The Professional Association for Learning Support (PALS) was established in 1996, as a professional association for all professionals who work in support roles related to learning.

This includes class teachers; specialist teachers; speech pathologists; psychologists; occupational therapists and medical practitioners.

The Professional Association for Learning Support is administered by the Professional Teachers’ Council NSW. An elected committee directs all professional activities.

Our Association aims to:

  • actively support Learning Support personnel
  • alert members to appropriate resources and professional activities
  • establish and maintain links between all bodies involved in learning support
  • establish a professional network through all levels of education
  • share knowledge of best practice
  • provide a representative voice for all learning support personnel

                            Celebrating 20 years in 2016!!!

PALS The professional Association for Learning Support Inc

PALS was formed from the need to have an association that represented the increasing number of teachers who were being appointed to schools and categorised as “additional to establishment” and whose role was to work with students with learning difficulties particularly in the area of literacy. Like school counsellors, librarians and career teachers the teachers had a unique role in a school with very few support networks. Often the most isolated were those appointed to secondary schools and challenged with providing support for students in settings not as adaptable as the primary setting.

One support network that was available at the time were the regional (then called clusters) meetings of learning and support teachers within the Department of School Education. Each of the regional cluster groups had a convener.   In 1996 the Metropolitan East convener was Anne Kennedy. It was at these meetings that the idea of a professional association was formed. The Joint Council of professional teaching associations was consulted and all the steps then followed for setting up an incorporated professional association that represented teachers from all three educational sectors.

On the 26th June 1996 a meeting was called with 41 teachers attending this meeting and PALS was born. We decided to adopt a name that would be representative of our role working in collaboration with our fellow teachers in supporting students in their learning. Anne Kennedy was elected as our inaugural President… the PALS journey had begun!

And what a journey! No longer do schools regard the education of students with diverse needs in mainstream settings as the sole responsibility of learning and support teachers.

Each year we have run courses and produced newsletters, aiming to keep all our members up to date with the latest research and effective practice. We were at the forefront in providing professional development on inclusive practice. Our Quality Teaching Project on the Effective teaching of Vocabulary has been a highlight. In 2014 we formed a partnership with Emeritus Professor Tony Shaddock in providing a 3 day program in Sydney and regional centers.

Of the 41 teachers at that original meeting 3 teachers have been there for most of the time….Ros Broomfield, Geoff Sillar and myself. I pay tribute to Ros because she joined not as a learning and support teacher but as a classroom teacher anxious to provide the best education for the students in her class who were struggling. I pay tribute to all the teachers across the state, who have joined our committee over the years and given up hours of time in volunteer work often with little recognition of this work. With the realisation that us “oldies” on the committee must pass on the baton we are encouraged that teachers have indicated that they would like to be involved with PALS committee work. The next 20 years will be significantly different to the past twenty but we will remain PALS.

 

Annette Guterres 31st March 2016