Set to kick off from the Darwin Convention Centre this coming April, the 2017 AASE National Conference will offer delegates from all areas and sectors of school education the rare opportunity to gather in the Top End for two days of extensive learning and networking.

AASE treasurer Virg Hughes says despite the obvious focus on special education, the program has been designed to stimulate and enlighten all teachers.

“…we really want to encourage as many mainstream teachers to attend and support staff, because these kids (with disability) are not just in specialist settings, they are across all school settings – government and non-government, so really, it is open to anybody to attend,” Hughes says.

AASE NT president Karen Wilson says the committee has worked hard to ensure a delicate balance of theory and practical applications will prevail.

“[What] we wanted was to marry off the good solid research but also have the participants be enthused by what they have heard and what they’ve seen, and have something to take away to operate and use in the classroom.

“Because sometimes, it’s from a classroom teacher’s point of view, and it’s not just special ed, its all of our teachers, they sometimes come away and say ‘yeah, well that’s really good, but I don’t know how to put in into practice in my classroom’.”

Split into four key learning strands that cover ‘Education: pre to post schooling’, ‘Behaviour’, ‘Social emotional’ and ‘Practical strategies – hands on practice’, the event also boasts three distinguished keynote speakers, one being Professor George Sugai from the University of Connecticut.

“He gives them a framework in terms of looking at behaviour and then he gives examples of strategies that he has used or he’s seen other schools used.

“And he’s got a really good sense of humour so even if you didn’t get strategies out of it you’d actually enjoy listening to him,” Hughes laughs.

Another major drawcard will be the chance to check out some of the latest special school facilities in the area, an experience the duo report got rave reviews in the past.