MECS Blog

Stakes and Trellises... supporting learning at MECS

Stakes and Trellises... supporting learning at MECS

Thursday, 2 May 2019  | Educational Support

Tomatoes... what have they got to do with supporting students in their learning?  Probably very little, but as a metaphor, they are helpful!  Harvesting the last of our tomatoes during the holidays, the variation between varieties, and even within the fruit from the same bush, kindled feelings of wonder, amazement, and appreciation for God’s design. Consider the different varieties - their growing habits and requirements, the variation of characteristics such as colour, juiciness, purpose and taste; the harvest that is spread over the season... early ripening and those that hang on right to the end, and the potential future from just one seed!

This same rich array of variations is evident in our students. “ALL children are created by God and are unique in His sight. In a fallen world with imperfections in all areas of life, it is in Christ that God accepts us as we are. In the school setting this means that we believe that all children are precious individuals, and should be encouraged and challenged to be faithful to God, fulfilling His purpose for their lives.”

This powerful statement articulates the biblical perspective of  the MECS Educational Support policy, and whilst all students are supported in their learning, the requirements differ. Some need ‘staking & tying’ to support their learning ‘growth’; others need to be allowed to ‘free-range’ over a trellis. Some mature early, and others require a longer season.

In the Primary school, the way Education Support is delivered has been significantly reshaped to meet the changing needs of our student community. Alison and Louise are co-coordinators of what is now known as ‘The Greenhouse’. Alison operates from ‘The Shed’ providing staff and parents with assistance in supporting student learning through the careful identification of learning needs and the formulation of strategies to further enhance student achievement. Louise works in the ‘Butterfly Centre’, providing a specialised programme to support students with diverse learning needs. Mic provides engaging learning opportunities using the technology available in the STEAM room. Rachel provides much needed administrative support and is often at the other end of the phone or email answering parent enquiries. Within every primary classroom, dedicated learning assistants are working alongside our teachers to cater to the individual learning needs of each of our students.

In the Middle school, the changing characteristics of adolescents is acknowledged, and the Education Support program looks different. The Jenga program is a flexible learning environment that supports a number of students in English or Maths, or through the Off-Campus Day program. Their learning is cultivated by Education Support teacher Sue, Jenga teachers Tim and Matt, and Secondary School education support coordinator Jo. A second model operates in many classrooms, where our learning assistants team up with teachers to provide the support. Additionally, some students have ‘study periods’ to work 1:1 or in a small group with a learning assistant, finding the quiet space of the study rooms effective.

In the Senior school, in response to the increased independence of our learners, the team and support has yet another look. The Education Support teacher, Connie, works with a team of learning assistants working in classes or 1:1, and also with our ‘Uber Tutors’. The Uber Tutor program is a casual ‘book-as-you-need’ support model. Weekly tutoring is available upon request as additional support, and is formalised through a parent agreement.

3D Enrichment – Deepen, Dream, Design

The variety of 3D programs offered in the Primary and Middle schools seek to develop in students a deepening interest in learning, and challenge them to faithfully ‘grow’ their God-gifted talents. The 3D curriculum offers enrichment in a range of disciplines, and includes the Tournament of Minds program.

Gardening ‘gurus’ (our Visiting Professionals)

If the teaching staff consider that your child would benefit from additional support from a professional with specific expertise, we will discuss this with you. Alison, Louise and Jo, as coordinators, work alongside parents and teachers to ascertain the most appropriate pathway to access this additional support. We have occupational therapists, speech therapists, psychologists and social skills specialists that come into our school weekly to support our students.

NDIS and the school

The NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) is a federally-funded program offering support to parents and their children at home and in the community. These funds cannot be used for schooling, but services funded by the NDIS can be delivered at school during school hours by the appropriate professionals. These services include occupational therapy, speech therapy, social skills development, and counselling. If your child is receiving support at school, they MAY be eligible for NDIS funding. If you would like to know more, please contact Louise, Alison or Jo, as we have brochures and other information provided by the National Disability Insurance Agency for this region.

If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s development, or would like to know more about the enrichment programs, we encourage you to make an appointment with Alison, Louise, Jo, or the classroom teacher for a chat. As teachers, we are all gardeners... in Education Support, we specialise in ‘growing on’, offering the particular supports and conditions that enhance your child’s learning.

“Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! The variety is wonderful”. 1 Corinthians. 12:47 (The Message).


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