Queenscliff school signs up to teach new language

November 28, 2023 BY

(L-R) St Aloysius principal Miriam Leahy, interpreter Wendy Bailey, MACS Auslan consultant Janelle Giffin, St Aloysius head of language Angela Ritchie, MACS language lead Chloe Briand, and Auslan in the West teacher Briana Beath joined by students Clem and Avery signing "welcome". Photo: VINNIE VAN OORSCHOT

QUEENSCLIFF’S St Aloysius Catholic Primary School is altering its curriculum next year by choosing new secondary language for its pupils.

The P-6 school in Stevens Street will change its Language Other Than English from Italian to Auslan.

School principal Miriam Leahy said the school was excited to undertake the next step in its language area.

“When we first went to the staff with the idea that we might switch next year to Auslan, we weren’t sure what peoples’ responses would be, but it was an overwhelming, excited response.

“We strive to be the most inclusive school we can be, and I feel like this is not just talking the talk, we are walking the walk by giving this opportunity to our staff and kids.”

As part of the new curriculum delivered by Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools (MACS), Auslan will be taught to students by their regular teachers on a daily basis through sessions lasting about 15 minutes.

The new, innovative approach to teaching falls in line with MACS’ Flourishing Learners 2030 vision, providing an evidence-based, sequenced, and comprehensive curriculum to students.

Auslan in the West teacher and member of the deaf community Briana Beath attended St Aloysius earlier this month to provide St Aloysius’ students, teachers, and parents with Deafness Awareness Training before the new curriculum is implemented.

Ms Beath said, via an interpreter, Auslan provides several benefits to students not only in the region, but also the country.

“Students can communicate with one another in several way, for example if they’re far away from one another or through a window, and it helps with things like spelling as well.

“It also provides a deeper and more visual understanding of the language they’re learning.

“There is also plenty of career opportunities, the possibilities are endless. Jobs such as interpreters, working in different schools that offer Auslan, and working directly with the deaf community.”

St Aloysius’ head of language Angela Ritchie’s mother is deaf, which led to her being an Auslan teacher at various schools around the world in the 1990s.

“We’re incredibly proud that we’re going to get a really important, valuable, visual, and kinaesthetic language out there through our students,” Ms Ritchie said.

“It’s also important that the deaf community sees their language is being valued.”

According to Deaf Schools Australia, the only schools in the Greater Geelong region to teach Auslan to its students are Grovedale West Primary School and Grovedale College.

The Victorian Deaf Education Institute also lists Auslan as a VCE subject at Herne Hill’s Clonard College.