Ebony Hogan loves art – the textures, the colours, the lines – and by all accounts is quite good at it as a member of Wollongong High School of the Performing Arts’ group for gifted artists.
The 14-year-old is also deaf and wears a cochlear implant. She has been attending mainstream schools since she was a preschooler.
She attends all her classes with other students in her year, except for English, which she works on in the Wollongong High School Deaf Unit with teacher Fiona Sampson.
A teaching assistant helps Ebony in class, writing notes on a laptop for anything that is unclear, and telling her what is being said around the classroom if she can’t quite hear to allow her to take part in group discussions.
Ebony said she liked being able to attend school with everyone else, but enjoyed having the opportunity to work one-on-one for English because it helped her understand the subject.
Her mother Rennay said Ebony had benefited hugely from being able to attend school with her peers.
‘‘She still needs that support, but to be integrated into mainstream schooling, especially the social part of it, I think that is so important.’’
Ms Sampson said inclusive education for students with or without a disability benefited everyone involved, with the opportunity to perceive each other as just fellow students.
But she said working with the needs of each student was also crucial, which could mean working with some students outside of a regular classroom.
School principal Diane Trist agreed, saying there was a place for both kinds of classes.