Philosophy & Rationale
Kamaruka was established in 2001 to provide a more appropriate educational environment for boys diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

As the name suggests, attention deficit is a problem with concentration.

The mainstream classroom, typically with 20 or more students, cannot provide the environment conducive to learning for boys with this disorder. Their need for a consistent approach to discipline and structure in their lives is not possible with the diversity of teaching styles they would encounter in a regular school setting.

With a staff/student ratio of approximately 5:1 in secondary and 3:1 in primary classes, boys who have fallen behind academically can be given personalised attention to overcome their weaknesses and restore their self-esteem.

The timetable is deliberately weighted towards physical activity and academic classes are interspersed with a more “hands on” activity to reduce the length of time the boys have to sit and concentrate.

Intensive Intervention Program
Over a period of two or three years, the intervention program at Kamaruka aims to address the social inadequacies and emotional issues associated with learning difficulties. Behavioural change is accomplished through a system of rewards and consequences, challenging boys to accept responsibility for the choices they make.

Boys between the ages of 8 to 15 years, who have low-esteem, but with average or above average IQ, will benefit immensely from the positive experiences and a sense of belonging.

The social skills training, strategies to self-manage behaviour and develop organisational skills, all in a very structured school environment, make the program particularly suited to boys exhibiting symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

It is usual for enrolments at Kamaruka to have a history of behavioural issues and consequently are already under the guidance and treatment by a health professional. Psychological assessments and school reports allow us to place students in appropriate classes to meet their individual academic and social needs. Following the VELS guidelines, the modified curriculum focuses on literacy & numeracy skills. Individual deficiencies are addressed with personalised remedial work for low achievers, and extension for those needing a more challenging curriculum.

Language skills are fundamental to the growth of self-esteem. The ability to express ideas and feelings is vital for the personal and social development of the individual.

The English curriculum is designed to improve reading fluency, comprehension, handwriting skills, expressive language, spelling and grammar.

The curriculum includes English, mathematics, science, art, drama, music, gymnastics, Foot & Fist Boxing, jiu-jitsu, swimming and outdoor education via 3 camps and one-day activities.

At the August Census in 2019, Kamaruka had an enrolment of 37 students – 11 primary and 26 secondary.

Procedures are in place, at Kamaruka, to ensure that school attendance is regular and students are punctual. Selective enrolments aim to create an environment of motivated students focusing on academic achievement. Students with a history of school refusal are unlikely to succeed in the Kamaruka program and are rarely enrolled.

As the primary enrolments have been progressively increasing, it was decided that a primary annex should be established to separate the primary students from the negative influence of secondary boys. The Primary Annex (the ground floor at 38 River St 4 doors down from the main building) was opened at the start of the school year in February 2016. In 2018 the first floor was leased, creating a more spacious environment with the ability to cater for up to 60 students.

A number of the students at Kamaruka attend counseling during school hours on a regular basis which contributes to the absence statistics.

Accounting for these absences as well as sick days, and special family holidays, the School Student Attendance Report for 2019 was as follows:

SEMESTER 1      SEMESTER 2                        SEMESTER 1      SEMESTER 2
Year 3          87%                         95%                 Year 7          87%                       77%
Year 4          N/A                          N/A                  Year 8          94%                       90%
Year 5          91%                         88%                 Year 9          87%                       80%
Year 6          87%                         76%                 Year10         91%                       83%

Transition & Reintegration
Of the 33 boys who completed the Kamaruka program in 2019, 28 returned to Kamaruka in 2020, and 5 moved on to a mainstream setting.

The Kamaruka program targets students with low self-esteem and social/emotional difficulties. It is our belief that subjecting such children to national testing procedures would only exacerbate their condition. Consequently, with parental support, students enrolled at Kamaruka are granted exemption from such testing.

