Bright Career Opportunity with Durham Road School

Bright Career Opportunity with Durham Road School

Centacare had the pleasure of having the Deputy Principal, Susan Moran, from Durham Road School to speak about a unique career pathway for CHC33015 Certificate III in Individual Support (Disability) students.

During Susan’s visit to Centacare West Perth, she generously donated her time to sit down with us to talk about the benefits of our partnership for our students and got to know more about Durham Road School. Susan has been working at Durham Road School for seven years, where she started as a teacher during the earlier years and later promoted to the Deputy Principal position. “It is a very dynamic workplace,” Susan commented, “students and their families are absolutely lovely, and we have terrific staff members. It is a very rewarding and fulfilling job to be in, no two days are the same!”

About Durham Road School

Image by Durham Road School

Durham Road School is the largest Education Support School in WA, with over 220 students across two sites. The school provides educational programs for students with intellectual disability, physical disability, sensory impairments, challenging behaviours and autistic spectrum disorders. To cater to their students individualised needs, they have approximately 200 staff members, many work on a part-time basis with over 130 staff on-site each day. Durham Road School ensures students get the support they require by allocating 28 classes of between three to ten students in each room staffed with a teacher and three Education Assistants. The School also has purpose-built playgrounds, individualised classroom setups, a swimming pool and a library. Student medical needs are supported by 5 onsite nurses.

The School motto is ‘Kids come first’, where the needs of their students must come first. The ‘Kids come first’ motto is embedded across their organisation and is behind every decision they make, from how they organise classes to staff allocation.  When asked about their organisational culture, Susan added, “If we are putting the students first then we know we are heading in the right direction.” In addition to the motto, the School also has a set of core values. “We also want to support our staff and we offer professional learning that is very specific to the skills that we know our staff need.”

Partnership with Centacare

Centacare has had a close partnership with Durham Road School for about a year. Centacare’s students who are completing their Certificate III in Individual Support course will have the opportunity to commence their work placements at Durham Road School. Centacare’s CHC33015 Certificate III in Individual Support (Disability) course provides students with the knowledge and skills they need to provide a supportive environment for clients with disabilities.

Deputy Principal, Susan Moran, from Durham Road School speaking to Centacare students.

“We really love having your students,” Susan remarked when asked about the partnership with Centacare, “we appreciate the support of Jennifer (Centacare’s Disability Trainer) and Sonia (Centacare’s Student Support Coordinator) for the thorough process of coordinating students to undertake their practical placement with us,” she continued. She also added that “there was an obvious connection with the work that we do, and the skills that we are looking for in our Education Assistants, that is really well aligned with the students who are doing a course in disability.”

“One of the issues we sometimes face is that people come to us having completed the Certificate course in Education Assistant, their skills are more suited for children that are quite capable and in a mainstream environment. So, we do need to have staff that can focus on the particular needs that someone with a particular disability might have. If they have a good understanding of the needs that present with a disability, we feel that we can build into their training the education side of their role,” she continued.

Susan recalled an experience with a past Centacare graduate, Mary. She said, “Mary did a work placement with us, and we identified that she also speaks Dinka language. We have a lot of Dinka speaking families, so we were able to place her in classrooms with students who are familiar with the Dinka language for communication and cultural support.  She was able to assist teachers with some of the words and communicate with the children as well. Then, at our parent-teacher meeting night, we require an interpreter for some of our families who do not speak English, but no one was available on that particular night. We asked Mary to come along and to interpret for some of the Dinka speaking families as they do not speak English at all. Mary was well presented and went to such a great effort to interpret clearly to the parents and teachers. The parents were delighted that she made such a huge effort to be part of the school community.”

Like many work placements, Centacare Certificate students who commence at Durham Road School will begin their work by learning. They will learn by observing, asking questions and getting involved with the student’s programs. They will then be placed into a classroom, either assisting students with Autism, intellectual disability and challenging behaviours, or working with students who have a physical disability and high medical needs.

Work placement opportunities at Durham Road School

Image by Durham Road School

Durham Road School requires many relief staff each day. “We have a huge need for skilled relief staff. It is a great opportunity for your students who think that this is the type of work they want to do. Once their work placement is completed, your students can apply for relief work with us and be paid as they continue to build their skills”, Susan explained. When asked about permanent employment opportunity after work placements, Susan replied, “Fixed-term and permanent positions are offered through a merit selection process. This involves a written application and interview. An extremely important attribute is to have good interpersonal skills. To be friendly, punctual, willing to take feedback, and to use a bit of initiative to ask questions because we don’t expect everyone to have the skills that they need when they first start with us. We understand it is a process that takes time to become a proficient Education Assistant. We expect various employment opportunities to arise and Centacare students will be well placed to cater for the needs of our students.”

The opportunity to partner with Durham Road School has opened up an alternative career pathway for Centacare’s disability support students after their studies. Students can embark on their career in providing care and support for clients in the home, residential establishments, clinics and hospitals. In addition, there is also this rewarding opportunity to work with children with disability as an Education Assistant at Durham Road School. Although it may not be suitable for everyone, if you are passionate about helping others in need and, as Susan stated, have the right attitude, this just might be the right career pathway for you.

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