching you definitely learnt from each other.  And I both co-taught with Catherine, which was wonderful.  I learnt many, many strategies around managing behaviours of students with disability and those without disability, as well.  Also, our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students as well, and – and classroom management strategies, learning strategies, learning styles.  I also learnt a lot off our first-year teacher, as well.  So she came with expertise that I learnt – that I could learn from, as well.  So ‑ ‑ ‑

DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.

MS PRICHARD:   ‑ ‑ ‑ that’s why I think I’m such an advocate, because I definitely walk the talk.  And the success rates, the pass rates, the attendance rates and the behaviour of our classroom, of our Year 8 history class, was exceptional and continued to improve.

DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.


DR MELLIFONT:   Mr Dale, I apologise.  It was Mr Bates who was telling me about his positive co-teaching experience.

MR DALE:   Okay.  No problems at all.


DR MELLIFONT:   Barristers should never rely on their memories;  they should just rely on their notes.  Ms Fenoglio, can you tell us what you would like to see come out of the Commission?

MS FENOGLIO:   Moving forward, my expectation is the ongoing implementation of the 17 key recommendations from the Deloitte’s review.

DR MELLIFONT:   And you’re going to slow down just a touch?


COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   All those recommendations have been accepted in principle, have they not, by the Queensland Government?

MS FENOGLIO:   It will be a journey and a long journey to see the implementation.  I wouldn’t like to see our energy fade halfway along.  An ongoing consideration and implementation of the Queensland Department of Education policy statement and the journey associated with the nine principles outlined in that statement.  A decreased reliance on para professionals, for example teacher aides, to monitor and deliver learning to the most vulnerable of our young people, which includes students with disability. 

Differentiated teaching and learning, enabling all students to access and engage with the Australian curriculum and participate in age-appropriate learning with peers.  The Every Student Succeed in State School strategy is relevant for all students.  The Every Student with Disability Succeeding strategy reinforces the inclusive position.  I will celebrate when the latter policy statement is totally subsumed within the first. 

In terms of improvements which would specifically assist Ingham High overcome barriers for the future, it’s all around resourcing.  And it’s resourcing for planning, collaboration, co-teaching and professional learning.  There are key words and messages that keep appearing across these last few days.  As principal, I have the autonomy and the moral imperative to address every student succeeding with every opportunity that I am given.  Within the constraints of my resourcing constructs, I have the ability to manipulate and manoeuvre, be flexible and use my resourcing to target the areas best needed on a day-to-day basis. 

Recently, I was asked to put a nominal dollar value on educating a student with a disability.  As I explained, this is not only impossible, it is an immoral challenge.  Resources need to be allocated and flexible enough to be reallocated wherever the need is greatest on any given day, week, month or yearly basis.  It needs to ensure that we best meet the needs of every student in every classroom, every day.  Principals require the autonomy to make such decisions to best suit the context of the student population currently enrolled at their school. 

Co-teaching is an evidence-based strategy widely recognised in the research to improve learning outcomes for all students, particularly students with disability when


implemented in general classrooms.  Consideration of the staffing allocative model is required to resource co-teaching and the associated co-planning, co-delivery and co-reporting.  Coordinated opportunities within the timetable day for school-based professional learning, including access to online engagement with the likes of TED talks or engagement with blogs, with experts from the field like Paula Kluth or Julie Causton. 

Engagement with the research is essential to strengthening practice.  We would never consider accessing the services of medical practitioners who did not keep abreast of current research trends and updated use of technologies, so why should we be any different in education? 

Special schools are not within my sphere for reference.  Currently I am principal of a school in a rural location where a special school is not an option, and so every student within our community is entitled to enrol and attend our school, and has an expectation that a quality education will be provided.  This is a challenge, but a challenge that we don’t walk away from.  No teacher at Ingham High aspires to be a special education teacher working within a model that segregates students for the purpose of learning.  Special education training may be an advantage, but it’s not a requirement for good pedagogy and quality teaching and learning. 

