2018 Annual Report

I would like to start by giving my thanks to the board members of Giant Steps Tasmania for all the time and effort they selflessly give to out wonderful school. I would also like to thank them for their support and guidance through the sometimes challenging and important decisions that come with running a school. Your support is much appreciated.  In 2018 we were grateful to welcome two new members to the board, Margret Tulich and Michael Lowe. We also welcomed back Rod Lester after some time away from the board.

2018 was the first year in a long time that Giant Steps Tasmania did not have an adult group. This took some time to get used to and of course we missed our clients, many of whom had been with us for quite some time. However, with the change came the opportunity to re-imagine the spaces available to us as a school and we were able to spread out a bit. Blue Room took over the Cottage and Orange Room set up in the Savage River building. This gave each classroom a defined space and allowed for some shared areas to be used for different activities.

The buildings of Giant Steps Tasmania went through some significant changes in 2018 with the installation of a quite significant Solar Power system. This will make significant savings to our power usage costs and are of course good for our environment. At the same time the school also made a commitment to move to LED globes throughout the school which are more efficient and better for our young people on the spectrum as they do not flicker. At the same time, we made a commitment to switch to more efficient heating systems throughout the school. We now have heat pumps installed in most areas and they have made a big difference in terms of comfort and control year-round. Perhaps one of the most visually pleasing building updates for the year was a new coat of paint on the Drill Hall. It looks quite splendid in its new Grey colour scheme.

Another big change in the usage of our space came thanks to a generous donation form Brian and Wendy Faulkner. With their support we were able to convert part of the brick building that once was a classroom into a new office with a new and improved main entrance off Tower Hill Street.  This has helped to ease congestion in the former office area and has given us a more appropriate place for students to enter and exit the school.  The Brick Building is now almost exclusively used for admin and staff services. The admin staff have a much greater space to use and staff have a nice big space for making resources and copies. We also now have the luxury of a dedicated meeting room. This is great and gives us space to meet with families and staff. It is nicely out of the way so offers some privacy as well. Once again, we thank the Faulkner’s for their generous donation and commitment to our school.

Enrolments remain strong and the school retained enrolments of around 30.00 full time equivalent students for the year. Enrolments at Giant Steps Tasmania ebb and flow a bit during the year as some of our students change their dual enrolments and we often gain some students throughout the year. The school could currently maintain 40 full time equivalent enrolments, so we have some ability to grow.

Funding arrangements for our students changed significantly in 2018 with our students now being funded based on the level of need they are deemed to require according to the Nationally Consistent Collection of Data. Students are placed at a level based on the amount of adjustments that are required for them to access and participate in education on the same basis as their peers. The required adjustments to access are based on the professional judgement of teachers, in consultation with the student and/or their parents, guardians or carers. Students that require supplementary, substantial and extensive adjustments attract additional funding through the student with disability loading. The three different loading amounts reflect the level of adjustment required.


Base per student amount in 2019

Supplementary

Substantial

Extensive

Primary student

$11,343

42%

($4,764)

146%

($16,561)

312%

($35,390)

Secondary student

$14,254

33%

($4,704)

116%

($16,535)

248%

($35,350)

Note: The table shows the 2019 amounts under the full SRS and does not take into account a school's transition arrangements to consistent Commonwealth shares of the SRS.

There is quite a significant monetary difference between the three levels of additional funding. In a school such as ours with very high student to staff member ratios and a team of professionals on staff these differences can have a significant impact.  At Giant Steps Tasmania most of our students are at a substantial or extensive level and we will now need to carefully monitor the progress of our students and make sure that we are in consultation with families when we feel a student may be moving towards a supplementary level of need. Students moving towards that level should be looking towards a mainstream enrolment supported by a considered transition plan from Giant Steps Tasmania. 

In 2018 Giant Steps Tasmania went through the Non-Government School Registration Process. This was a slightly different system to previous application where officers from the Registrars Office visit the school and form a report with the Registrar who then reports to the Non-Government School Registration Board who decide on the Registration of the school. It is quite a complicated process with much paperwork and thought required to make sure all standards are not just met but are easily evidenced to the visiting Officers. I am extremely happy to report that our school received an additional five years registration and we had very little to follow up on from the process. This is fantastic news as we can see that Giant Steps Tasmania is offering a high-quality education to our students that not only looks to their therapeutic needs but offers them a robust and differentiated academic program. There is no reason for a child at Giant Steps to be held back academically and we are now held to the same standards as any other school. A huge thank you must go to Chris Jacobsen, our 2018 Education Administrator for the quite mammoth amounts of work she contributed to the Schools Registration process.

As is thankfully quite often the case, 2018 saw Giant Steps receive much support from the local community. All our generous supporters help to support our programs and give our children the best opportunities to learn and flourish. The donations we receive help to get those special things we may not ordinarily be able to afford and to keep important resources in the school. Notable donations for 2018 were:

  • Brian and Wendy Faulkner - A significant Contribution to Building Works.
  • Whites Rural Supplies –$4000.00 for a new heavy-duty swing.
  • Aurora Energy - $5000.00 for new iPads and Applications.
  • Brian Kirman - $1000.00 for Christmas Cheer.
  • The Deloraine Golden Opportunity Shop – Continued support for 2.5 students.

Of course, there are many others and they are all very important! It is quite humbling to be considered so important by the community and I feel we are valued. I really enjoy going around talking with service clubs and organisations spreading the positive word of what we achieve for our students and how they surprise us with their talents and skills.

I would like to thank all the staff at Giant Steps Tasmania for the wonderful work they do each and every day. Our students are extremely privileged to have a dedicated and passionate group of people who give so much of themselves for the good of our students. It is not always an easy job, but it is a rewarding job and our students are very much worth our efforts. It is not just the staff who work with the children that keep things going either, Katy and Leanne in the office provide us with valuable back up and assistance and Shelly and Vicki make sure we are always squeaky clean, well at least at the start of the day! Most importantly, I would like to thank Karina, our Business Administrator, Karina works extremely hard to keep our financial matters ticking along and under control. It is a complex and exhausting job that is extremely important for our existence. So thank you, your work is much appreciated. 

2019 is already an exciting year with some great improvements and we continue to offer a quality individualised program to a great group of very interesting, intelligent and inspiring students. Once again thank you for coming.