Mosman Park School for Deaf Children (WA)

Mosman Park school enrols deaf and hearing students from kindergarten (2 year old) to seventh grade included. In 2009, it enrolled 215 hearing children and 17 deaf ones.
It’s a public school, funded by the state of Western Australia, so that the parents have to pay only $200 by year of enrollment fees.
Since it is the only public bilingual school in Western Australia, families sometimes drive a long distance especially to enrol their child (hearing as well as deaf) in this school, and come from a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds.
The educational staff, except from the administrative employees, comprises regular teachers, teachers for the deaf, speech teachers, audiologists and education assistants.
The educational program of this school is to integrate deaf and hearing students in same courses and to equally value Auslan and English, Deaf and Hearing cultures; the main objectif being for all children to be or become bilingual English / Auslan.
« The focus of the program is on what Deaf children can do in an environment in which being Deaf is seen as a socio-cultural difference, not a disability. All programs employ trained Teachers of the Deaf. We respect the role that parents play in their child’s development.
All programs encourage interaction between Deaf and hearing students and regard highly the inclusion of Deaf people as role models and mentors. »
Apart from the classes, Mosman Park School offers also a big range of extracurricular activities, where continues the interaction between deaf and hearing children. It comprises among other sports, swimming, soccer, cross, and a choir in English and Auslan.
Bilingual and bicultural program : main axis and benefits
Main axis :
– Speech and Auditory Training Program : A Speech teacher works with individual students to develop speech and listening skills. Targets are set for each student and generalised in the class setting.
– CODAS (Children of Deaf Adults) are in a unique situation. Sign language is their first language, even though they can hear from birth. Coda’s benefit from this bilingual program are very high because their first language is valued and so is their need to learn English competencies and culture.
– Auslan and Deaf studies : all student in Mosman Park Schools oncluding all deaf and hard of hearing and hearing students learn Auslan sign language and Deaf studies. This supports our Inclusive Model of Education.
Benefits :
– for hearing children : Learning a second language has many benefits for children both academically and socially. Sign language helps in the development of motor and visual spatial skills.
– for deaf children : Many deaf children have difficulties learning to read and write. To solve it, they have explicit teaching in Numeracy and Literacy every morning in a small group situation. The teacher for the deaf works also on programs for individual students. In English, teachers use conceptually accurate Auslan signs, in order to teach literacy. By this means, deaf children who have a strong foundation in sign language can also learn about English structures – which helps them to read and write.Speech and Auditory Training is also available – the support is optional and a decision is made by the child’s parents.
During the afternoons, the students are fully mainstreamed with their hearing peers.
So, on the morning, the deaf students have classes in small groups of 5-6 children from grade to grade. They have Literacy and Numeracy with a bilingual English/Auslan teacher for the deaf, who practice the two languages to support one’s learning by the other, and adapts his teaching to the students’ needs.
Deaf students can also have individual lessons if needed, and Auditory and Speech training.
The hearing students have classes in groups of 10-15 children with a regular teacher for the same programs.
On afternoons, deaf and hearing students are in the same class from grade to grade, with a regular teacher and/or a teacher for the deaf, and an education assistant, and all classes are fully given in English and Auslan until the end of school day.
Besides that, hearing students have Auslan and Deaf culture classes twice a week since they are 5 year old. Deaf students being already immersed in Auslan during mornings, they have only one specific Auslan class by week, where the Deaf culture takes the main place. Auslan is teached by the school teachers, and Deaf culture by deaf persons invited by the school to come and to speak to children.
Many teachers and educational staff members are bilingual English/Auslan and those who are not are working towards that goal.
Deaf students are always integrated in the hearing classes in small groups, not on their own It may happen that one deaf student with a very good level follows the morning classes with hearing students but it is quite rare, and submitted to the teacher’s consentment.
The level of deaf students in English and Mathematics is slightly lower than the hearing students’ one, but that gap doesn’t increase with time and the basic knowledges are securely gained.
Deaf and hearing students get along very well, and transverse friendships are as numerous as the ones between hearing students or deaf ones. During classes, teachers practice the two languages as said before, and the students can answer in either.
Communication go quite well too between hearing and deaf parents, the firsts being aware of the specific language spoken by the seconds, and also between the educational staff and all parents because the staff practices both Auslan and English. Some parents of hearing students even come at school to follow Auslan classes, for having a better communication with the deaf people they meet.
Here, the deaf and the hearing come together in an harmonious partnership where all children benefit from the best of both worlds in tolerant and supportive surroundings. Mosman Park School's innovative teaching methods, bilingual staff and interactive environment – all classrooms have interactive boards and there's a dedicated computer room – allow it to promote both inclusion and diversity. The best proof of their success lies in the happy faces of their pupils and parents, whether deaf or hearing.

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