Successful education program helps kids re-engage with learning

Above: Pine Rivers State High School Principal Doug Watson, Bray Park State High School Deputy Principal Eleana Kerr and Moreton District Officer Superintendent John Hallam at the six month anniversary of the RYVETS program on May 11.

Disengaged students who are finding it difficult to learn in a mainstream schooling environment have been given a helping hand to complete their education through an innovative new program.

A handful of students from Bray Park, Pine Rivers and Dakabin state high schools have been improving their literacy and numeracy skills, as well as learning important life skills, through the RYVETS program (Rivers Youth Versatile Education and Training Centre).

RYVETS is a joint program run between the three high schools, Rivers Baptist Church and Queensland Police.

The students undertake a flexible and supportive learning pathway to assist them to attend school regularly with the aim of breaking the cycle of non-attendance that often leads to a future of limited education, poverty and crime.

The program has been ongoing for six months now with amazing results, with many students who previously only had a five per cent attendance rate now achieving 95 per cent attendance.

The program is run four days a week, from Monday through to Thursday.

Pine Rivers State High School Principal Doug Watson described this program as “extremely important” because for one reason or another, many young people find the traditional method of schooling not working for them.

“The idea was between Education Queensland, Child Safety and Queensland Police to really look at those disengaged youth who haven’t attended school in long periods of time,” he said.

“Some students may not have attended school for 12 months, and that could have been because they have fallen out of the system, or have a lot of complexities in their life, or were struggling with everyday learning.

“By them coming and doing this program four days a week, they are being put on a successful trajectory that will lead to them to either return to mainstream school, gain employment or participate in further education and pathways.

“We are showing them that there are people out there that care and support them and want them to do well in their lives.”

Bray Park State High School Deputy Principal Eleana Kerr said every child learns in different ways, so this program was perfect for those that need a little extra help.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for student engagement because sometimes engagement is a very personal thing for us and our students,” she said.

“We have young people who learn in different ways and at different rates, which is ok, so this program really supports them to learn in a way which is beneficial to them.

“In the last few years with COVID and all the challenges that presented, it affected the kids and affected the wider community.

“This program has given a sense of home and a sense of belonging for these students.”

Participants and supporters of the program gathered at Rivers Baptist Church in Lawnton on May 11 to commemorate the six-month anniversary of the program.

Above: Teachers, students and other supporters of the RYVETS program gathered for a celebration at Rivers Baptist Church on May 11. 

How the program is funded 

The RYVETS program is funded by the three high schools and the North Coast Education Region, with additional assistance provided by the Queensland Police and the Baptist Church.

Support from positive role models 

A number of people are involved in the program include former teachers, school guidance officers, chaplains, and officers from the Queensland Police Service. 

Moreton District Officer Superintendent John Hallam was one of the guests to attend the celebration on May 11. 

Superintendent Hallam said Queensland Police were thrilled to support this program. 

“We helped with some funding and the reason we did that is because we saw a lot of great benefits in helping young people,” he said. 

“A lot of these children would not be in any education process if it weren’t for this program, so it gives the young people an opportunity to learn and to set some goals and achieve them. 

“A lot of these kids refused to go to school or were on suspensions, so it’s great to see them here today achieving their goals. 

“With the police being involved, it gives these young people an opportunity to make a positive relationship with police officers and get a better understanding of the work we do. 

“It also gives the police a better understanding of what challenges these young people are experiencing in their lives.”

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