A new learning program started operating at the Glebe Youth Service (GYS) on October 20, 2009. Since that time, over fourteen young people who were not previously attending school, work or any other form of training enrolled in the Pathways Project.
We aim to reconnect these young people with a successful learning pathway that may lead back to formal schooling, a traineeship or apprenticeship, employment, or university.
We recognise the need to establish a structured and stable program, in which learners receive consistent and shared messages from adults about learning and working together.
Our goal is to provide individualised and integrated support to each young person that enables them to develop the habits, skills and knowledge for more sure footed pathways to further learning, training and work.
Working on an interest project is the centre piece of our learning program and something that all young people and adults involved in the program will be involved in. We all need to be able to answer the question: What’s your interest project?
A number of Indigenous people are involved in various ways in the project. For example, Rebecca Mooney was on the panel that appointed the teacher staff. Jane Stanley (Aboriginal Curriculum Consultant) has been a member of the Community Engagement Team. Jane organised for Aunt Fay Carrol (Aboriginal Community Liaison Officer) and Carol Green (ACLO) to meet the project’s lead teacher (Caterina di Girolamo) and one of its academic advisors (Dr Deb Hayes) to be informed about the project and to seek their advice on the ongoing involvement of community elders. They indicated a willingness to maintain ongoing contact with the project.
In addition, Darryl Griffin (Director, EORA College, TAFE), and Annette Lamb and Linda Harding (MG MyGateway, Indigenous Field Officers) have attended a meeting of the Community Engagement Team. They offered to host visits by the students to EORA and Yaama Dhiyaan. Annette faciliated an outing for students on the Rainbow Warrior.
Michael Walker has worked on a regular basis as a teacher’s aide. Michael’s involvement is funded by TAFE and other resources.
Bruce Shillingsworth (ACLO) has visited the classroom and, together with Michael, met with some of the boys. He has indicated that he is willing to act as an Indigenous mentor.
Barbara McGready has worked as an occasional volunteer. Barbara is studying at Tranby
Dr Romaine Moreton has provided professional guidance and support to Caterina, and has been invited to participate in the project as an Indigenous academic advisor. In response to a letter of invitation to participate in the Pathways Project in this way, Romaine replied:
Indigenous ways of learning are holistic, and given this, the optimal aim would be to have Indigenous educators and community involvement in every phase of development in the Pathways Project to build a sense of Indigenous ownership and responsibility. This can only occur through outlining and adhering to appropriate Indigenous cultural protocol procedures.
Romaine has made the following recommendations:
• Consultation with highly skilled Indigenous educators and community members in order to Indigenise the pedagogy and curriculum
• Develop a set of protocols through the collaborative process to outline a collective (Indigenous and western) cultural vision to inform the Pathways Project
• Cultural training for all staff involved in the Pathways Project
• The employment of appropriately skilled and culturally trained educators to support the principal teacher
• a new, better resourced space.
While recognising that the Glebe Pathways Project also caters for non-Indigenous students, it is proposed that the Community Engagement Team consult with Dr Moreton and other Indigenous educators and community leaders as a matter of priority in 2010 to find ways of addressing these recommendations.
Connecting with one student at a time
Potential students for the project are identified by the Home School Liaison Officer (Louise Brennan). Most students live in Glebe, have attended either Leichardt or Balmain campuses of Sydney Secondary College, and have not attended school over a long period of time.
Students requesting entry to the project are required to participate in a Learning Plan meeting with a parent, guardian or supportive adult. The participation of a parent, usually mothers, is an important element of settling some students into the project.
All students have started to work on a visual process diary and a blog. These are the primary documents that record the development of their interest projects.
The Curriculum Design Team (facilitated by Ann King, former Principal Ashfield Boys High School and Margaret Wheeler, former Principal Pittwater High School) has met regularly on Wednesday afternoons. This is the primary means by which we are providing regular support for the teachers and adapting Big Picture principles to the Pathways context.
In 2010, we aim to match each student to an expert adult who can extend, validate and inspire their developing interest. This will require the support of volunteers who will work with students to identify, contact and communicate with their expert.
