Blacktown Youth College

39 Mackellar Rd, Bidwill, NSW, 2770; Duff St, Broken Hill, NSW, 2880; Yileena Ave, Lawson, NSW, 2783

Established in 1997, Blacktown Youth College (BYC) is an independent, alternative community school operating from 3 campuses in New South Wales (Bidwill, Lawson and Broken Hill). BYC offers a diverse holistic program for young people, aged 14 to 20, who have become disengaged from education, but who are committed to learning and wish to complete their Year 10 studies. This includes students who have been excluded from or were not coping with mainstream schooling for various reasons and/or ‘at risk’ factors, such as homelessness, drug and alcohol abuse, or domestic violence. In 2013, 130 students enrolled at Bidwill BYC – including 40% Indigenous and increasing numbers of Polynesian students.

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How this program works

Underpinned by the motto hope through change, Blacktown Youth College aims to provide a nurturing, yet challenging learning program meeting the educational and social needs of students. The school aims to contribute to breaking the cycle of poverty and socioeconomic disadvantage by tackling educational barriers faced by students and their families. Adopting a case management approach, each student has an individual learning plan. Students are encouraged to strive for and celebrate increased academic success. There is a strong focus on student well-being. The Rite Journey program aims to better equip students’ transition to adulthood. A counsellor is available on site at all times during school hours and there is a peer mentoring program. There are no uniforms and students have a high level of freedom that comes with additional responsibilities. BYC promotes a restorative discipline approach and has a strictly enforced drug-free and alcohol-free policy. Students can access assistance with employment and further education planning.

BYC operates from 9.00am-2.30pm, 4 days a week. Students undertake a flexible, partial life-skills program, leading to the completion of their Year 10 studies and attainment of the Record of School Achievement (ROSA). Subject areas include: Personal Development/Health/Physical Education (P.D.H.P.E.), Visual Art, Design and Technology (DT), Food Technology and Hospitality and Work Education. Three new learning spaces completed in 2012 are set up for project-based and individualised learning. There is an emphasis on hands-on learning and activities are designed around students’ interests e.g. designing and constructing a skateboard as a DT elective. Students also undertake work experience and volunteer in the community. School-TAFE (Technical and Further Education) links enable students to obtain their White Card credential for employment in the construction industry. There is a focus on literacy and numeracy with one-on-one coaching available in reading, writing and mathematics. Students may enrol at any point in the year after attending a group interview with parents and/or caseworkers.