University and school connections: enhancing literacy development of primary aged children with challenging needs and the skills of special education teachers in training
This paper details a project undertaken by staff at Charles Sturt University (Bathurst), that involved two State Public Schools, in the central west of New South Wales. The project ran for more than two years. It was designed to enhance literacy development of primary aged children, who were considered to be at risk in regards to their literacy and literacy development. In addition, it aimed to develop skills and competencies in the university students majoring in special education, specifically in relation to developing their ability to plan and implement a literacy program for children with challenging needs. A key issue in establishing such a program was collaboration between the schools and the university, as well as the explicit links between the theory and practice in a non-practicum subject. Overall, the results indicate that such an exercise, although time-consuming to set up, put into place and monitor, is a worthwhile and valuable experience for university students. It has also enhanced connections between the university and local schools. The program promoted collaboration between university students, with an overall goal of developing a positive environment for reading, spelling and writing for the children involved in the program. A similar project is now being undertaken at Griffith University in Brisbane, with special education students undertaking a literacy program with school-aged secondary children with special needs.
Special Education Perspectives