School marks 30th anniversary

Amber Ritchie, principal Suzanne Armstrong, Callan Jackson, teacher Katrina Brooks, Lockie Murrell, Brent Foster, Meghan Houtsma, Brendan Hus and leading teacher Fran Permezel from Colac Specialist School which is turning 30 this year.

Amber Ritchie, principal Suzanne Armstrong, Callan Jackson, teacher Katrina Brooks, Lockie Murrell, Brent Foster, Meghan Houtsma, Brendan Hus and leading teacher Fran Permezel from Colac Specialist School which is turning 30 this year.

A COLAC school is celebrating its 30th anniversary of helping students reach their potential.

Colac Specialist School leading teacher Fran Permezel said the Department of Education originally set the school up for residents of Colac’s Colanda Centre.

Ms Permezel said teaching priorities and student ages were among the biggest changes in the school’s 30-year history.

“A lot of programs revolved around self-help activities. We did skills, including literacy skills, but it was not a priority,” she said.

“Some of the students were older, some in their 30s,” she said.

Ms Permzel said government legislation had changed, putting an 18-year-old age cap on students who could attend specialist schools, so the school had to have a restructure.

“We have got kids from five years to 18 years,” she said.

“Because it has evolved, there have always been challenges.

“It allowed us to focus a bit more on academic progress.”

Specialist School Council’s Beth Rowe said the school environment had been the best thing for her 15-year-old son Josh.

“He has just blossomed. Out of four children he is the happiest to go to school which is nice,” she said.

Ms Rowe said her son enjoyed his classes including cooking and using technology.

“Cooking is a big motivator, I don’t think there is any activity he doesn’t like,” she said.

“Josh has got atypical cerebral palsy. His favourite thing is using the iPad, the school has really embraced technology.”

Ms Rowe said the school focused on boosting the confidence of children and had an emphasis on their abilities.

”The focus of a specialist school is not their disability but their ability, what they can do.”

Ms Permzel said the school had a main focus on addressing individual students’ needs.

“All our children have an individual program, we always know where our kids are at, what sets ours apart is individualising our students’ program,” she said.

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