Serena* had virtually dropped out of education but when she decided to give it another go and returned to a mainstream school, she struggled to attend.
But with the help of Navigator, Serena is now enrolled in an alternative community education setting where she is working towards VCAL and attending every day. Sandra Inserra, who leads Navigator in Melbourne’s west, says it’s about continuing on the journey for as long as a young person needs it.
When a young person becomes disengaged from school, it’s never a straight forward process,” says Sandra. “But with Serena we are now confident she will sustain her placement.
“We make sure we’re putting in place supports so that we can step out, young people don’t have to become dependent on us, and the others around them can help them sustain that.”
Navigator works with 12 to 17-year-olds who do not attend, or who are at risk of disengaging, from school. Most have a long history of disengagement and have attended school for less than 30 per cent of the term. Many have complex issues, including mental health challenges, which can make it more difficult to sustain full-time education.
Sandra credits the program’s success to its flexibility in working with the young person, their family and the school.
“Once we start working with a young person we begin to collect information that will form a picture around their challenges and their future aspirations,’’ she says.
The team speaks with other services which may already be working with the young person, and supports parents who may feel burnt out trying to get their kids to attend schools.
“The re-engagement plan might see them attending a half a day a week. We also link in closely with the school and look at what’s been tried, what’s worth trying again or any concerns or suggestions schools have,” says Sandra.