An expert teaching team, given the right resourcing and targeted and ongoing professional learning, will build the capability to differentiate the delivery of the Australian curriculum.  A whole school-approach supports all students accessing support when and as required.  No teacher walks into a classroom expecting to find 25 young people with identical learning needs and learning expectations.  Teacher expertise is being able to deliver a differentiated approach to meet the needs of these learners. 

As Grant mentioned earlier, focus on the data is a reference to the work of Lyn Sharratt and an approach we use at Ingham State High School to highlight each learner is an individual.  Every young person has a face and every young person deserves that their face is recognised.  In terms of facilities, I’ve already mentioned the Ingham High architecture is not designed to support physical access for students, or in fact clients, including parents and caregivers, with physical disability.  This is a major issue ‑ ‑ ‑

DR MELLIFONT:   Just slow – sorry – just slow down a smidge.


MS PRICHARD:   She gets excited.

MS FENOGLIO:   I do get excited.  This is a major issue compounded by asbestos and multistorey buildings and a random eclectic collection of pathways and rooflines, which may or may not provide wet weather access around certain parts of the school, a real complication for students using electric wheelchairs.  And I have


one at the moment, I had two recently and I have more coming next year.  Ingham is noted for the prevalence of wet weather, cyclones and flooding.  And for that purpose we host a cyclone shelter on our school grounds. 

Coming out of the Royal Commission, my main interest is all around leadership.  Within a secondary school setting, a principal is assisted by deputy principals and heads of department.  Heads of special education sit parallel to this organisational structure.  At Ingham High we have informally renamed our HOSES HOD Inclusive Practices, which nominally addresses the complication.  An inclusive schooling model requires a head of department closely aligned with the school leadership team.  This requires HR and industrial review to rewrite the HOSES role description and associated award and employment conditions to align with that of head of department colleagues.  It is different and it shouldn’t be. 

Segregated staffing models for teachers and teacher aides also need to be removed, as currently we have students allocated to SEP models which no longer exist.  Quality leadership enables transformational change.  I seek a reunited commitment to enhance leadership capability for school leaders to create high performing-inclusive schools.  I advocate to establish a system where opportunities to provide principals with coaching to reflect on their instructional leadership actions and synergise these with inclusive practices is established and maintained. 

Consideration of a model of instructional coaching to support principals and meet them at their level of capability development offers targeted and ongoing support until all barriers are challenged.  Research suggests that schools are more successful when leaders actively guide their school towards more inclusive schooling practices and meet their specific responsibilities as equity leaders to establish a strong foundation in student-centred planning, quality curriculum and pedagogical practices.  This is my blue sky dreaming.

DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.  Chair, look, I will need to ask to be able to sit another 10 minutes past 4.30 today, so that Ms Prichard and Mr Dale are able to tell us what they wish.  I can indicate that Ms McMillan doesn’t have any cross-examination.  Thank you.


DR MELLIFONT:   Yes.  Thank you.


MS PRICHARD:   I have six and you’ve heard some of them.  So the introduction of a more simplistic and flexible resource model moving to an as‑needs basis throughout the year as a method of resource allocation to schools to support students with disability and also our students with additional learning needs.  Increase in the recognised and scope of the EAP categories and NCCD as a method of resource allocation for schools.  And this is the mandatory training one that I spoke earlier


about.  I think there should be an introduction of an annual mandatory training for teaching and also for support staff in the Disability Standards for Education. 

Review of our staffing allocation to schools, resulting in an increased teacher allocation, that is directly aligned to the complexity of student learning and behavioural needs.  And that needs to be done on student enrolment.  To further support the growth of teaching, which I would like to see in and across schools, an additional time for our teachers to prepare for the instructional and the access adjustments and modification for students with disability and to provide the personalised learning required to fulfil those diverse capabilities of each student. 

