Two schools within the Ararat region have received more than a quarter of a million dollars in combined funding this week as part of the State government's renewed focus on inclusion.
Lake Bolac College and Ararat West Primary School have received grants to help them better cater to the social and educational needs of students with disabilities and additional needs.
The state government's Inclusive Schools Fund provides money for schools to create inclusive play areas, sensory gardens, outdoor learning areas, and other facilities to support student's social and educational needs.
Round six of the fund allocated $200,000 to Lake Bolac College for an inclusive playground, including new play equipment, shade sails and soft fall.
Assistant principal Nick Healey said it would be a great addition to the college, making play activities accessible to more students.
"We are excited to receive funding to add to the play opportunities for our students," he said.
"The space will also be utilised as an outdoor learning area for our students to maximise fine motor coordination growth and assist students with sensory development."
"It will be fantastic to have a wheelchair accessible space for the wider school community to use.
"It is part of our school's commitment to being an inclusive community school for all."
Ararat West Primary School received $57,673 for an indoor inclusive learning space.
Assistant principal Josh McDougall said the space would help improve student wellbeing.
"This will develop a sensory space that students are able to work in with adults to be able to regulate their feelings so their learning outcomes will improve when they're back in the class," he said.
"If they're struggling to settle into a class it will be a space where they will be able to work to deescalate their feelings and self-regulate their emotions to then be able to go and move back into a classroom space."
Mr McDougall said the school's commitment to creating the space was indicative of its increased focus on student mental health.
"When we got involved with the mental health and wellbeing pilot we thought about what else we could be doing to improve mental health," he said.
"We looked at the grant, and we thought it would be something that supports our philosophy at Ararat West.
"We know that all students come from different environments at home and some have triggers that might make learning difficult, so we just want to offer an environment that caters for all students."
More than 300 projects have been funded through the Inclusive Schools Fund since it began in 2015.
Minister for Education James Merlino said the fund seeks to ensure all students needs are met.
"This funding is about giving every child the best chance to meet their potential - regardless of their background or circumstances," he said.
"Disability shouldn't be a barrier to learning and achieving - these innovative projects are all about giving our primary schools the infrastructure they need to inspire a passion for learning in all students."
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