$171,000 funding for south-west school

A SOUTH-WEST school helping disadvantaged youth find employment and careers has received more than $171,000 to strengthen community support.

The WAVE program, run by Warrnambool Secondary College, will employ a social worker and project co-ordinator next year to improve links with agencies and employers, based on the successful Pavilion model in Melbourne.

In the meantime, work will continue on updating the old school building in a former Henna Street quarry, which last year was declared unfit for educational purposes.

College principal Mary Pendergast told The Standard yesterday she was hopeful compliance works would be completed by early February using an earlier $120,000 grant for roof, stairs, windows and electrical wiring works.

“The quarry is a terrific site, but the building very old and a lot of work is still needed,” Ms Pendergast said.

“We are very proud of the achievements of the students this year and have 37 enrolments for 2013.

“These are very, very disadvantaged kids who we take on to give them a VCE-equivalent education and get them ready for employment or further studies.”

Ms Pendergast said she appreciated the latest funding, announced by South West Coast MP Denis Napthine.

“Our aim is to have a network where we do the teaching and the community does the supporting,” she said. “We are not just a holding pen for kids in strife.

“This project next year will be to find what agencies, such as DHS, Brophy, WRAD, police and the juvenile justice system, can do with support for social, emotional, mental health, substance abuse issues etc. Kids need to build life skills that help in employment.

“We want to clarify which employers are more likely to be positive in taking on a kid who needs a bit of help.

“All that now is a bit ad hoc.  We want to systemise it.”

Ms Pendergast said there were times when the two full-time teachers and other support staff were taken out of their teaching context for justice system work, when that load could be done by relevant agencies.

South West Local Learning and Employment Network chief executive Toni Jenkins, a WAVE school partner, also welcomed the funding support.

Dr Napthine said Warrnambool College was among five schools to share in $1 million support for re-engagement programs.

“This satellite school is providing positive outcomes for countless students who otherwise may have slipped through the system,” he said.

“Teachers are reporting increased number of students finishing school and higher participation in work placement with many transitioning into employment, traineeships and apprenticeship programs.”

pcollins@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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