A unique approach to educating young South Australians who have become disengaged with mainstream schooling is being expanded by Edmund Rice Education Australia. Source: The Southern Cross.
FAME Flexible Learning Centre has been working with disenfranchised young people since the mid-1990s and EREA is planning to find a suitable site in the Christies Downs area, 30 kilometres south of Adelaide, to create a permanent home for the school.
EREA is also working with Catholic Education SA as part of the ‘Vision for the North’ and will be establishing a similar permanent school in the northern suburbs.
Classified as Special Assistance Schools, they continue the mission of Edmund Rice, founder of the Christian Brothers.
Gerard Keating, EREA Central West Network principal, said there were more than 20 flexible learning centres across Australia for young people who for many complex reasons are unable to be part of a mainstream school.
“These schools are vital and there is a growing need for them,” Mr Keating said. “There are more and more young people who are falling through the cracks of mainstream schooling for all sorts of reasons … their past engagement with education, their family circumstances and own personal circumstances.”
With almost a decade as head of campus, Yvonne Schultz said it was always wonderful to witness the transformation of “disengaged” students becoming engaged in the FAME way of learning.
“What surprises me is the resilience in the kids. That’s what keeps us going,” Ms Schultz said.
“We have young people who have not been at school for up to 18 months and others who have had lots of gaps in their schooling. They come here and we find in this environment they’re not frustrated, they’re not angry, they feel safe, they are not categorised."
As the name suggests, FAME (Flexible Accredited Meaningful Engagement) means the students can study at their own pace, with many choosing to complete year 12 over two years. VET programs are also offered.
After being “asked to leave” her previous school, Makayla, 19, said her family was “so proud” of her when she graduated from year 12 this year.
“I mucked up quite a lot when I first started here but Yvonne never gave up on me and I matured and got into work and stuck it out,” she said.
Demand for FAME increases (The Southern Cross)