Collaboration is at the heart of Alawa Primary School’s wrap around response to intervention

Alawa Primary School, in the Northern Territory, showcases how a school-wide collaborative response to intervention (RTI) enables all students to become successful learners. 

Late last year, ATA met with Principal Sandy Cartwright, Special Education Teacher, Nikki Bates, and Special Education Support Officer, Saleena Allgood, the current Northern Territory Finalist in the Australian Teacher Aide of the Year Awards, to learn more about Saleena’s role at the school.  

A wrap around response to intervention 

At Alawa Primary School, teachers and Special Education Support Officers (SESAs) work together with external service providers, such as occupational therapists, pediatricians, and speech therapists, to respond to intervention. 

Saleena Allgood explained that in her role, a wraparound service meant spending one on one time with students to find out what they know and skills they need to learn, working with external service providers to identify the best strategies to use, meeting and reflecting with classroom teachers, and checking in with the SESA team to make sure they’re comfortable delivering the school’s intervention programs. 

“I will source the pieces of equipment (recommended by the OT) make sure the child is happy using them, and go back over a period of time to check on them.” - Special Education Support Officer, Saleena Allgood

Successful collaboration in practice 

As a result of the school’s planned collaborative approach to intervention, staff are enabled to support the wellbeing and self-regulation of students.

Principal Sandy Cartwright highlighted how successful collaboration includes time for teachers and SESAs to meet both formally and informally, to implement evidence-based interventions that best support students’ needs, communicate about the effectiveness of strategies and build the team’s capacity.  

“I make sure I go and see my teachers in the morning and afternoon, to make sure students are ready for the day and to check out with them.” - Special Education Support Officer, Saleena Allgood

Helping students self-regulate  

Self-regulation is essential for students to be able to function in the classroom, and at Alawa Primary School they have the Engine Room, a program that teaches self-regulation. 

Special Education Teacher, Nikki Bates, who nominated Saleena for the Australian Teacher Aide of the Year Award, told ATA that Saleena oversees the Engine Room, which plays a critical role in supporting the wellbeing and self-regulation of students, and trains staff in optimising facilities to support students' sensory needs, as well as delivering literacy and numeracy intervention. 

“Saleena helps about 30 students with skills and strategies best suited for them to regulate, so that they can function back in the classroom.” - Principal Sandy Cartwright

Building capacity 

There is a strong focus on building staff capacity, and as the lead SESA, Saleena takes the opportunity to upskill herself, and supports the SESA team to maximize the benefits for students.

“First I'll do a one-on-one training session, then I’ll bring a group of students in, and they can observe how I interact with the kids and the equipment. Then I’ll do another session with them and their students to make sure that they're delivering it to the best of their ability and to the skills and the equipment that's in there.” - Special Education Support Officer, Saleena Allgood. 

During our virtual meeting with Saleena, Nikki, and Sandy we learned how Saleena’s outstanding ability to support children with additional needs, earned her the much deserved title of Northern Territory Finalist in the Australian Teacher Aide of the Year Awards

We also came away with an insight into the way school leaders, teachers and SESAs work collaboratively to help all students achieve their potential. 

If you, too, see the value in using an evidence-based response to intervention, use our Professional Development Planner to identify the range of web events and resources that your school can use to build capacity to support all students to become successful learners and achieve their potential.