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Mount Ommaney Special School (QLD) WINS $50k Schools First Impact Award for Song Room partnership

Winners for the NAB Schools First Award winners for 2011 were announced 15th September 2011 and Mount Ommaney Special School (QLD) was one of 60 schools to receive a $50,000 Imact Grant. Mt Ommaney Special School and The Song Room (TSR) partnered to engage students with severe and multiple impairments in drama, through storytelling and dramatic play. Students from Prep-Grade 12 participate in weekly drama sessions that are proven to provide innovative opportunities to create and connect with the world around them. The school aimed to improve students’ access to the proven benefits of arts programs in addressing complex needs; and develop staff skills, knowledge and confidence to deliver their own arts-focused programs in the future.

What the judges said: “This very worthwhile project shows clear links between the identified student need, program activities, and intended outcomes. The partners have learned from each other and the program that has been implemented is a collaborative effort.”

The school implemented a 6 month in-school drama workshop program, delivered by Teaching Artist Belinda Berrington, in consultation with school experts in education for complex needs students. Student engagement in the program was assessed using a unique method of measuring ‘Moments’ (instances of profound understanding), where a student shows interest in an activity. These responses are quite different for each child. They may focus for a second on a book, scan with their eyes or allow a mask to be placed on their face, while looking in a mirror. There were significant increases in student responses over the duration of the workshop sessions.

The workshop program was followed by an 18 month mentoring program, in which Belinda worked closely with class teachers in planning and delivering their own drama sessions using her drama expertise and resources. Remarkably, 6 school teachers are now directly using drama in their lesson plans, which is a 600% increase compared to 2009, when no teachers at the school had these skills.

With NAB Schools First Award Funds, the school and The Song Room will now develop an innovative school performance and online teaching resource, via video compilation. Footage from TSR lessons, planned around a common theme, will be edited and produced to create a video performance, providing an opportunity for students to connect and communicate with their peers and school community in a non-threatening, celebratory environment. The video and associated resources will also provide a model that demonstrates innovative extension and enhancement of the schools teaching pedagogy through the arts. The Song Room will publish specific resources from this project on its Award-winning arts education site

About NAB Schools First:
NAB Schools First is brought to life by NAB in partnership with the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) and Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER). At its heart, NAB Schools First brings together students, teachers, parents and community members to help young people grow. Launched in October 2008 by the Hon. Julia Gillard, MP, NAB Schools First is a national awards program pledging $15 million over three years.

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