Where have all our students gone school to post school transition in australia
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Where have all our students gone? School to Post-School Transition in Australia. Des English Memorial Lecture. Australian Association of Special Education, Melbourne, April 16-17, 2009. Denis Meadows, Educational Consultant, Brisbane. Denis.Meadows@optusnet.com.au. Lecture structure.

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Where have all our students gone school to post school transition in australia

Where have all our students gone? School to Post-School Transition in Australia

Des English Memorial Lecture. Australian Association of Special Education, Melbourne, April 16-17, 2009.

Denis Meadows, Educational Consultant, Brisbane.


Lecture structure

Lecture structure

  • Australian literature into post-school outcomes for persons with a disability

  • Post-school outcome data from a recent Queensland study

  • Some thoughts on future actions

Australian outcomes literature

Australian outcomes literature

  • Very little in refereed journals

  • Some project reports but mostly descriptive with little outcome data

  • No comprehensive literature review of Australian studies

  • Queensland literature review included Australian outcomes studies from 1990-2005 (Meadows et al, 2005)

Human rights and equal opportunity commission 2005

Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (2005)

  • In 2003, 53% of persons with disability participated in the workforce

  • This number has decreased since 2003

  • Underrepresented in vocational training and training systems

  • Noted poor links between state school and post-school programs

  • People are trapped in Business Services

Organization for economic cooperation and development 2007

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (2007)

  • Australian employment rates for persons with a disability ranked 13 out of 19 countries

  • Lowest of 16 countries for employment of persons on a disability related benefit

  • Highest of 16 countries for persons on a disability related benefit who engaged in no paid work

The n s w transition initiative

The N.S.W Transition initiative

  • One of the most significant and influential Australian initiatives

  • Began in 1989 in NSW by the Department of School Education

  • See Riches (1996) for a comprehensive review

Key features of the initiative

Key features of the initiative

  • Systemic support and funding

  • Individual transition planning (students, parents, teachers, post-school agencies)

  • Provision of appropriate school curricula

  • Links to post-school agencies prior to leaving school

  • Ongoing professional development (workshops, conferences, university)

  • Community involvement and local planning

  • Interagency collaboration

N s w initiative

N.S.W initiative

  • Emphasis on teaching students to be involved in their own goal setting

  • Dedicated transition coordinators to assist schools with interagency collaboration

  • Large work experience component in the final year (up to 60%)

N s w outcomes study 1 n 57

N.S.W. outcomes Study 1(N=57)

  • Mostly students with intellectual impairment

    • Employment at award wages 32%

    • Sheltered employment 19%

    • Unemployed and stayed home 26%

    • Post secondary training 18%

    • Work experience linked to employment

    • TAFE while at school linked to post-school enrollment in training

N s w outcomes study 2 n 544

N.S.W. outcomes. Study 2 (N= 544)

  • Riches, Parmenter and Robertson, 1996.

  • Interviews with school leavers 1989-93

  • All categories of disability

  • Most with mild, moderate or severe II

  • Data on:

    • Living arrangements

    • Income support

    • Recreation and leisure

    • Transport

    • Employment

Employment outcomes

Employment outcomes

  • Mild II

    • 50% on award wage

    • 42% unemployed

    • 5% sheltered employment

  • Moderate II

    • 28% award wage

    • 28% unemployed

    • 40% sheltered employment

Employment outcomes1

Employment outcomes

  • Severe II

    • 18% award wage

    • 69% unemployed

    • 13% sheltered employment

Other outcomes

Other outcomes

  • Most used public transport (36%), taxi (5%), or traveled with family and friends (35%)

  • Disability support pension received by 86%

  • 88% lived at home with parents

  • Variable data over most areas

Self determination laragy 2004

Self determination (Laragy, 2004)

  • The South Coast Transition Model (Clarke, 1994)

    • School leavers, 1992-1994

    • 66% full time employment

    • Stressed student and family involvement

    • 70% of transition plan goals achieved 3 years after leaving school

    • Importance of post-school follow up

  • Startright South Australia: No outcome data

Dedicated transition support officers

Dedicated transition support officers

  • Centre for Disability Research & Development, WA. (1995):

    • Improvement in independence through work experience, self esteem, independent living skills

    • Stressed importance of dedicated transition support personnel

    • No clear outcome data

Transition to supported employment wade 2003

Transition to supported employment (Wade, 2003)

  • Reviewed five Australian school transition programs linking students to Business Services

  • Provides useful recommendations and a transition model

  • No outcome data

Persons with autism

Persons with Autism

  • Outcomes for 28 persons with ASD (Burrows, Ford & Botroff, 2001)

