St Luke’s Anglicare, 175-187 Hargreaves St, Bendigo, VIC, 3550
Established in 2006, St Luke’s Educational Services Unit (ESU) is part of St Luke’s Child Youth & Family Services. ESU is a Tier 4 Flexible learning option (Alternative Setting) of the Bendigo Education Plan, for young people aged 12 to 17 years who are unable to attend mainstream school, mainly due to extreme behavioural issues. Most students are living in out-of-home care (50%), on statutory orders and/or involved with St Luke’s Intensive Case Management (ICMS), Placement Prevention and Family Services. The program is based on a deemed enrolment scheme where young people remain enrolled at surrounding mainstream schools and attend classes off campus through St Luke’s. The Unit employs nineteen staff and works with 45 students.
How this program works
ESU aims to provide young people the chance to explore options in a non-threatening and supportive environment, ultimately to equip participants with the skills needed to address behavioural issues and return to mainstream educational options.ESU acknowledges the barriers faced by individual students but these barriers are not the focus. Taking a strengths-based approach, every student has an Individual Education Plan (IEP) based on their strengths and interests that includes curriculum options and a focus on their wellbeing and self-confidence. An active student support group (SSG), including the student, their parent/carer, representatives from the enrolling school and Department of Education and Early Childhood Development regional office, nominated case worker, teaching staff and the Manager of ESU, regularly meets to review the IEP. Every student receives case management support from their referring school or agency or St Luke’s youth services. Students attend the program for one to six years before returning to their neighbourhood school or being assisted to take a more suitable pathway such as TAFE studies, apprenticeships or employment.
The program offers a range of educational options enabling students to pass at their high school year level and/or achieve vocational Certificates (TAFE) and industry training credentials such as the White Card or Food Handlers. Other learning domains include Outdoor Education, Music, Art, Industrial skills (carpentry/ small engines), work experience, group work and life skills. Students have individual timetables that take account of their learning and situational needs. Attendance at ESU 1:1 literacy/numeracy is compulsory for every student (minimum of 4 hours per week). There is a mix of 1:1 and group work with a maximum of 6 students with 2 teaching/program staff.