Students to switch it up at Crusoe

Crusoe College's SWITCh space, used to help teenagers re-engage with their schooling. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Crusoe College's SWITCh space, used to help teenagers re-engage with their schooling. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

MAKING the switch away from a cycle of disengagement with school and anxiety around others can be one of the toughest challenges facing teenagers.

A new program at Crusoe College is seeking to encourage students back into school through peer support and literally immersing themselves in the school environment.

The SWITCh program was officially launched on Friday, and program executive director Debbie Spencer-Jones said it's already having a significant impact at Crusoe College.

"We have had success with two Year 10 boys who hadn't been to school in almost a year. Now they are both enrolling at Bendigo Senior Secondary College next year," she said.

The program is based within temporary walls inside the school's teaching area.

It started in mid-June and currently has four regular groups, including two all-girl groups, aimed at addressing social skills.

Individual students also have sessions in the designated space.

An executive made up of literacy and numeracy leaders, the school chaplain and engagement officers identify students whose attendance and interest has waned.

Ms Spencer-Jones said the program was designed to address the needs of the most vulnerable students.

"The students are all still on our books, but their attendance is lacking. Some have issues around anxiety and depression," she said.

"The reason we don't have an actual roof on the area we use is so that students can hear the hubbub of other students going about their school day.

"SWITCh was built because of a need... to have a dedicated and flexible learning space."

The school researched successful models at other schools throughout Victoria, with the final product similar to the Flow program operating in Mildura.

Member for Northern Victoria Damian Drum visited the school on Friday morning to launch the program.

He said the program showed "a great ability to change with the times".

"Students who struggle with mainstream schooling can go into the SWITCh room - a place that doesn't discriminate - and feel relaxed and welcomed," Mr Drum said.

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