The Austin School provides educational programs for young people who are patients of Austin Health and Austin Child and Youth Mental Health Service (CYMHS).
It is a P – 12 school catering for students from 5 to 18 years and all students must be patients of the hospital.
The school has a range of programs including residential, day and sessional.
These currently include:
- Child Inpatient Program (CIP)
- Adolescent Inpatient Program (AIP)
- Paediatric Ward Programs
- Linking Education and Personal Development (LEAP) Program
- Return to Education and Vocation (REV) Program
- Social Education Program (SEP)
- Social Skills Program
Adolescent Inpatient Program
The Austin School provides an educational program for young people who are inpatients in the Austin Child and Youth Mental Health Service (CYMHS) Adolescent Unit. It is an integral part of the total program for inpatients providing an opportunity for adolescents to continue schooling by participating in a relevant and meaningful program.
On most days an hourly session is offered in the morning and a two hourly session in the afternoon. Up to ten students may be in the classes with two to three staff present.
In addition to the wide range of mental health conditions which bring young people to the unit, many have experienced educational, social and emotional problems at school. As such, the classroom program is flexible to ensure that the curriculum is appropriate and responsive to the individual academic, social and emotional needs of each young person. The classroom provides a safe and supportive environment which encourages student engagement and promotes positive relationships. The program is orientated towards achieving positive outcomes for each student.
Young people work with teachers to develop an Individual Learning Plan based on their interests, strengths and needs. In addition to negotiated tasks, students may participate in music, art, a combined secondary session, weekly excursions and group activities. Liaison often occurs with their home school and strategies are developed to assist their return to school or transition to a new educational setting.
Each student’s program takes into account their schooling history and current mental state. Medication regimes and the adolescent’s emotional and physical health impact on the nature and amount of schooling undertaken.
Child Inpatient Program
The Austin School provides a specialized educational program for children who are inpatients of the Statewide Child Inpatient Mental Health Service. Referrals to this program are accepted from any Child Youth Mental Health Service in Victoria, Southern NSW, and Tasmania, or from private child psychiatrists. The children are aged between 5 and 12 and attend a daily program at the school which is located adjacent to the Inpatient Unit.
The children work in a multi-age classroom with a team of teachers. Teachers in the school program observe each students’ behaviour in the classroom, and then provide appropriate educational activities designed to assist in the development of socially appropriate behaviours.
During the admission an Austin School teacher will liaise with:
- Teachers from the home school; who are consulted and informed about the child’s academic progress, behaviour, social skills and self-esteem.
- Parents; who are encouraged to be actively involved with any issues relevant to the educational program of their child.
Liaison may also occur between the Austin teacher and:
- Community Support Agencies
- Regional Office Personnel from the Department of Education who may assist in finding appropriate school placements where necessary
- Wellbeing Officers, School Psychologists and Social Workers who can provide support in school
Contact with schools is maintained through visits, telephone, email and video conferencing. Liaison is fundamental to the development of a consistent approach to meet student needs and achieve successful re-integration of students back into their home school.
The teachers are members of the Child Inpatient team, which includes: child psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists, speech therapists, medical and psychiatric nursing staff. The team works together to provide an integrated multidisciplinary program.
Individualised and co-operative educational programs are developed for each student based on their specific needs and interests. Each child is allocated a teacher who has the responsibility to liaise with the child’s home school and with the clinical mini team.
Paediatric Ward Programs
The Austin School provides an educational program for young people from 5 to 18 years who are paediatric patients of the hospital. They have been admitted to the hospital with a serious health problem that usually requires hospitalisation for a minimum period of three days. Young people are supported to improve their wellbeing, to make positive changes and to be successfully reintegrated into education or vocation.
The students suffer from a range of health problems including eating disorders, epilepsy, spinal and skeletal injury, acquired brain injury (ABI) and chronic illness. When able, enrolled students attend the classroom located on Ward 2 West, otherwise they are attended by the Austin teacher bedside. Other patients of school age within the hospital as well as young people admitted to the Royal Talbot Rehabilitation Hospital can also be referred for educational support.
The program provides an opportunity for students to:
- Continue their schooling when appropriate
- Develop strategies that will assist them in their return to school
- Have a positive educational experience
- Explore issues that may be impacting on their ability to engage in education or to maximise their learning opportunities
The Curriculum focuses on student wellbeing, self-awareness and management and social-awareness and management.
