Local schools benefit from innovative behaviour intervention program

Awarded: Dr Georgie Fleming speaks to deputy principal Rebecca Dao via an earpiece as she sits with a student in the PCIT room. Picture: Chris Lane
Awarded: Dr Georgie Fleming speaks to deputy principal Rebecca Dao via an earpiece as she sits with a student in the PCIT room. Picture: Chris Lane

Warwick Farm Public School is one of six south-west primary and early learning schools taking part in Ingleburn Public School's Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) program .

The program was recently awarded a Secretary's Award for School Achievement in the 2020 NSW Minister's and Secretary's Awards for Excellence.

Ingleburn principal Graeme Green said the award was great recognition for the program, which sees parents and teachers collaborate with trained clinical psychologists to work with children so behavourial concerns don't grow into something more serious down the track.

"We have six local schools that have joined with us to support the project, and they each have students who are undertaking the program," Mr Green said.

"We're looking at scaling it up and opening PCIT up to more of the local schools as we are able to provide more clinicians.

"We now have two clinicians and are training up another one."

Mr Green described the program's success in the year since it launched as "absolutely amazing".

"There's been a huge reduction in student behaviours from a clinical point of view, both in our students and other schools'," he said.

"All the schools have committed to supporting the program next year. We screen all new kindergarten children in those schools, a screening program done by the parents and clinicians, to work out whether there are students in the clinical range to go into the program. We also have parental referrals."

Mr Green said he hoped the work the school and clinicians from UNSW had done could become the basis of a new education model.

He said the school was working with other partners to ensure the long-term sustainability of PCIT.

"Winning this award gives us that credibility and recognition that we hopefully use to get some more support from the Department of Education and other businesses," Mr Green said.

"We're very encouraged that other schools want to be a part of it."

Mr Green said the program had even grown beyond the purpose-built PCIT room and moved into the classroom to ensure greater consistency for the student between their parents, clinicians and teachers.

He said there were data studies under way at UNSW which would help inform future choices in the field.

"All of our children who have gone through the program have made dramatic improvements," Mr Green said.

"It's just amazing to see, even within my own school, the progress these children have made and to look at the strategies that have been utilised.

"It's been a very hard, wonderful journey to this stage, but it has been worth every bit of the work to get the program sustainable.

"The most important thing is that this program doesn't cost any student any money whatsoever."

Ingleburn's PCIT clinic is the only one of its kind. Mr Green hopes it can grow to cater for the entire south-west region.

Local schools already involved with PCIT include: St Andrews Public School, Robert Townson Public School, Macquarie Fields Public School and Warwick Farm Public School.