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Secondary School

The Secondary program caters for young people aged 12-18 years with a primary diagnosis of autism. The program structure is based on a mainstream high school model. Activities and the style in which they are delivered focus on preparing students for a high level of participation in adult life beyond the school years. For this reason, emphasis is on learning about and engaging with the community. Students in Years 11-12 are also offered the opportunities to participate in vocational education programs either on-site or through one of the several work experience partners of Giant Steps.

Students work from Home Rooms from which they begin and end the day and return to at transition points. The school day consists of a number of periods/lessons where students are grouped in various combinations depending on skill level, interest and student friendships. Lessons are based on units of work according to the Board of Studies Life Skills Syllabus outcomes and cover all the key learning areas in the curriculum including functional literacy and numeracy. Content is prepared and shared in a hands-on manner, enabling students to experience meaning through learning first-hand about their world.

Teachers, Speech Therapists, Music Therapists, Occupational Therapists and Educators work together collaboratively to design, implement and assess programs within a transdisciplinary model, so that the knowledge of all professionals is shared and implemented across the day with consistency. Staff meet with parents twice yearly to establish 3 additional individual goals for each young person, and these 3 goals are built into programs and actively addressed in natural ways across the day. Staff maintain regular communication with parents around implementing any strategies across the school and home environments and problem solve around any issues arising.

The Secondary program gives great emphasis to helping our young people develop age-appropriate interests that will enable them to participate in a wide range of activities with their peers both at school and beyond. Focus is on developing relationships with a range of people involved in their lives, and enjoying the social connection that comes with a strong friendship network. Consideration is given to developing in young people the tools to help them attain and maintain emotional regulation throughout the day, cope with change and find their role within their own social circle. Gender-specific programs teach the essentials of maintaining good personal hygiene and looking one's best. In addition, a wide range of sports, music and dance programs offer the chance to develop the skills needed to join in with larger group activities and to share their enjoyment with others. Importantly, Giant Steps takes an expansive view and is keen for students to engage in a range of teaching and learning experiences that motivate the students to engage in the social world.

Examples of programs from 2012 include:

  • Looking Good  - gender-specific programs looking at personal hygiene, grooming and always looking your best
  • French Language and Culture  - an exploration of conversational French language, landmarks, food and the culture of France
  • Muscles and Machines  - studying the body and how it moves, learning about muscles and engaging in a gym program with equipment
  • Ice Skating - students familiarise themselves with the safety equipment, get out onto the ice and engage in activities that physically challenge the students and help develop coordination and balance
  • Landmarks of Sydney  - travelling to key locations in Sydney, exploring the areas through long walks, mapping the location and engaging with the community
  • Indigenous Arts and Culture - learning about the history and culture of indigenous Australia including food, music, making didgeridoos and visiting the Australian Museum
  • Music and Dance of the Pacific Islands  - engaging in songs and dances of the Pacific Islands, playing instruments of the various cultures culminating in a whole-school Luau celebration event