Ruru ways in global spotlight

LAUREN HAYES
Last updated 05:00 24/06/2014
Hera Fisher
NICOLE JOHNSTONE/Fairfax NZ
Ruru School deputy principal Hera Fisher, back in the classroom after attending an autism and behaviour course in London, works with pupil Courtney Cleghorn, 19.

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Halfway across the world, people are talking about Ruru School.

The Invercargill specialist school has attracted international attention for its educational programmes after two Ruru teachers took a trip to London.

Ruru deputy principal Hera Fisher and a fellow teacher spent four days at the Laycock Professional Development Centre, learning more about autism, behaviour management and pupils with complex needs.

Ruru School educates 74 Southland pupils with high or very high needs.

While the pair learned a lot during the conference, the trip also presented an unexpected bonus for Ruru, Fisher said.

Organisers, impressed by the programmes Ruru had developed, asked Fisher to share the school's original outlook with the group.

In particular, the school's vocational programme had been singled out as unique, she said.

Senior pupils, aged up to 21, take part in work experience and learn flatting skills while enrolled in the programme, preparing them for the transition from student to adult life.

It was just another example of New Zealand being more "supportive, innovative and creative" when it came to pupils with disabilities, she said.

The conference and travel costs were paid for by the school and board of trustees.

The trip was expensive, but was also "cutting edge" and the skills gained would benefit the school, Fisher said. "It was really one of a kind, and a once in a professional lifetime conference."

The teachers will now put new strategies into practice and share what they have learned with other staff.

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