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Learning Support

An integral part of Otaki College is its Learning Support Department. This Department has a wide range of responsibilities but its basic function is to assist all students to achieve to their potential. To enable this to happen, students whose needs fit outside that which the classroom is able to meet are individually assessed and where possible their needs are met. This can happen with adaption of programme or extension within the classroom or by individual or small group programmes. Specific programmes are elaborated on below. 

Identification of Students Requiring Support - Students are identified in the following ways:
a) Parents advising the school
b) Nationally standardised test such as PATs 
c) Contributing schools 
d) Teacher identification through classroom assessments and work 
e) School Guidance Committee 
f) Outside agencies such as Special Education, RTLB, MSD, ACC and hospitals 

Teacher Aides 
To enable this to occur, the department has on its staff very committed and able teacher aides. These teacher aides work both within classrooms and with individuals/groups outside the classroom. 

Collaboration
The Department works with other teachers and departments in the school to assist with programme and provide information on students requiring intervention. The department also works closely with family/whanau and other agencies to ensure the best outcome for the students. 

Programmes
1. Individually funded students 
These students receive individual funding for teacher aide hours. The teacher aides assist with such students both in the classroom and the Learning Support Unit. ORRS funded students also attract teacher time which allows the Head of Department to spend time both with the student and assisting other teachers/teacher aides with classroom materials adapted to suit their needs. Families/whanau of students receiving individually funding will be involved in their son’s/daughter’s IEP meetings with other external agencies such as Special Education and RTLB who are involved. 

2. Students with Special Needs (academic) 
Students who struggle to reach the academic level of their peers will be assisted by either remedial programmes (i.e. reading or maths) or with adapted work suited to their needs. This work will [parallel the topics being covered by their peers where possible. 

3. Students with Special Needs (physical & health)
The Learning Support Unit is equipped to enable students with physical/health needs to cope with their disabilities. The Unit is equipped with wheelchair accessible shower and toilet and can cater for students who need a rest space during the day. The teacher aides and the Head of Department are able to cope with students’ individual needs. Where a student has mobility difficulties, their programme or their classroom is adapted to allow them to enjoy as much of the curriculum as possible. 

4. Students with diagnosed behavioural problems
The Unit assists with students who have diagnosed behavioural problems such as ADHD by allowing them space to have time out before their behaviour causes problems in the classroom. In some cases such students will have additional funding to allow a teacher aide to be with them in some classes to assist them stay on track. 

5. Remedial Reading 
The remedial reading teacher is trained in reading development and uses a combination of traditional remedial methods combined with computer based programmes to assist students develop the necessary skills to cope in the classroom. The Department has access to the Lexia programme. Students come out of their classes to attend remedial reading either in small groups or individually. The classroom teacher is kept informed of student progress. 

6. Reader/Writer and Assistive Equipment arrangements and training 
Students requiring extra help for external NCEA assessments are processed through the Department. These students fall into two categories: 
a) Those with specific learning difficulties who require a reader/writer. Such students are generally very able students who have a specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia and who throughout their Year 9/10 years have shown a determination to overcome their disability and have put in extra effort and time to ensure their success. Students in this category MUST have a specific diagnosis and have a report from a testing specialist sanctioned by the Ministry to indicate this. The testing as of 2012 stood at about $400 per student. 
b) Students who require assistive equipment for externals will also need to be processed though the Department which works with outside agencies to allow this to happen. 

The remedial reading teacher ensures that the student is able to use a reader/writer and continues to have remedial reading where appropriate.
Students using assistive equipment will be encouraged to practise this skill within their classes. 

7. Remedial Maths 
Small groups of students who struggle with the basic concepts of Maths are taken out of the classroom and given help to allow them to understand the areas they are weak in and then return to the class. Some students who continue to struggle and who are significantly behind their peers may be put on an alternative programme long term either with the Department or with the help of correspondence work. In these cases if the students are in the Senior school, they will be put on a programme of Supported Unit Standards (see 9). 

8. Life Skills 
Life Skills is a two hour session with groups of four students who struggle in the mainstream classes either through academic difficulties and/or social difficulties. The students are taught basic group interaction and citizenship skills. The first part of the class focuses on a particular skill and then in the second part of the session students undertake a collaborative group exercise in life skills cooking using the interactive skills they have learnt about. 

The ultimate goal is that student will be able to use the skills both in the classroom and in their future independent living - The skills include: 
a) group skills: listening, sharing, taking turns, giving own opinions, valuing others’ points of view 
b) Independent living skills: cooking, food handling, hygiene, shopping, budgeting, banking, understanding time tables, eating out, using public transport 

9. Supported Unit Standards 
Supported Unit Standards are for senior students who are unable to achieve at the mainstream level. They enable students with assistance to gain credits towards NCEA Level One. They do not, however, count towards numeracy or literacy for Level One. 
The Standards come under four headings. Details of the individual standards can be found by following the links. 

Supported Learning - Interpersonal and Social Skills
http://www.nzqa.govt.nz/framework/explore/domain.do?frameworkId=76298 

Supported Learning - Perceptual Awareness Skills 
http://www.nzqa.govt.nz/framework/explore/domain.do?frameworkId=76299 

Supported Learning - Personal Care Skills
http://www.nzqa.govt.nz/framework/explore/domain.do?frameworkId=76300 

Supported Learning - Work and Community Skills 
http://www.nzqa.govt.nz/framework/explore/domain.do?frameworkId=76301
 

10. Te Ara Tika Mentoring
Mentoring is a programme designed to assist student with difficulties in accessing the curriculum because of poor work ethic and disorganisation that prevent learning. 
The mentor establishes a relationship with the student meeting with them on a regular basis, setting weekly goals with the student and monitoring their progress. The mentor will help set up routines such as having the appropriate gear for classes, how to enter a class without disruption and how to complete tasks independently. The mentor keeps in touch with the family/whanau of the students and works collaboratively to change the behaviours that are preventing learning. Students enjoy this individualised help and many have found the programme very helpful. 

11. Alternative Education Pathways programme
Where a student demonstrates continually an inability to modify their behaviour to fit within the bounds of acceptable classroom behaviour as defined by the PB4L system followed by the school (link to PB4L part of the website) and despite numerous interventions, the student may be removed to the alternative education programme. 
This programme is limited to five students at a time and focuses on students learning through correspondence programmes and on them acquiring social interaction skills that will enable them to adapt to classroom protocols. Students concentrate in the morning on their correspondence work and any additional special subject work set by the College. In the afternoons they follow a varied programme involving life skills topics, education outside the classroom, careers enquiry work and community service. 

Students are encouraged to set themselves both academic and social goals based on their aims for a future career. These aims are monitored with the student and reported back on to family/whanau, the school and the Ministry of Education. 

The majority of students return to school after 1 – 2 terms and settle into a more productive learning attitude. Where students do not make the necessary progress to return, the school meets with the family/whanau, other agencies and the student and looks at other possible solutions or placements.