A GROUP of young people who may have felt ‘on the outer’ in mainstream education and unable to tolerate the demands of the normal school regimen have, nevertheless, achieved success in the classroom.
This week they graduated as Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning students at the Local Education and Employment Program (LEEP) at Longbeach Place Community Centre, Chelsea.
LEEP is a campus of Westall Secondary College that caters for young people who do not fit into the normal education groove. “A number have faced multiple hurdles in their lives and, for them to choose education and to complete their senior level, is inspirational,” manager Cate Baird said.
Asked about the barriers the students faced in continuing their education, Ms Baird said: “You name it and many of our students have had it. They may have had some form of mental illness, come from unstable family backgrounds, are transient, not living with their families, have some form of disability, are young mums, or are involved in the youth justice system; some have extreme anxiety.
“Many could have done brilliantly at school, but they simply couldn’t cope or fit in with the no-smoking policies, or not being allowed to have tattoos, or piercings etc. Little things like that set them off, then they get labelled as ‘bad’ kids and that label follows them from class to class.
“Yet they are not bad kids – they just don’t fit into the mainstream. Many have had no positive role models.
“Not every kid fits in. Some have come from brilliant families but don’t fit into the mould the mainstream wants.”
LEEP runs certified VCAL classes towards the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning, which teaching literacy, numeracy, work-related skills, personal-development skills and industry-specific skills. The subjects are all integrated into projects in the one big classroom under the charge of secondary school-trained teachers.
This week’s successful students have completed their intermediate level and now their Year 12 under the auspices of the Victorian Assessment Authority.
Many now have their eyes on rewarding futures: in tourism, aged care, nursing and various traineeships leading to apprenticeships.
LEEP had a number of Kingston Applied Learning Awards nominations this year and was thrilled when a senior student, Chelsy Ralston, won the work related skills subject area, as well as the overall professional development and student of the year award.
LEEP won the community VCAL provider of the year while Ms Baird won The Jenny Marks Memorial Award for Applied Learning Coordination and Support.
“This graduation and ALA result is a wonderful recognition of the LEEP program, but, more importantly, recognition and pride for our young people who require alternative forms of education to achieve success,” Ms Baird said.