Ours is no special school

Jake Dickinson is full of pride for his school.
Jake Dickinson is full of pride for his school. Christopher Chan GLA211112VOXP

JAKE Dickinson's smile is full of pride, because this young boy - who has autism - gets to wear the uniform of Gladstone's Rosella Park School.

Now Gladstone MP Liz Cunningham wants all 'special schools' around the state to follow our lead.

She is calling for the 39 schools labelled as 'special' to drop the title, and give kids like Jake a reason to be proud of their school.

It is time to embrace the differences and diversity in our education system and declare them as one, she said.

"I have seen the pride on the faces of those (Rosella Park School) students when asked, 'What school do you go to?'."


WHEN Jake Dickinson enrolled at Rosella Park School, his personality changed and the family dynamic  dynamics did too.

For the better.

Mother Jake's mother, Raelene, said her son felt as if an enormous pressure weight had been lifted from off his shoulders, and in turn, so did feel the remaining other four members of the Dickinson family.

"It was an amazing transition," she said.

"Both at home and at school, the pressure lifted incredibly... There was no more stress, less anxiety and he finally became grounded."

Her autistic son is able to access one-on-one teaching resources, but, Mrs Dickinson says, he shouldn't have to identify as anything other than normal.

"I fully support Liz. Rosella is just another school and it should be treated that way," she said.

"Jake loves it here. It's been a wonderful change for our family and I can't recommend it highly enough."
She said she supported the idea of renaming all special schools.


GLADSTONE's Rosella Park School is leading the way in recognising diversity and the rest of the state and local MP Liz Cunningham wants Queensland needs to catch up.

Speaking in parliament on October 30, Gladstone MP Liz Cunningham has called for the renaming of 39 schools in Queensland still listed as "special schools".

She said Rosella Park School was a leader for education facilities for students with specific educational needs.

"The special school in my electorate, since about 1996-1997 is called Rosella Park School," she told the floor.

"I have seen the pride on the faces of those students when asked 'What school do you go to?'

"They do not have to say 'Gladstone Special School'. They say 'I go to Rosella Park School'."

She said renaming Gladstone Special School several years ago granted students the opportunity to take pride in their school.

"It's been an evolution over time and I believe we need to keep moving forward," she said.

"I saw a marked change in the attitude of students when the name was changed. It's about giving students a sense of dignity."

It is a statewide change Mrs Cunningham has been fighting to change for almost a decade.

It is time to embrace differences, not highlight them, she said.

"We need to take a step forward to recognise and encourage diversity in our schools," she said.  

Topics:  disability school special

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