    • Half had moderate to severe II

    • 1 in open employment

    • 12 employed in sheltered or supported employment

    • 6 in day activity programs

    • 9 attending further education

    • Most lived at home and caregivers supported access to post-school activity

    • No data on wages, hours of work, pension support

Persons with autism1

Persons with Autism

  • School to post-school training for one day per week (Lynch, 2005)

    • TAFE accredited program

    • Work experience

    • Good program rationale and description

    • Stressed importance of interagency collaboration

    • Anecdotal and qualitative data

    • No quantitative outcomes data

Positive australian employment outcomes jobsupport cwo updates 2007

Positive Australian employment outcomes (Jobsupport, CWO Updates, 2007)

  • Jobsupport and the N.S.W. Department of Ageing, Disability and Home care:

    • 130 completed Community Work Options

    • 72% moved to open employment

    • 48% of these earn award wages

  • Use of real work settings for training

  • Training targeted towards individually set goals

  • Use of skilled experienced staff

  • Link to open employment placement service

The queensland quality outcomes study

The Queensland Quality Outcomes Study

Sponsored by the Queensland Department of Education, Training and the Arts.

Executive Summary available at:


Motivation for the study

Motivation for the study

  • Recommendation from the Ministerial Task Force on Inclusive Education

That the Minister establish a rigorous research program in all

schooling sectors in Queensland along the lines of the Queensland

School Reform Longitudinal Study, which examines the link between

pedagogic practices in classrooms for students with disabilities and

the outcomes achieved by these students

Where have all our students gone school to post school transition in australia


  • To conduct a literature review identifying practices indicative of successful transition outcomes for students with II, ASD, II/ASD

  • To construct, based on the literature review, a benchmarking instrument designed to assess levels of agreement, and implementation of, recommended transition practices (Teacher Survey).

  • To investigate outcomes for students who had left school from 2000-2005 (Parent Survey).

  • To make recommendations regarding school to post-school transition for Queensland schools

Components of the study

Components of the study

  • A literature review

  • Teacher benchmarking instrument

  • A parent/past student questionnaire

  • Parent/past student focus groups

  • Teacher/post-school service provider focus groups

  • Report & recommendations

Study structure

Study Structure

  • All sections of the study were structured around Kohler’s Taxonomy (Kohler & Field, 2003).

    • Student development

    • Student focused planning

    • Family involvement

    • Interagency collaboration

    • Program structure

  • Taxonomy available at:

http://homepages.wmich.edu/~kohlerp/research7.html - Taxonomy

Parent questionnaire davies beamish in press

Parent questionnaire (Davies & Beamish, In Press)

  • School leavers 2000-2005

  • The questions addressed:

    • Background information

    • Data on paid work

    • Activities other than paid work

    • Data on school experiences

    • Quantitative data and parent perspectives

  • 800 distributed-218 returned

Background information

Background information

School type

School type

Background information1

Background information

Daytime activity

Daytime activity

30% of SHS leavers

16% of SEU leavers

65% of Spec School leavers

70% of SHS leavers

43% of SEU leavers

15% of Spec School leavers

0% of SHS leavers

41% of SEU leavers

20% of Spec School leavers

Paid work open employment

Paid work-open employment

  • 53 (25% of sample)

  • 31 (47% of SEU & state high school); 22 (15% of state special school)

  • 32 employed for 2 years or less

  • Earnings per week:

    • < $50 (25 %)

    • $50-$100 (21%)

    • $100-$200 (30%)

    • over $200 (23%)

  • Hours of work

    • <10 hours 25%

    • 10-20 hours 37%

    • 20-30 hours 17%

    • > 30 hours 21%

Business services

Business services

  • 28 (13% of sample)

  • Earnings per week:

    • < $50 (63%)

    • $50-$100 (30%)

    • $100-$150 (3.5%)

    • $150-200 (3.5%)

  • Hours per week:

    • < 10 hours (11%)

    • 10-20 hours (33%)

    • 20-30 hours (33%)

    • over 30 hours (23%)

Day activity centre not paid

Day activity centre (not paid)

  • 110 (50% of the sample)

  • 12 (18% state high school leavers); 98; (68% state special school leavers)

  • Hours of attendance:

    • <10 hrs pw (20%)

    • 10-20 hours (48%)

    • 20-30 hours (30%)

    • >30 hrs pw (2%)

  • One third participated in volunteer activities

Tertiary education

Tertiary education

  • 47 (22% of the sample) attended a tertiary institution

  • TAFE (69%)

  • Universities (7%)

  • other courses (24%)

Community activities

Community activities

Community supervision and contact with others

Community supervision and contact with others

Activity summary

Activity summary

  • 87% participated in work (open or supported employment) or a day centre program

  • Involved < 20 hours per week (62%, 44%, 68%)

  • 82% are looked after by parents at home when not participating

“The family became emotionally dysfunctional and were unable to cope.