I would like to see a review of the school-based medical practitioners, including our school nurses allocated to schools, and the application process for our allied health services to better support the daily medical and the toileting and feeding needs of our students with disability.  With – I would also like to – schools to have a look at including targeted training for specific disabilities, and including the universal design for learning the UDL framework and training in trauma-informed practices to support our teachers with developing improved capability to differentiate the teaching and learning, and also the effective behaviour management and support for all of our students. 

And finally is to revisit and continue to remain committed to the full implementation of the 17 recommendations from the Disability Review.  There needs to be accountability measures and quality assurance processes.  They need to be explicit to ensure implementation of the recommendations remain authentic and also remain sustainable.

DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you, Ms Prichard.  Mr Dale?

MR DALE:   I won’t go over the many points that have been covered and I fully support all of those points.  Just from a holistic point of view to start off with, I would really like to see that the Terms of Reference of the Royal Commission be met.  I think that is a – that’s – that’s the first outcome that we need to get from the Royal Commission.  With – with that being met, I’m sure that we will have covered many of the other specific challenges that have been mentioned already.  In respect to education, though, once again, thinking a little bit more holistically, I would like to see that – that there’s a improved community perception of the role and purpose and importance of schooling in Australia. 

I struggle with the amount of negative media that schooling gets in Australia.  I think we keep degrading and downgrading the system.  We need to talk positively.  There’s some wonderful stories happening right across Australia.  We have fantastic kids.  There’s plenty of success stories.  We need to be highlighting those and making sure everyone can meet that high standard as well.  That’s a possible outcome out of the Royal Commission as well.  And just supporting what’s been said before, there’s some systemic and administration changes that can occur.  There’s – one of the ones that hasn’t been mentioned today is about the ability to and ease of


accessing data for diverse groups of students within your school without doing so much interrogation to get that data.  That would be a system I would like to see. 

And, of course, on the human resourcing side – or the resourcing side of things to allow for that collaborative work that’s happening at the moment.  Probably my – my last observation, and my last comment and something that I’m sort of proud of, is that I don’t know what – who the students are with disabilities at my school.  I – I used to know at previous schools and when I first started at Thuringowa because they were the students that sat on the table outside the special education unit every lunchtime.  I would see them.  Now, I probably couldn’t identify students that are – that are verified with a disability, or who exactly is on the – the data list, and I think that’s an achievement in itself.  So we’ve all started our improvement journey and – and the Queensland Education Department is very much part of that, that every student succeeding, and we tend not to talk in labels any more.  We talk about every student.

DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.  So your last observation, just so we make sure it’s not taken out of context, is, when you say you can’t identify students within your school as having a disability, what you’re communicating to the Commission is you now have such a process of inclusion within your school that all students are part of the general cohort and students are students?

MR DALE:   That’s exactly right.

DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.  That’s the evidence.

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   Thank you very much, each of you, for coming to the Commission and giving evidence and expressing your views so clearly and, occasionally, forcefully.  Thank you very much.

DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.  May we, as the Commission, extend our gratitude to all of the witnesses who have given evidence today.  They met and gave their time to us last week as well.  We’re very appreciative.

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   Yes.  Thank you very much for all that preparation.  We do appreciate it.  Thank you. 

MS McMILLAN:   Might I also mention, if I could, that the principals also came back early from their vacations in order to access information on such short notice for the inquiry to fulfil notices.  So perhaps that might be mentioned.

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   Yes.  We add our further appreciation for that.  That seems the ultimate sacrifice, I must say.  Thank you.

<THE WITNESSES WITHDREW                                                                                                                    [4.34 pm]


DR MELLIFONT:   10 o’clock tomorrow morning, you will have Ms Eastman of Senior Counsel.  I’ll be here too.  And we will hear from Ms Dunstone.

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   Is Ms Dunstone the only witness for tomorrow?


COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   And I think we are planning to finish no later than 3.30 in the afternoon tomorrow.

DR MELLIFONT:   That’s so, yes. 


DR MELLIFONT:   Thank you.

COMMISSIONER SACKVILLE:   All right.  Thank you.  We will adjourn until 10 o’clock tomorrow.  Thank you.