A mutually beneficial partnership between Macquarie and St Thomas Catholic Primary School, Willoughby, has seen local school students benefit from a speech and language program that also offers Macquarie’s speech pathology students valuable in-field experience.
Since 2010 and each semester, two to four Macquarie speech pathology students attend the school one day a week during the school term offering group and individual services to children with identified speech and language difficulties. These include pronunciation of sounds, understanding and producing language verbally, and reading and writing.
The Principal of St Thomas Catholic Primary School, Jennifer McKeown, says the program has accommodated for students with simple needs, as well as those with more complex learning difficulties.
“Each year the program has expanded the provision of support for our students at St Thomas. In 2014 we were able to support children with a variety of needs across the Kindergarten to Year 6 spectrum.
“The Macquarie students who are allocated to our program have been able to clearly identify for our teachers the learning styles which will assist in remediating each child’s learning issues, but also support their approximation of grade appropriate responses when back in the classroom.”
The Macquarie students also provide input through staff meetings and a regular newsletter for the teachers of St Thomas, explaining the goals and activities undertaken in recent sessions so the children’s progress can be maintained in class.
“This practise has really increased the staff’s awareness of speech and language issues in their students; how to identify them, and how best to support them in the classroom setting,” said Eva Nemeth, Director of Clinical Education for the Masters of Speech and Language Program at Macquarie University.
“The program provides Macquarie’s speech pathology students with valuable real-life learning experiences that will give them deeper knowledge of the classroom setting and working with teachers.”