Mother resigned from a $60,000 a year job (and RESENTS it) to assist”.

School experiences

School experiences

Work experience

Work experience

  • 147 (67% of the sample) participated in work experience

  • 24% - 1 work experience

  • 31% - 2 work experiences

  • 10% - 3 work experiences

  • 24% - 4 work experiences

Duration of work experience

Duration of work experience

Satisfaction with the school program

Satisfaction with the school program

Involvement with transition goal setting

Involvement with transition goal setting

Adjustment to family life

Adjustment to family life

Comments on adjustments

Comments on adjustments

  • Parental reduction or cessation of work

  • Transport difficulties

  • Disruption from an increased caring role

The family became emotionally dysfunctional and were unable to cope. Mother

resigned from a $60,000 per year job (and RESENTS it) to assist.

Because we resided 54 klms west of (regional city) there was no transport to bring

her in to the day program. We tried bringing her in each day 1,000 klms a week

but we found this was too expensive and wearing so we moved into (regional city).

Organizations dictate the hours of care,10-2pm.Anything I need to do must

be accomplished in 4 hours.

My whole life is an adjustment

Overall recommendations

Overall recommendations

  • Improved interagency collaboration

    • Interdepartmental liaison

    • Role of school transition officers

  • Program structure

    • Clearly articulated philosophy, policies & procedures at the systemic and local levels

    • Professional development modules http://www.learningplace.com.au/deliver/content.asp?pid=35370

    • Program evaluation (student follow-up)

Overall recommendations1

Overall recommendations

  • Student focused planning

    • Few parents felt their child was involved in goal setting

    • Early development of these skills

  • Student development

    • Ecologically valid instruction earlier in the students secondary education

  • Family involvement

    • Begin earlier in the transition process

Concluding comments

Concluding comments

  • Our conclusions similar to past Australian and overseas studies

  • Made over a period of time (NSW initiative late 1980s)

  • Front line transition teachers find systemic change difficult

  • Knowledge of evidence based practices can influence systemic decision making



Burrows, M., Ford, J., & Botroff, V. (2001). The post-school outcomes of young

adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The Australasian Journal of Special

Education, 25(1&2), 34-48.

Centre for Disability Research and Development. (1995). Report on the

evaluation of the 1994 Western Australian Transition Support Program for

students with disabilities. Perth: Edith Cowan University.

Davies, M., & Beamish, W. (In Press). Transitions from school for young

adults with disability: Parental perspectives on “life as an adjustment”.

Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability.

C.W.O. Updates, (2007). Retrieved on March 23, 2009 from


Carke, G. (1994). Vision driven. The South Coast Transition Model as facilitated

by the Post Schol Options Advisory Service. Paper presented at the Triple-O-

Forum. Making the links for people with disabilities who have hogh support

needs. Education, training and work through the 90s. Griffith University,


Where have all our students gone school to post school transition in australia

Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission. (2005). People with a

disability in the open workforce: Final report of the national enquiry into

employment and disability. Retrieved April 10, 2009 from


Laragy, C. (2004). Self-determination within school transition programs for students with

a disability. Disability and Society, 19(5), 519-530.

Lynch, M. (2005). Preparing children with Autism Spectrum Disorder for work:

A school to work training program and the importance of relationships. Paper

Presented at the Australian Association for Special Education, Melbourne.

Organization for the Economic Cooperation and Development. (2007). Sikness

disability and work. Volume 2: Australia, Luxembourg, Spain and the United

Kingdom. Available from OECD from


Where have all our students gone school to post school transition in australia

Riches, V. (1996). A review of transition from school to community for

students with disabilities in NSW, Australia. Journal of Intellectual

and Developmental Disabilitiy, 21(1), 71-88.

Riches, V., Parmenter, T., & Robertson, G. (1996). Youth with disabilities in transition

from school to community. Sydney NSW, Australia: Unit for Community Integration

Studies, Macquarie University.

Wade, J. (203). Transition to supported emploment for students with a disability.

Australian Council for Rehabilitation of the Disabled (ACROD), Sth Australian Division.

Retrieved 7th September, 2005 from http://www.nds.org.au/SA/default.htm

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