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Our school

Darling Point Special School focuses on educational programs directly related to individual student strengths, interests and needs, including special needs, cultural priorities and personal aspirations. Inclusion, equity, life quality and quality outcomes give purpose to our attention to evidence-based teaching approaches.

The enrolment of students aged between 5 and 18 years is 117 students and represents an upward trend, particularly in the early and middle years of the school.

Students who attend the school have intellectual disability, or global development delay in the case of young children, as their primary focus of support needs. Many students have additional learning support requirements related to autistic spectrum disorder, hearing, vision, physical impairment, as well as health issues, particularly epilepsy, cardiac issues, diabetes, asthma and allergies and anaphylaxis.

Students’ strengths, interests and needs are the focus of the school's curriculum planning, teaching and individual targets, goals and expectations, directly linked to the school’s curriculum plan and the Australian curriculum. Goals and targets are developed collaboratively amongst parents, students and staff within a transdisciplinary framework.

The school prides itself on the way that positive behaviour support methodologies are embedded in teaching practices and school philosophy. The staff team is engaged in an ongoing action research project in partnership with Dr Gary LaVigna, Institute of Applied Behaviour Analysis, California, to develop, refine and pilot a generic multi-element plan and data analysis protocol, that aim to maximise positive student behaviours without the extreme time commitments required of individual functional behaviour analysis processes. To date, the outcomes are encouraging. 

Functional, authentic curriculum is a key priority especially in the areas of social and coping skills, communication including augmentative and alternate systems, and preparation for life in home, community, relationship, environmental and science applications, work and leisure domains.

The school council with elected staff and parent representatives together with the principal, Parents’ and Citizens’ (P&C) Association chair, and appointed members, provides positive and supportive leadership and strategic planning advice and oversight for the school, through the principal in her role as chief executive officer and the minister’s delegate on campus.

The school has an active P&C Association that raises funds for special projects and resources, manages the uniform shop, assists in co-management of school events, and provides a familiar and welcome parent presence in the school. Mr Arthur Haynes-Lovell (AOM) is the patron of the P&C Association, having succeeded hon. Tom Burns, MP.

Highlights of the school year include the annual fun run along the waterfront which attracts students from across the greater metropolitan area, the Gold and Sunshine coasts, and Toowoomba. Since the inaugural event organised by the school in 1977, numbers have steadily increased each year so that well in excess of 1000 students attend this event, together with their school and family supporters. As well, the school celebrates its multi-cultural heritage with a special Harmony Day parade and community morning tea each March. The school senior scouts troupe present a musical performance annually and all students display at least one art work at the annual art show and cocktail party each October. End of year class celebrations include the annual senior formal dinner each December where graduating students are affirmed for their individual achievements and transition to life beyond school in the workplace and/or further learning and activity programs. Access to community gardens and business and domestic properties in the local area provides students with an opportunity to participate in an extensive horticultural, land and garden care program while promoting environmental awareness.

Students enjoy life skills programs both on campus and in the community. Philanthropic donations together with the P&C Association have provided the school with two vans which enable all students to effectively access the community. Additional transport support for students to access programs is achieved through a partnership with Townsends’ school transport service, and through the use of Brisbane city council bus services, trains, and taxis.

Graduate destinations for students expanded following the introduction of focused vocational education programs in the senior school. During the transition from school to community life, all post-compulsory students have individual transition goals that are confirmed in their senior education and training plan (SETP) and curriculum plan aligned to the Queensland certificate of individual achievement (QCIA). These goals include linkages to support agencies and employers as students and their families are provided with maximal support to facilitate successful transition their preferred destinations in open employment, supported employment or activity-based options.

Since achieving Independent Public School (IPS) status, the school has been able to establish a pilot transition from school to the life of work and maximised independence project that replicates in many ways, the STEP employment service in California. The school’s STEP-UP program has operated since the beginning of the 2013 school year and whilst reflecting the best practice criteria of STEP, it also takes account of local contextual, environmental and political and policy conditions. The school community has taken a lead role in establishing in partnership with help enterprises, the local ROAD program which likewise mirrors the STEP employment service. These are but one outcome already of the school’s IPS status.