Introducing Janine Barr, Dean of Inclusive Education


When Janine Barr was coordinating inclusive education many years ago at an another school, one of her students was experiencing the tough combination of minor disability together with rock bottom self esteem. It was difficult for his teachers to see his potential. He was a perfectionist who didn’t want to hand anything in. It appeared to his teachers that he had major literacy issues. His social anxiety and low self-esteem kept him at the bottom of the grade. But his parents and Janine were determined to communicate and collaborate to find the ideal teaching style that would work for him.

They tried several interventions starting in primary and continuing through high school. Janine was his inclusive education facilitator across many years. When he entered high school, she trialled new strategies and tools to address his problems. Janine kept abreast of advances in research and applied other strategies suited to the individual learning style and distinctive personality traits of the student. His grades began to improve, ultimately and amazingly getting him into the top six in his year. Janine moved on to another school but some years later the family found her via Facebook to thank her and let her know some fantastic news – the student had made it into Law School. And now this young man is a successful lawyer.

No wonder Janine is so passionate about Inclusive Education! No longer is there stigma about being on the margins, better support systems are now the norm. 

A lifelong teacher who grew up and trained in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, Janine has taught in every type of school: all boys, all girls, co-ed, independent, Catholic and state. She is at Santa Sabina to help all students with academic needs, whether it is to accelerate them a little when they are in the gifted category or to give a helping hand to those who have an issue with learning accessibility. Or maybe there are students who just need help with organisation. Janine will travel with them on their entire Santa Sabina journey looking for the best strategies to include them in all classroom activities and give them skills to learn independently. Collaboration and communication with teachers, students and parents will be key to her success.

Janine’s role covers early intervention in Primary Years to the access and inclusion provisions of the IB Diploma and the HSC and everything in between. Her whole school role also includes upskilling teachers where needed and she works hand-in-hand with our pastoral team.

‘Generally 15-20% of students need my help’, she says.

‘Differentiation within the curriculum, making sure we are catering for the margins and for the whole range of neurodiversity which exists at Santa Sabina are the aims of Inclusive Education. We all think differently, some of us are visual learners and some are auditory learners. Sometimes we need to learn how to communicate better and be empathetic, too.’

Janine hopes to establish her office as a learning hub. She will focus especially on the transition years of Year 5 and Year 7 which can be especially challenging for some students. Identifying the needs and strengths of students and being available to everyone are foremost on her mind. Her learning hub will be for everyone.

To counterbalance the demands of such an important role, in her spare time Janine seeks out theatre, musicals, lap swimming and time with her young family. Her favourite recent theatrical experience was the mischief, mayhem and humour of Roald Dahl’s The Twits which she saw with her six-year-old daughter.