Students placed

THE majority of students at Morwell’s soon-to-be-closed Woolum Bellum College have been allocated places in mainstream Latrobe Valley schools.

Woolum Bellum principal Matthew Snell said of the 27 students currently enrolled at the college, all bar five students would re-enter local high schools, including Lowanna Secondary College and Kurnai College.

Mr Snell, who is also a member of a State Government task force set up to manage the transition of the college’s students into alternative education, said Woolum Bellum teachers were working with each of the remaining students to find appropriate education pathway options, which included talks with youth support provider Berry Street.

School council chair Dr Doris Paton said while the outcome of placements into the mainstream educational environment might not “be clear cut at first”, she was looking forward to see who was going to “step up” to support the students.

“Once placed, these kids are going to need that extra support and someone who is committed that fits their needs, and not letting the system decide what is best for them, otherwise they are going to fall out,” Dr Paton said.

“Because they work closely with each student individually, I have enormous faith in current (Woolum Bellum) staff in finding a place for the rest of these kids… considering what’s available locally.”

Lowanna College principal Jason Bek, who is also on the transition task force, said students allocated to Lowanna were already attending the school to individually assess their respective needs for re-integration.

Mr Bek said students would not rejoin mainstream classes without the extra support and attention required.

“We’ve actually got some extra resources here through (the Department of Education’s) Wannik strategy (which is) funding that we can use to engage them,” Mr Bek said.

He said re-integration could involve specific tutorials including literacy and numeracy programs, depending on the individual students’ needs.

Mr Snell said the task force, which included Latrobe Valley educators, was developing an alternative model, such as a “flexible learning centre” to cater for local at-risk teenagers dropping out of mainstream education, which would include the non-indigenous community.

State Education Minister Martin Dixon did not reply to questions regarding the transition’s progress by time of going to print.