The Pavilion School

1-3 Sylvester Grove, Preston, VIC, 3072  and Shop MM1 The Edge, Westfield Plenty Valley, Mill Park, VIC, 3082

Established in 2007, The Pavilion School provides an educational option for young people who are
disengaged from education and training or have been excluded by schools or education providers, and who present with a complex range of risk factors, behaviours and life situations. The Pavilion School has flexible learning opportunities at two campuses – in Preston and in Mill Park. The School is a campus of Charles Latrobe College and Pavilion students are enrolled through the College.  The program works in partnership with local agencies and youth services and the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD) in Victoria. Students are referred to the School by family, youth services and welfare agencies as well as schools, but many students refer themselves after having heard of the school from friends. Student cohorts are culturally and educationally diverse, with about 20 per cent Indigenous students. Students work towards the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL). There were 195 students enrolled across both campuses in 2013.  There are 205 students enrolled in 2014.

How this program works

The Pavilion School is based on the vision that everyone has the right to education. The School aims to provide a positive educational experience for all students by providing students a relevant and individually tailored program in a calm and therapeutic environment. The strategic intent of the program focuses on three key areas: student learning, student wellbeing and engagement, and student pathway and transitions. Pavilion staff endeavour to create a safe and supportive school with flexible and individualised learning plans which are tailored to individual education needs combined with personal support from a multi-disciplinary wellbeing team. Staff focus upon the psychosocial rehabilitation of each student so that the whole person can develop safely and apply the principle of unconditional positive regard. There are 8
class groups containing between 10-15 students, with one teacher, one counsellor and one teacher-assistant working with each class group. Class cohorts are formed on the basis of who will work best with each other or through a unifying factor, such as the class group of young mums. The latter is supported by a teacher’s aide with early childhood expertise. The Pavilion school philosophy is to start where the student is and build an educational program around the needs of that student so they can learn to succeed within the new school environment.

Students 15 years or older study VCAL at Foundation, Intermediate or Senior level and participate in two hour classes 3-5 times a week. Students under 15 years old participate in morning classes from Monday to Friday based on the Victorian Essential Learning Standards (VELS). The curriculum is created to specifically cater for the Pavilion student cohort, focusing on four key subject areas: Literacy, Numeracy, Personal Development and Work Related Skills. Elective subjects are provided for students who are able and willing to participate in a more complete timetable, such as Personal Training, Boxing, Music, Visual Art, Film Making, Sport, Cooking  and Warehousing. The Pavilion school also offers Certificate II in Construction and Community services and links to school based apprenticeships and traineeships.  Students may also be linked to other accredited programs or part-time work and traineeships. Each student collaborates with staff to create their individual Student Learning Plan with Academic, Personal, Transitions and Pathways goals, which they review together each school term.


Outcomes valued by the Pavilion School include improvements to student learning, student wellbeing and engagement, as well as improved future pathways for young people involved in the program.

Credentialed attainment: In 2013, 104 students participated in short on-site courses, 54 participated in a Cert II or higher, and 30 students received a full Certificate.

Destinations and pathways: Out of 80 students who left in 2012, in 2013 20 (25%) were in work, 7 in apprenticeships (9%), 14 (30%) were studying and 5 (6%) had a baby.

Individual student achievements: In 2013, 15 students
gained structured workplace learning opportunities with 10 different employers. A student with a background of heroin use and school refusal spent four years at Pavilion, completing a Cert III Allied Health Assistance as well as VCAL and winning a local ‘Young Business Achievers’ Award. She gained a job as a result of her work placement at a hospital, and has completed a Bachelor of Health Science.

Engagement and participation in learning: The School has grown from 20 students in 2007 to 205 students in 2014. Students typically attend more hours each week in 2014 than previously. Establishment of the young mum’s program has increased participation by young mums and provides early learning for their children.   

Health and well-being: Students see Pavilion as a caring environment where students feel safe at school. One student commented that they have improved on a personal level; I have built my self-confidence and as a result I have made new friends. Students feel welcome to approach the dedicated counselling staff for support.

Productive partnerships: The Pavilion School works closely with partners (DEECD, DHS) and community organisations (Cities of Darebin and Banyule, NMIT, Banyule Nillumbik LLEN, Austin Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service).

External recognition: NAB School First Impact Award for the Alternative School category (2009); Federal Government ‘Closing the Gap’ Award for improving Indigenous educational engagement (2009); Victorian Outstanding Secondary Teacher Award (2009).

Wider influence: The Pavilion School supports other flexible learning programs through frequent visits from staff to Pavilion and advice for setting up similar programs. Pavilion staff also provide advice to high school Principals on how best to work with specific students.

Why this program is successful

Students identify the Pavilion as having a good atmosphere which is very welcoming and not at all intimidating, while the curriculum taught is useful and makes you want to learn. Students also noted that Pavilion staff are really organised and know what they’re doing and try hard to make it work how we want it. The School points to relationship-based teaching, student-directed leaning, and the combined Education & Social Work model.

Want to know more?

The Pavilion School 

Sources of information

Education HQ (2009). The Pavilion – howzat for big success! July 23. 

Pavilion (2014) Website 

Pavilion Governance Structure

Howie, J. (2013) The Pavilion Model.

Ryan, D. (2010). Hope rises in schools of last resort. The Age, February 8. 

Ryan, D. (2010). What do you think of the Pavilion School? The Age, February 8.

Schools First – The Pavilion (2009) Website 

Please note, where possible and appropriate, we have adopted the language and terminology used by the program sources (italic fonts) and referred to the most recent publicly available information.

This vignette was developed in 2014 by The Victoria Institute for Education, Diversity and Lifelong Learning (part of the Australian Government’s Collaborative Research Network) for the project Putting the jigsaw together: innovative learning engagement programs in Australia and supported by the   Ian Potter Foundation.

Download pdf: The Pavilion School