Youth Engagement Alliance – Collaboration in Practice – ‘Pop Up Classrooms’


Laura:
We can’t really profile what a disengaged young person looks like. It can vary. From
homeless youth, who have very complex family backgrounds, through to undiagnosed speech
and language disorders, which impacts their ability to access the curriculum. When you
list their immediate priorities, …it comes down to survival needs. Voiceover:
When a young person is set for release from a detention centre, their bail, or youth justice
order conditions, usually requires them …to report to a Youth Justice service centre on
a weekly basis. However, the act of reengaging …in education was done offsite. Mercedes:
I work alongside my clients to achieve their goals. So that could be anything from finding
a suitable place for them to live, stable accommodation, getting back into education.
Our speciality isn’t education as caseworkers, Our speciality is building rapport with our
young people and we saw a need to have, I guess, someone who could advocate better than
what we can for our young people to gain entry …into education. Laura:
Youth Justice identified to our department …that there was a large number of their clientele
who were either not engaged in education, …or just not attending. Adela:
I was then inspired to start looking into …this with my supervisor Laura. And she knew
that the caseworkers themselves would be trying their hardest to place these young people
in the education system themselves, not really knowing the policies of education as well
as we do. Voiceover:
Both departments highlighted a need for more specialised education support in an environment
that was safe and supportive for the …young person. Through a collaborative working relationship, a single point of contact was established and the “pop-up” classroom was created. Guy:
We brought the classroom to the Department of Justice’s Youth Justice Centres, because
the young people were coming there. They were calm, they were receptive, so it was a good
place for the to attempt to do some learning. Laura:
Youth Justice was able to provide the space and also we could tap into their existing
systems. So caseworkers have great relationships with these young people so we can tap into
that… so we automatically have a rapport. Voiceover:
When the young person reports to their caseworker, they also make contact with the teacher and
undertake lessons, helping to transition them …back into school, or onto training or employment. Leanne:
So the pop-up classes are delivered to a cohort …of three or four young people in a certain
age cohort. Simultaneous to that, the Transition Officer and the Reengagement Officer are linked in with T.2.S, our Transition to Success program, …and that’s about ensuring our kids who are
doing that certificate also have some numeracy …and literacy skills that’s being tapped
on. Mercedes:
Basically taking the burden of having to case manage a young person and also take over all
of the support needs. We have someone, a Reengagement Officer, who can book those appointments, …who can attend those appointments and support our young people. Guy:
When a young person presents to me they’ve worked with Adela in pop-ups classrooms, they’ve
already got a great relationship with their caseworker who’s given them some opportunity,
some fresh direction, and then they have me come along. And then I speak to the young
person, I get… I draw information from the caseworker; I draw information from Adela,
and that gives me a wonderful picture of how best to support this young person. Mercedes:
Some of the young people that we do work with are exceptionally intelligent but they’ve
just chosen different paths that have led into negative behaviours or offending. And
there does come a time where some of these young people do want to change and they want
to get an education and they want to go to university; and with having the pop up classrooms
within our service centres it makes this possible for these young people. Laura:
The result of our collaboration is that we have young people who engage in pop-up classrooms
on a daily basis. Adela:
The collaboration has only come about with the willingness and the amazing effort by
all the caseworkers to actually come on board with us. I might not know what needs they
have prior to them seeing my classes if it wasn’t for the caseworkers. They might not
know what education level they can attend if I did not assess them. So I think that
we compliment each other and we highly respect each other’s position. Leanne:
And I think this initiative is an example of where departments acknowledging their work
together gets a better outcome for our kids, and that’s ultimately what we’re all working
toward.

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