Wirreanda Adaptive Vocational Education (WAVE)

105 Richards Drive, Morphett Vale, SA, 5162

Established in 2003, Wirreanda Adaptive Vocational Education (WAVE) is an alternative educational program of Wirreanda High School, supported by the South Australian Government’s Innovative Community Action Networks (ICAN). WAVE students enrol under the Flexible Learning Options strategy for secondary students that are disengaged or disengaging with mainstream schooling. WAVE students re-engage in specialised case management and individually tailored learning and earning activities that are recognised and accredited. The program caters for secondary students aged 15 or older who may be homeless, young parents, experiencing anxiety or living with a disability, mainly in Years 11 and 12. The program is cost-free to all students. In 2013, 130 students enrolled at WAVE.

How this program works

WAVE aims to actively engage students in meaningful learning pathways that affirm their personal strengths and enable them to experience success, discover their hopes and set appropriate goals. With strong support provided by teachers, youth workers, counsellors, case managers and mentors, students develop healthy relationships and networks, holistic learning and life skills and are empowered to make a positive contribution to society.

Located at Wirreanda High School, WAVE occupies several classrooms where students may attend Monday to Friday, according to their individualised timetable. WAVE students undertake the South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE, Year 11 and 12) in Personal Learning Plan, Maths, English, Community Studies, Research Project, Healthy Lifestyles, and Delta and Motion (music production and performance). Students may also choose from a broad range of Vocational Education and Training (VET) options and short courses, including Certificate I-IV courses on and off-site with Registered Training Organisations, The Duke of Edinburgh Award, First Aid and Barista. All students are encouraged to participate in Work Placement, School-Based Apprenticeship, part-time employment or volunteering and the employment assistance program. The Community-Based Learning and Personal Development programs promote self-understanding, independent decision making, creative risk taking, and enhanced employment prospects through community visits, guest speakers, outdoor education, challenge camps, creative arts projects and driving lessons. The Mums and Dads (MAD) program for students who are parents provides company, support and parenting education as they complete their studies.


Positive outcomes, indicating the success of this program, include: student re-engagement, motivation and accessing extensive community networks, vocational, educational and wellbeing outcomes.

Credentialed attainment: In 2012, WAVE students undertook 147 Cert I-III VET programs, including: 56 students in Hospitality, 17 in Hair and Beauty; 12 in Aged Care; and 5 each in Doorways 2 Construction, Brick/Blocklaying and Business Administration. 17 students achieved their SACE.

Program wide achievements: Graduates typically leave with their SACE and several VET or short course Certificates. Students achieved a C (the minimum grade required to qualify for the SACE) or better in 6 SACE subjects: 10 in PLP; 27 in Stage 1 English; 12 in Stage 1 Maths; 19 in Stage 1 Integrated Learning; 17 in Stage 2 Research Project; 45 in Stage 2 Community Studies (2012). 47 students completed work placements.

Individual student achievements: 4 students achieved Onkaparinga Council Community Awards for personal development and school achievement (2011-12).

Destinations and pathways: 26 graduates of 2012 took up employment, including 4 apprenticeships; 8 graduates enrolled in private or TAFE training courses, 2 went on to university and 2 continued their studies in other schools in South Australia.

Health and well-being: 40% of students participated in community based challenge programs such as beach aquatics, high ropes, flying fox and indoor climbing. 10 students completed the Operation Flinders eight-day trek through the Flinders Ranges. Students commented it was: relaxing and stress free, though mentally and physically challenging and nice to have a break and live more simply.

Productive partnerships: WAVE has established partnerships with 37 organisations for vocational education, employment, mentoring, outdoor, health, relationships and wellbeing programs. The partnership with Re-Engage Youth Services won an ICAN grant in 2012 to train young people in pre-vocational trade and business skills as they refurbish a bus to establish a self-sustaining mobile outreach facility providing catering, retail, deejaying, skateboarding and SACE training.

External recognition: Awarded the Southern Adelaide Innovative Engagement with Business and the Community Award, 2012, a South Australian Teaching Award that recognises excellence in public schools.

Why this program is successful

Staff identify: individually tailored and meaningful programs, structures that support students and assist them to overcome barriers and an environment free from judgement that creates lasting and trusting relationships.

Sources of information

Wirreanda High School (2013) School website (accessed 1.07.13)

Wirreanda High School (2012) Annual Report

DECD, SA (2013). ICAN Outer South Programs

Information provided by WAVE, 2013

Outer Southern ICAN Newsletter (2013) Community Partnerships, June, Issue No. 1

Pietrus, J. (2013). Wirreanda High School making waves with community engagement. On The Record, 28 February, University of South Australia

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 2013 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.