Alternative Education

Education provides pathways for young people to explore and build their capacity through academic achievement and skill development that may enable social development, community participation and economic outcomes for individuals and the community as a whole.

Access to education is a right, not a privilege. Education systems need to provide inclusive settings with opportunities for young people to learn and develop in ways that recognise and respond to their diverse strengths, backgrounds, learning styles and individual needs.

There have been major changes to education requirements for young people in the ACT with amendments to the Education Act from 1 January 2010. Previously, compulsory school age ending was 15 years of age. All young people are now required to remain in education until completing Year 10. Following this, they will have to participate full time (at least 25 hours per week) in education, training or employment until completing Year 12 (or equivalent) or reaching the age of 17, whichever comes first (for more information, please refer to the Education Section of the Big Red Book). 

There are many reasons why a young person may have difficulties at school such as poverty, family difficulties, health, and social and environmental factors. It’s important to support young people, their families and schools to find solutions to these barriers. Suspension or exclusion from school may not be the best response and could lead to further exclusion and isolation of a young person.  

It’s the responsibility of workers and the community to know and action young people’s rights. Workers need to be aware of young people’s rights in education and support them to stay in mainstream education where possible.

Supporting Young People in Transitioning to Alternative Education

Entering alternative education can cause significant changes and upheaval for young people and may also be accompanied by other issues, such as a history of negative education experiences, associated feelings of failure, fear or insecurity, as well as outside issues. Planning for transition into alternative education is a process that can help young people prepare and work towards achieving their future directions and goals. Workers can assist young people to develop a transition plan.

Transition planning is a process that:

  • Promotes a smooth transition to alternative education;
  • Is empowering;
  • Maximises choices;
  • Informs decision making; and
  • Provides direction and purpose.

Transition planning is not a single event or meeting. It should start early to allow the young person to plan for a smooth and successful transition to alternative education. In collaboration and partnership with family and other support people, young people should be encouraged and supported to play a leading role in their own transition planning. The questions below help explore key issues when developing an individual transition plan with a young person.

1. Identify and work towards the outcomes and goals the young person wants to achieve from the education program.

  • What do I want to achieve?
  • What direction might I like to take in the future?
  • What programs are around that I might be able to participate in?

2. Identify the changes and challenges this may have for the young person, and strategies to help cope with these.

  • Why didn’t it work for me last time?
  • What type of program best suits my current lifestyle?
  • What might have to change in my current lifestyle?
  • How much will it cost?

3. Identify people that will support the young person to achieve their outcomes and goals in alternative education. Identify the process by which you will let the educational program or institutional the young person is moving into know what planning has taken place.

  • What support do I need from other people?
    – Do I need help with transport to and from the program?
    – Do I need help with the cost of the program?
    – What if I need to talk to someone about problems I might be having with the program or its impact on my life?
  • Who can help support me with these things?

Before starting – It is important to recognise that significant planning around the young person’s educational pathways may already be well under way. It is important to ascertain what planning may have taken place – by school, services, care and protection etc- ask them what plans are in place around education pathways before you start the process.

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