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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. [email protected] 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.

[email protected]

Lecture structure
Lecture structure Transition in Australia

  • 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 Transition in Australia

  • 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) Transition in Australia

  • 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) Transition in Australia

  • 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 Transition in Australia

  • 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 Transition in Australia

  • 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 Transition in Australia

  • 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) Transition in Australia

  • 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) Transition in Australia

  • 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 Transition in Australia

  • 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 Transition in Australia

  • Severe II

    • 18% award wage

    • 69% unemployed

    • 13% sheltered employment

Other outcomes
Other outcomes Transition in Australia

  • 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) Transition in Australia

  • 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 Transition in Australia

  • 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) Transition in Australia

  • 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 Transition in Australia

  • 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 Transition in Australia

  • 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 Updates, 2007)

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

Executive Summary available at:


Motivation for the study
Motivation for the study Updates, 2007)

  • 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

Aims: Updates, 2007)

  • 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 Updates, 2007)

  • 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 Updates, 2007)

  • 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) Updates, 2007)

  • 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 Updates, 2007)

School type
School type Updates, 2007)

Background information1
Background information Updates, 2007)

Daytime activity
Daytime activity Updates, 2007)

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 Updates, 2007)

  • 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 Updates, 2007)

  • 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) Updates, 2007)

  • 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 Updates, 2007)

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

  • TAFE (69%)

  • Universities (7%)

  • other courses (24%)

Community activities
Community activities Updates, 2007)

Activity summary
Activity summary Updates, 2007)

  • 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 Updates, 2007)

Work experience
Work experience Updates, 2007)

  • 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

Comments on adjustments
Comments on adjustments Updates, 2007)

  • 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 Updates, 2007)

  • 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 Updates, 2007)

  • 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 Updates, 2007)

  • 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

References Updates, 2007)

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,


Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission. (2005). Updates, 2007)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


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