Linking Education & Personal Development
Linking Education and Personal Development (LEAP) is an activity based program that runs three days a week for eight weeks. LEAP has up to eight students aged 13-14 years and two teachers. Students must be clients of the Austin Child and Adolescent Mental Health (CYMHS) service and be referred by their Case Manager. There is also an Outreach component where students are visited at their base schools, as required, for up to three terms post program. Current students are also encouraged to attend their base schools on allocated days.
The program is suited to young people who are experiencing difficulties at school which may be leading to social challenges, low attendance or the risk of educational exclusion or disengagement.
The aim of the program is to re-engage students in a positive learning environment while enhancing personal skills and identifying educational and vocational goals and pathways. Students are provided with educational programs that reflect their individual needs.
The LEAP program has five main objectives:
- To re-engage students in a positive learning environment by providing an academic, social skills and activity based program.
- To enhance social development.
- To promote personal learning skills.
- To promote Literacy and Numeracy skills.
- To provide activities through excursions, outdoor education, physical education and the Arts.
The LEAP Program curriculum consists of the following elements:
- Differentiated: The program caters to the individual learning needs and capabilities of each student
- Emphasis on Literacy & Numeracy: Providing literacy and numeracy programs incorporating ICT as a learning tool
- Physical & Personal Growth: Weekly sessions that promote both personal and social development
Return to Education & Vocation
The Return to Education and Vocation (REV) program is an eight week part time program, for young people aged between 15 and 17 years. All young people who participate in the program are clients of Austin Child and Youth Mental Health Service (CYMHS) and referred to the program by their Case Manager.
The program is suited to young people who are not at school or experiencing difficulties at school which may be leading to social challenges, low attendance, or the risk of educational exclusion or disengagement.
The aim of the small group program is to re-engage students in a positive learning environment whilst enhancing skills that will enable them to re-connect with an appropriate educational or workplace setting. The activity based program encourages student engagement, resilience and personal skills to strengthen learning and relationships. Students participate in Music, Art, an adolescent health program, weekly excursions, work education sessions leading to work experience and group activities.
In addition to the wide range of mental health conditions which bring young people to Austin CYMHS, many have experienced difficulties at school which may be leading to social challenges, low attendance or the risk of educational exclusion or disengagement. As such, the REV program is flexible and responsive to the individual, social and emotional needs of each young person. Individual educational and vocational goals and plans are established which identify appropriate pathways back into school, vocational training or the work force.
At the completion of the program teachers provide outreach contact for up to three terms. This ongoing support aims to assist student transitions into new settings and help consolidate positive changes made during the program.
The Social Skills program is an educational program for primary outpatients of the Austin Child and Youth Mental Health Service (CYMHS). The session occurs once a week for two hours.
The timetable includes cooperative group tasks, Respectful Relationships activities, sport, and a themed activity every week.
The priority of the program is for the students to be engaged in a meaningful and educational experience with the focus on social skills. An individual learning plan is developed by the Austin teachers in consultation with clinicians, case managers, base school teachers, parents and students.
The Social Skills program aims to:
- Develop and practise appropriate social skills.
- Develop personal skills.
- Promote confidence and resilience.
The program emphasises skills such as:
- Promoting confidence and resilience.
- Developing emotional literacy.
- Fostering initiative and independence.
- Identifying personal strengths.
- Problem solving and help-seeking strategies.
The program is suitable for a student who:
- Has difficulty making or keeping friends.
- Can become isolated or withdrawn.
- Has difficulty negotiating, turn taking or sharing.
- Is anxious or worried.
- Has difficulty regulating their emotions.
Social Education Program
The Social Education Program (SEP) caters for primary aged students who are experiencing social, emotional and/or behavioural difficulties in their enrolled schools. These difficulties can include behaviours of concern, difficulties with emotional regulation and social interactions and/or school refusal/disengagement.
Children are referred to the program by the Child and Youth Mental Health Services (CYMHS) Outpatient Teams. Case Managers refer children to the program after consultation with their parents.
The SEP program is a part-time program that runs for one term, with the students expected to attend their base schools when not attending The Austin School. The curriculum is based on the Personal and Social Capabilities within the Victorian Curriculum and includes a range of self-regulation and social skill based frameworks.
The main focus of SEP is to:
Develop student’s emotional literacy and appropriate ways of expressing emotions
Explore and practice various forms of calming and self-regulation strategies
Develop and practice social interaction skills
Support a positive re-integration and participation within the base school environment.
SEP teachers visit the enrolled students in their mainstream schools and work collaboratively with various base school staff, such as the classroom teachers, student welfare coordinators and integration teachers, to develop positive support strategies for their students.
Social Education Program