NET school helps Bendigo's youth

HELP: Mentor Jim Lowie helps Gabrielle Lock with her studies at NET school. Pictures: BRENDAN McCARTHY

HELP: Mentor Jim Lowie helps Gabrielle Lock with her studies at NET school. Pictures: BRENDAN McCARTHY

READ STUDENTS' STORIES HERE: Re-engaging young people

BENDIGO'S NET school is helping disengaged youth reconnect with their education.    

The school is part of Bendigo Senior Secondary College and works to re-engage people aged 15 to 19 who have left or are at risk of dropping out of mainstream schooling.

Teacher Jennifer Lee said the school worked to re-engage young people who had difficulty "connecting with mainstream education".  

She said barriers to education included mental and physical illness, traumatic experiences, social anxiety, family dysfunction and learning disorders.  

Mrs Lee said the school focused on providing students with a more intimate learning environment compared to a traditional secondary schooling system.

"We have small groups of 10 to 12 learners and those learners work with one mentor," she said.

Mainstream education is not for everyone. - Jennifer Lee

"Small numbers are essential - the closer the relationship between the learner and mentor, the better.  

"(The program) is based on a primary school model, in that they are not moving around from teacher to teacher.

"Also, there is a greater capacity to diversify their program."

Mrs Lee said students who came from low socio-economic backgrounds often did not see the value of education and struggled to visualise the bigger picture. 

"Mainstream education is not for everyone," she said.

"Something we have learned is that kids from low socio-economic backgrounds place less value on education.

"It is about getting them out of the poverty cycle.

"It is about breaking the cycle.

"It is a slow process."

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