by Marian Faa
AS WARWICK State High School announces the closure of its Mt Gordon alternative program, Southern Downs teachers have reiterated the need for individual attention for disengaged students.
Southern Downs Flexible Learning Hub head of school Chris Mason said students re-entering mainstream schools were at risk of falling back into disengaged behaviour.
"The (Warwick State) High School are doing their best to try to provide individual needs but in mainstream schools that is very difficult,” Mr Mason said.
"They risk going back down the same path and falling back into the same pattern as before and not being able to continue on with their learning.
"I just hope there is something there for these students to access.”
Southern Downs Flexible Learning Hub founder Owen Bonney said students became disengaged when they could not succeed in the mainstream schooling system for a number of reasons like poor concentration and childhood trauma.
"There are medical, social, emotional and academic issues why some students just do not fit in a normal classroom with a teacher in front of white board,” Mr Bonney said.
"Some young people just can't sit in that kind of environment.”
Disengagement from school may be expressed in a number of ways including misbehaviour, not participating in school work, social withdrawal, school suspensions and anxiety symptoms.
"There could be a loss in learning at some point through primary school and the further it goes along the more they fall behind and they get frustrated and act out or withdraw. Students may have anxiety, experience bullying or don't want to go to school,” Mr Mason said.
Alternative education programs like the Mt Gordon alternative program and the Southern Downs Flexible Learning Hub help disengaged students re-engage with education or look for alternative pathways towards employment.
"At the moment we concentrate on maths and English to build those skills, but we also look at projects to help with their social and emotional needs, team building and being able to work with one another,” Mr Mason said.
Mr Mason said students who were struggling in mainstream schools could apply to enrol at the Southern Downs Flexible Learning Hub, which has recently moved from Kingswood to a new site on Glengallan Rd, just 800 meters from the Warwick Christian College Slade campus.
"The move allows us to have better access to resources like computer systems the pool at the Slade Campus. Students can also can access other subjects through the main school,” Mr Mason said.
"All they have to do is go to the Christian College and get an enrolment pack and we do an interview and assess whether we can provide what it is that they need.”
Mr Mason said the Flexible Learning Hub currently had 30 students from grades seven to 12.
Funding through the Special Assistance School scheme allows students to attend the Southern Downs Flexible Learning Hub at no cost to parents.