education.govt.nz

New LSCs find their stride

Issue: Volume 99, Number 10

Posted: 29 June 2020
Reference #: 1HA8dD

Education Gazette talks to two learning support coordinators who are enjoying the opportunities and challenges within their new roles.

Sara Badawi and Amy Russell enjoy working with other learning support coordinators in their cluster to meet the needs of learners in their community.

Sara Badawi and Amy Russell enjoy working with other learning support coordinators in their cluster to meet the needs of learners in their community.

Sara Badawi and Amy Russell are learning support coordinators (LSCs) at Glen Eden Intermediate School in Auckland. They were among the first tranche of LSCs to be allocated across the country as part of the Learning Support Action Plan 2019-2025.

Sara and Amy have taken similar pathways into the role. They completed the same course at university and enjoyed stints of teaching overseas before returning to New Zealand and working within the Resource Teachers: Learning and Behaviour (RTLB) service.

More access to support  

Sara says she was drawn to specialist teaching because she wanted to see more equitable access to learning support.

“For me it was the access to resourcing and the quality of teaching and learning and the mismatch between what students would get at some schools and not others, based on my experience. 

“That was what drove me to think how we could approach it in a more systemic way. That’s why I went into the RTLB service because I thought at least then I can hit a number of schools, rather than just being in one school.”

Sara believes the introduction of the LSC role has been a positive step towards providing more access to support for students who need it. She would love to see LSCs rolled out to all schools.

“It makes us really aware of wanting to do a good job so we can prove that this model really works and then hopefully that roll-out then continues,” agrees Amy.

Response to repeated requests

The LSC role has been established in response to requests over many years for a dedicated, funded, full-time learning support role in schools. The purpose of the role is to make sure that children and young people with mild-to-moderate neuro-diverse, or complex learning support needs, receive appropriate help when needed. 

As part of their role, LSCs help identify, understand and plan for the needs of these learners in their local communities, coordinating and simplifying access to the relevant services and resources. At a classroom, school and cluster level, they support and promote inclusive values and practices.

The set-up at Glen Eden Intermediate School is an example of how the LSC position can work well.

Amy and Sara worked with their senior leadership team to look at how the new LSC roles might work in their setting.

“Big picture, we’re working at a system level to get things running a bit smoother. But then there’s always the things that crop up on a day-to-day basis that mean we’re more reactionary in some aspects,” says Amy.

Sara agrees. “On a day-to-day level it does vary. Our aim is to be strategic and proactive in what we do and be quite planned and targeted, but we’re working with people, so we have to be responsive and reflective.”

Clear pathway

They are working on creating a clear pathway to identify the students who need to be included on the learning support register as well as using common language around describing the needs, challenges and strengths of those children.

Amy and Sara work closely with external agencies, the RTLB service and directly with teachers, teacher aides and students across the school – covering everything from professional development and day-to-day coaching for teacher aides, to establishing relationships with students’ families, to helping teachers support the diverse learning needs of every child in their class.

“We’ve used Google Read&Write as an ‘in’ into each of the classrooms as a Universal Design for Learning approach. We’re trying to look at it more as, ‘here are some tools that could be used universally to support the needs of all your students, but it might really help the needs of this particular learner’,” says Sara.

Learning Support Delivery Model in action

The LSCs are putting the Learning Support Delivery Model in action, working with early learning services, schools and kura in their cluster, in order to identify the needs and resources within their area. 

They work with the Ministry of Education’s learning support service managers and specialist teams as well as other agencies and providers to deliver joined-up and appropriate support. 

“Another big area that we’re looking at is transitions,” says Amy. “Being an intermediate school, we have 500-plus students arriving and leaving every year. 

“And that’s one of the beauties of having LSCs in every school in our Kāhui Ako: all 14 of us can communicate and collaborate so that the transition process between schools can be a lot smoother for students.”

Joint inquiry

Sara and Amy are pursuing a joint inquiry into finding out how the LSC role can achieve the greatest impact for all learners. 

While it was a little difficult initially coming into a new role that wasn’t widely understood by staff, both have found their stride and are enjoying the LSC position. 

“It’s great being based in a school – that sense of a community and the connections you can make with teachers, students and families,” says Amy.

About the LSC role

Introducing learning support coordinators in schools and kura is a key priority in the Learning Support Action Plan 2019-2025(external link). They are an integral part of the Learning Support Delivery Model(external link), a flexible and joined-up approach to learning support. 

Within their schools and clusters, learning support coordinators will build the capability of kaiako and teachers; identify and plan for the learning support needs of all learners; and be available to support learners and their whānau. 

The first tranche of Learning Support Coordinators started in January 2020.

Related article: “We’ve really been able to run”: The impact of learning support coordinators.(external link)

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BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 9:20 am, 29 June 2020

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