LIFE SKILLS: Fourteen-year-old Joshua Warwickwykes has been learning to mow lawns and yard care for eight months thanks to Maryborough Special School teacher Iain Hodge's innovative curriculum focused on life skills.
LIFE SKILLS: Fourteen-year-old Joshua Warwickwykes has been learning to mow lawns and yard care for eight months thanks to Maryborough Special School teacher Iain Hodge's innovative curriculum focused on life skills. Jessica Lamb

Nominated for teaching skills for life

IAIN Hodge is using common sense to set his students up for life.

The Maryborough Special School teacher has been nominated for his work on an innovative new curriculum for the University of Southern Queensland Teaching Excellence Award in the 2018 Queensland Community Achievement Awards.

Mr Hodge said his novel approach to the school curriculum was based around student's goal.

"I think just like everyone else, these kids want to grow up to live independently,” he said.

"So we are trying to prepare them to be as independent and self motivated as they can be in 20 years time to give them as many options and choices as possible in life.”

In simple terms, the school curriculum is just taught in everyday applications.

It's also built on a foundation of well being and communication before students progress into developing core employment skills.

"For example we teach maths incorporated into budgeting and being able to go shopping and feed your family on a budget,” Mr Hodge said.

"Almost a third of our students have very limited communication skills when they come to school so a goal for them might be they learn 50 more words and for us to set them up for life we have to make sure it is the right words.”

Nominated by principal Sue Omar, Mr Hodge is described as an "outstanding educator who has led initiatives at the Maryborough Special School to evaluate and improve knowledge of content and teaching strategies” by designing a whole school curriculum plan - Maryborough Special School Implementation Plan for the Australian Curriculum.

"Iain has taken a leadership role in coaching, mentoring and challenging colleagues in their teaching of the Australian Curriculum to ensure that it is realistic, relevant and meaningful for students with disability,” she wrote in her nomination.

"Ultimately it was a combination of research-based approaches that resulted in a teaching model that focuses on "the whole child”.

"At the beginning of the project, there was no funding to provide release time for Iain. All his research was done after school, on weekends and holiday periods.”