As well as the previously mentioned Indigenous volunteers and mentors, a number of other volunteers have participated in the program in 2009. Terry Clark (former Principal, Leichardt High School) has been present on a number of Wednesdays. In order to support development of this element of the curriculum, we need a process for identifying and inducting new volunteers.
It is proposed that the Community Engagement Team (facilitated by Keiran Kevans) coordinate the development and implementation of this process.
Induction of new teachers, workers and volunteers
We recognise the need to introduce people who are new to the project to the ideas, practices and goals that underpin it. For some this will include participating in a Big Picture training workshop, for all it will require developing an interest project.
Teachers at Sydney Secondary College will be invited to express an interest in working as an associate teacher on the project during 2010. These teachers will be asked to attend a Big Picture workshop in January.
It is proposed that the College Principal (Doreen Wilson) will coordinate this process.
We will work towards creating a webpage to introduce new people to students and adults involved in the project. It will show the names, photos and short biographies of people involved in the project. Information will be uploaded by students, who will conduct a brief interview with workers designed to introduce workers to the students prior to commencing their involvement in the project.
Supporting young lives
We recognise that young people enrolled in the Pathways project face many challenges. Disruption to their schooling reflects other disruptions in their families, where they live, and in their social networks.
In order to integrate the work of key personnel, we will explore new ways of working across organizations, and with families and communities. This is a priority issue for the program in 2010.
From the start of 2010, teachers and youth workers will meet every fortnight to share information about individual students. This meeting will establish and operate under agreed privacy guidelines and, when necessary, case conferences will be organized with young people and their families.
It is proposed that the Co-ordinator, Glebe Youth Service (Col Stokes) coordinate these activities.
We will also initiate specific training and support for teachers, youth workers and volunteers to develop consistent and shared approaches to dealing with challenging behavior upstairs and downstairs at the Youthie.
It is proposed that the Glebe Youth Service (Keiran Kevans) and the academic advisor (Deb Hayes) coordinate a workshop for all staff involved in the project early in 2010.
Structure of the program
We recognise the importance of regular on-time attendance to develop commonly expected work habits. Our goal is for all students to be attending more frequently and staying longer. While five and three day programs have been trialed, this goal is perhaps best supported by a five day program.
It is proposed that in 2010 the classroom-based program will commence at 10am and conclude at 1pm. A range of afternoon options will be explored such as visits with experts, team and individual sport programs, tutoring, etc. The College Principal will continue to supervise the staffing of this program.
As well as the classroom based program, we recognise the importance of field trips. The field trips are a means by which all students can support and learn from individual interest projects. They may develop a form in which students adopt particular roles such as: photographer, story teller, commentary, sound recordist, camera operator, logisitics, etc. The collaborating teacher will assume organisational responsibility for these experiences.
The teaching assistant will assume organisational responsibility for the other experiences, such as visits to NITV, Bangarra, Yaama Dhiyaan, etc.
Connecting with community
The Community Engagement Team is the primary means by which the project is attempting to connect and communicate with local community members and organisations. Members of this team include Roelof Smilde (GYS, Board Member), Goeff Hockey (Chaplain, Sydney Secondary College), Jane Stanley, Louise Brennan (Home School Liaison Officer), Rachel McAuslan (Relieving Aboriginal Education Officer). Keiran Kevans (GYS) has facilitated this group.
Sustaining the partnership
The Glebe Pathways project is a broad-based collaboration between a number of organizations, including: Sydney Secondary College, Glebe Youth Service, The University of Sydney (Faculty of Education & Social Work), TAFE Outreach, Big Picture Education Australia, Glebe Public School, and The City of Sydney,
The main mechanism for communication between these partners is through the Strategic Planning Team. We value the strength of this partnership and the good will that underpins it. In order to sustain the partnership we will establish a schedule of regular meetings in 2010 with agreed themes, and processes.
It is proposed that the John Maynard (City of Sydney, Senior Project Co-ordinator - Safe City) will coordinate these meetings.
A new name?
Currently, the Glebe Pathways Project is described in various ways, such as the new learning program or school at the Youthie, the Pathways Project, Re-engage, etc.
It is proposed that we find a new name for the project that reflects it purposes and helps to establish a distinct identity. Some suggestions include: Barragroup (Barra is an Aboriginal word for ‘hook’), Gallery 2037, The Studio, etc.