The teaching staff at Kamaruka is committed to maintaining a stable environment with minimal disturbance to the daily routine. The Staff attendance for 2019 was 95%. Building a rapport with students and understanding each student’s individual needs is vital to the successful implementation of the behavioural program. Being a small staff, regular briefings guarantee a unified approach to teaching and the use of consistent consequences in maintaining classroom discipline.
School Staff
24 Staff were employed over the 2019 school year. No staff have indicated they have Indigenous Australian Heritage
Principal: ……………………. Full-time
IT consultant:………………. 1 @ call
Bookkeeper: ……………….. 0.1 FTE
School Counselors: …….. 2 @ 0.6 FTE
1 x 0.8 FTE
Teaching Staff: ……………. 6 Full-time
Specialist Support: ……… 1 x 0.8 FTE
1 x 0.3 FTE
1 x 0.6 FTE
1 x 0.1 FTE
Teacher Aides:                  6 @ 0.8 FTE

All teaching staff are registered with the Victorian Institute of Teaching.
Specialist staff and teacher’s aide all have a current Working with Children Check.

Teachers are encouraged to participate in professional development relevant to their subject area & to the objectives of the Kamaruka program. However, being a small school with a specialist program, it is difficult to release staff to attend conferences and seminars held during school hours.

Children diagnosed with ADHD and the associated social/emotional difficulties, react adversely to changes in their daily routine. The distress suffered by even one student at the absence of a teacher, can reverberate throughout the school in a ripple effect. It is a futile and counterproductive exercise to send staff to a PD event intended to help the teaching process, if the efficacy of the program is compromised.

To minimize the disruption to the school program, PD days are included on 4 occasions throughout the year. Each term, a school camp is held from Monday to Thursday, and the Friday is a pupil free day, during which professional development is scheduled.

In 2019, staff attended the following PD days:

Term 1

  • Curriculum Days 28, 29 January – IEP for new students; Review Child Safety Policy
  • Post camp Curriculum Day
  • Understanding dyscalculia
  • How to deal with Trauma

 Term 2

  • Curriculum Day – Review progress of students this semester
  • Understanding ASD and implementing educational strategies
  • Post camp Curriculum Day
  • Effective Mentoring Program 2019

Term 3

  • Curriculum Day – Review camp program effectiveness, review essential policy
  • Post camp Curriculum Day
  • A Detective Steps into the Predator’s Lair Disguised as a Child

 Term 4

  • Curriculum Day – Promotion of students/placements for 2020
  • Understanding Teen Sleep and Its Impact on Learning and Mental Health
  • Extreme Student Behavior Management

The Advisory Committee meets at least once per term to review policies and oversea the general operation of the school. The elected members for 2019 were as follows:

Alfonso Scibilia………………President
John Bibby………………………Vice President
Deneille Sutton……………….Treasurer
Rick Scibilia…………………….Secretary
Darren Giri ……………………..Parent Representative
Tom Witenden ……………….Staff Representative
Debbie Sojka …………………..Staff Representative
Marianne David ……………..Staff Representative
Natalia Zarzycka …………….General Member

Australian Government Targeted Programs
Kamaruka relies heavily on NCCD to run an effective intervention program. Most students enrolled first semester qualify for this funding for social/emotional disorder.

In 2019, Kamaruka received $145,993 from Targeted Funding.

Student enrolments are accepted throughout the year at Kamaruka, but are not able to access that funding after the end of Term 2.

Recurrent Grants
In 2019 Kamaruka received $1,473,451 from the Commonwealth Government General Recurrent Grants Program and $188,241 from the State Government Recurrent Grants.

Since the opening of the school in 2001, there has never been a substantiated complaint raised by any parent or staff member on any aspect of the school operation.

We have had the occasional disappointed parent for whose son the program did not suit. A number of students who present with comorbid disorders and mental health issues beyond the scope of our program have been given an opportunity at Kamaruka since no other educational setting can accommodate their needs. Some of these students do not respond to our program and have to find an alternative setting for their education.

Anecdotal reports from parents and health professionals reinforce the effectiveness of the structured program at Kamaruka. It is not uncommon to have parents report that students are generally more settled and are achieving better academically within a few weeks after enrolment.