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Inside Teaching : April 2010
Inside Teaching | April 2010 FEATURE 12 technology workshops run by Technical and Further Education (TAFE) NSW and designing and producing children’s books to completing Senior First Aid and courses in boat building and restoration. Staff members work closely with the NSW Department of Education to encourage a return to mainstream education when appropriate, while extra care is taken to ensure that the emotional and behavioural issues students face in their day-to-day lives are addressed through the provision of a range of fully- integrated and supportive programs. The Redfern campus provides education and support for students who are homeless or in unstable accommodation. Many students face multiple accommodation moves during the school year. By assisting in placing students in short-, medium- or long-term accommodation, the school provides a stable environment to help them overcome the barriers they face. As Single observes, students demonstrate noticeable improvements in literacy and numeracy, and benefit from activities that enable them to develop life skills and confidence to enhance their future employability. ‘We ensure issues such as harassment, drug and alcohol use, self-image, conflict resolution, puberty, sex education and hygiene are addressed,’ she says. ‘Good social skills are an important part of the support we provide, as few of our students have been exposed to these within their family. We’ve developed many activities to assist students with integrating positively into society and to develop life skills. ‘This is necessary before learning can begin as many behavioural and emotional issues prevent students from being able to focus on learning.’ The idea, she explains, is to help them to achieve the stability necessary for them to engage in learning. Then further work can be done to address the issues affecting them while they gain a formal education. ‘We endeavour to ensure that by the time they complete their education, the students have a strong feeling of belonging to a community, possibly for the first time in their lives. We’re also committed to ensuring that support continues when the student leaves if necessary.’ Working with Single, as the principal of all three campuses, is a full-time school manager and at least one full- time teacher for each campus, as well as part-time teachers, psychologists, support workers, and intern counsellors. As teacher Min Bonwick says, staff members care deeply for the welfare of the students and work tirelessly to help them achieve positive outcomes. Bonwick isn’t alone: the three campuses enjoy a 100 per cent staff retention rate and an absentee rate of just two per cent. ‘I love my job here,’ Bonwick says. ‘Every day is different, with new Ross Smart is the communications coordinator for Youth Off The Streets and a freelance journalist. Pictured, students from Key College, Sydney. Photos courtesy of Youth Off The Streets. Key College received the highly commended award in the Excellence by a School and its Community category of the 2009 Australian Awards for Teaching Excellence of the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership. Contact keycollege@ youthoffthestreets.com.au LINKS: www.youthoffthestreets.com.au www.aitsl.edu.au challenges popping up all the time. It’s also a creative role. The kids we deal with are refreshing and amazingly resilient.’ Student attendance rates are also encouraging, with trends showing greater engagement and attendance the longer a student spends at Key College. Of those students who finish any given year, figures show that attendance rates rise significantly in terms three and four. By tailoring the approach to the needs of each individual student, Key College is achieving positive outcomes one young person at a time. It’s a tough, but vital job. ■