The school’s committed teaching staff and the broader community provide the students with an education that empowers them with life choices
This year’s Education Week celebrates collaboration between schools and local communities, and the outstanding partnership between the Victorian College for the Deaf and the deaf community is an excellent example.
The Victorian College for the Deaf is a special school specifically for students who are deaf or have severe hearing loss.
Most of the school’s students are born into hearing-abled families — meaning that they grow up in a home where they do not share the same language as their families.
This affects their sense of belonging, identity, feelings of isolation and wellbeing, which can make them vulnerable learners.
The college saw an opportunity for improved wellbeing and learning and consulted with students, the deaf community, parents and deaf language experts.
Together they identified the communications challenges that families faced, particularly around understanding and using the extensive resources available.
The college worked with deaf community experts to create a relevant, accessible and efficient curriculum to teach families Auslan over 20 weeks, either in person, online or via video.
The first pilot program was adjusted to meet the demands of the 12 participants’ busy home lives in November — December 2020.
The families were given access to trained deaf tutors, handbooks and resources that focused on activities they could share with their child.
College Principal Margaret Tope was overwhelmed by the excitement of the students and their families.
‘The results really have exceeded any expectation we could have ever had — it developed a culture that helped our families feel connected, supported and empowered,’ she said.
Following the success of the pilot, the opportunity to learn Auslan was promoted to the wider school community in February 2021.
More than half of the college’s families wanted to participate, including families from Arabic, Vietnamese, Tigran, Lebanese, Burmese, Filipino and Pakistani backgrounds.
Many parents spoke to how important the program had been to their family.
‘It really has changed my life, I now have the confidence to learn Auslan and I cannot be more grateful to the college for this opportunity,’ one parent commented.
The program will continue in 2021 and keep looking at ways of bringing students and their families closer together.
Education Week celebrates the theme ‘Building Connections’.
It is an opportunity for all primary and secondary schools, higher education, and early childhood services to showcase how they are building
Education Week will run from 23-29 May.
Find out more
For more information, visit the
Victorian College for the Deaf.
Families learning together on Thursday morning at Victorian College for the Deaf. The tutor is Matthew (standing) , the three participants (left to right) are mothers, Ivy, Joyce and Iman.
Students whose families learn on a Tuesday evening class are (left to right) Sabrin, Aisha and Najar.