Born from the drive of a passionate group of parents with special needs children, the Talbot Room opened at Healesville High School in 2018 after two years of collaboration between Yarra Ranges Special Developmental School (YRSDS) in Mt Evelyn, Healesville High School and the Victorian Department of Education in a bid to set up a satellite classroom within the high school campus. A similar classroom at Healesville Primary School opened in 2010 to accommodate the educational needs of children with intellectual and physical disabilities or with significant learning difficulties. But, there was nowhere for the graduating Year 6 students to go locally.
Its success paved the way for parents, spearheaded by Louise Cuthbertson (nee Talbot, mother of Daniel), to work with principals and government to set up a similar classroom in a high school setting.
When they started the process in 2016 there was no clear plan or design. With limited resources the parents and teachers worked tirelessly to create an appropriate model. By December 2017, the classroom was given the green light within the Year 7/8 campus building and was initially named DO9. It was agreed that YRSDS would manage the unit with appropriate staff levels. Initial enrolment was five students, and it was opened with the blessing of the Department of Education.
In 2020, after two years of solid evolution, the classroom is now fully operational as part of Healesville High School. The dedication and support of Healesville High School leadership and teachers means the unit is now part of the fabric and ethos of the school where inclusivity is encouraged every day.
The philosophy of the Talbot Room (re-named to reflect the commitment of one of the founding parents) is to support secondary students full-time in a classroom where each student has an individual education plan designed and implemented by head specialist teacher Jo Yates. This gives students the opportunity to maximise their learning and to access all mainstream classes, programs, camps and extra-curricular activities.
The Talbot Room provides:
Small working desk configurations for individual learning
Multiple computer work stations
Interactive IT teaching methods
Communal space for group chats or quiet time
Kitchenette, refrigerator, lockers
Full-time specialist teachers and integration aides