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Re-engaging Queensland’s Most Vulnerable Young People in Education

26 May 2017

Vulnerable and disengaged students are returning to learning with the support of a growing network of specialist independent schools whose sole mission is to help young Queenslanders turn their lives around through education.

Special Assistance Schools have expanded at a rapid rate in the independent sector, with students and local communities embracing their supportive and integrated approach to student welfare and learning.

Independent Schools Queensland (ISQ) Executive Director David Robertson said latest student census data revealed the number of disengaged students enrolled in specialist independent schools had quadrupled over the past eight years to 1388 in 2017.

“Currently there are 17 independent Special Assistance Schools operating across 22 sites around Queensland – more than four times as many sites as there were in 2009,” Mr Robertson said.

“The young people at these schools have often experienced deep trauma or disadvantage during their lives which has disrupted their learning,” he said. 

“The teaching and welfare staff working at these schools are experienced in dealing with the complex social, emotional and education challenges facing these young people and in how to build up their self-esteem and get their education back on track.” 

Today more than 150 principals, teaching staff and youth workers from independent Special Assistance Schools will share their approaches and strategies for engaging and educating students at an ISQ conference in Brisbane.

Mr Robertson said teaching staff would unpack and discuss their approaches to teaching and assessing units of work and share their strategies for differentiating for individual learners.

“The dedicated staff at these schools deserve praise for the work they do and for their commitment to giving some of the state’s most disenfranchised young people a second chance at education and the opportunity of a better life.”

Special Assistance Schools rely principally on funding from the Commonwealth and State Governments because they do not charge tuition fees. Some schools raise additional funds through community fundraising or are backed by established organisations.

Media contact: Justine Nolan M: 0428 612 315 E: jnolan@isq.qld.edu.au

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