Department hits back

LEARNING: Students at Kalianna School Bendigo. Picture: JODIE DONNELLAN

LEARNING: Students at Kalianna School Bendigo. Picture: JODIE DONNELLAN

TEACHERS are sufficiently supported to teach children with autism, says the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development.

Regional director Jeanette Nagorcka said the Bendigo region had an educational autism coach, an Autism Connect program and professional development programs for teachers to learn new skills about teaching children with disabilities. 

"In a classroom we know there will be children with all different abilities and that includes children with disabilities," she said.

"The whole system endeavours to meet the needs of every child. 

"It's all about individualised learning."

She said the Autism Connect program involved linking teachers from different schools to share their knowledge about teaching children with autism and provide advice.

The autism coach visited schools to provide advice.

Ms Nagorcka's comments come after prominent disability advocate Julie Phillips criticised the department in a visit to Bendigo last week.

Ms Phillips stood by her criticism on Tuesday, telling the Bendigo Advertiser while individual learning plans were being developed, there was a lack of consistency in their implementation.

"Each school is left with their own devices to work out how to develop one," she said. "It's clearly something that needs to come from the top." 

Ms Phillips also said it was unacceptable people didn't need any qualifications to become a teacher's aide. She said she knew of cleaners and canteen workers who had been assigned to the role.

"Dealing with challenging behaviour is a skill - it is not something that comes naturally to people," she said.

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