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Teachers can make a difference to disabled


Special education teachers believe it is "socially just" for disabled students to be educated in mainstream schools and they know first-hand it can work.

Just being allowed to go to school like any other kid, transformed one girl's life, the disability royal commission public hearing was told on Wednesday.

The girl was lonely and isolated, refusing to take part in school classes and activities, Ingham high school's head of inclusive practices, Jewelann Kauppila told the commission.

"This young person's life last year was one where at home and at school we were having the same story.," Ms Kauppila said.

"She was working in a very isolated self, at home and at school she had withdrawn from participating in school events and at home."

The school brought in an autism coach and together with a case management team including the girl's doctor's and parents, they set about changing her life for the better.

After months of hard work and dedication, this year she was able to join her classmates at school camp.

"She is now 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.

"We know that we still have a journey to go, but it's so exciting. She is welcomed, she is safe, and she belongs to our local school."

The commission heard of numerous success stories, but also that some teachers continue to "resist diversity".

Loren Swancutt, regional head of the special education service, says reluctant teachers are failing to cater to the needs of disabled students.

"Individualised adjustments aren't necessarily fore-fronted and planned for - therefore the child cannot successfully engage in lessons," she said.

At least one school in Queensland has not yet introduced disabled students into their classrooms, she said.

The final day of Townsville hearings will be held on Thursday, with evidence from Deborah Dunstone, Education Queensland's assistant director general of disability and inclusion.

The commission will next sit for four days in Melbourne in December.

© AAP 2019

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