School transparency stops discrimination against the rights of our special needs children.

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My name is Pauline Aquilina and I am an Advocate from School Advocate for Kids with ASD.  I worked in the education field for over 2 decades, primarily as, an Assistant Principal and a Student Wellbeing Leader.  I am now working as an Advocate because I am passionate about trying to redress some of the discrimination I see against children with special needs in our Victorian Schools.  It truly is horror story after horror story!

I assist parents to recognise their child's legal rights at a State, Federal and International level.  I assist families to negotiate the school system, to eradicate the discrimination that their child experiences in the school setting and so parents can advocate effectively for their child. 

Without parents having the knowledge and the skills, their child most generally will not have access to a quality education that is adapted to meet their needs and to help them fulfil their potential. 

How can this happen when there are laws and guidelines that aims to ensure that these sort of actions do not happen.  It is through the Hidden Curriculum. 

There is always a hidden curriculum in the school setting. It is the undocumented; not spoken about; set of practices and procedures that are understood and applied as the normative practice. The hidden curriculum is described as “hidden” because it is usually unacknowledged or unexamined by students, educators, and the wider community. It occurs in the classroom and the playground. A significant area where it also occurs is within the management area of the school.

The hidden curriculum in Management can lead and influence decisions and actions during  meetings, through enrolment decisions, through teachers' lack of knowledge about special needs of students, through allowing segregation of special needs students, by applying discipline action that  'demonises' the child.  The message of the hidden curriculum is that the special needs child has no value, that parents have nothing to offer to the formal education of their child, and that a home/school partnership is not valued.
This again is in direct contradiction to State, Federal and International laws that governs the education of students with special needs. It contravenes the guidelines and policies that all Education Systems document in relation to the conduct of schools practices and policies. Schools should not be allowed to assess themselves in relation to how well they are performing in regards to the inclusion and access they have to a quality education.   



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