The Independent Learning Centre (ILC) opened its doors in Mount Gambier in January 2007 as a co-operative pilot program between the state government’s Department of Education and Children’s Services, the Federal Government FOCiS on Youth initiative, and, later, the Innovative Community Action Networks (ICAN) initiative.
Our students are teenagers who have either become disengaged from school or who have left school early in the hope of gaining employment. Many of them have experienced issues which would normally act as a barrier to learning and positive community participation, such as bullying, pregnancy, parenthood, mental and health issues, lack of flexibility at the host school and years of non-attendance.
The ILC’s key priority is to help these young people complete their South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE) and provide pathways to vocational training and employment through a more flexible approach to learning and individual case management.
The ILC facilitates a range of community-based programs to equip students with skills designed to assist their transition into the community in a productive and positive way, and also works to re-engage students into local school programs and to assist schools with initiatives to develop more flexible approaches within their curriculum.
The ultimate aim of case management in the FLO context, is for young people to be engaged through an individualised service which supports them to actively and purposely address the social and emotional issues that act as barriers to them engaging in a meaningful learning or earning pathway. An overview of case management outcomes is described below and in chart form.
Case management for living
A young person is supported through the FLO case management framework for ‘living’ when a case manager:
- identifies the young person’s specific health and wellbeing needs as they impact on their ability to engage in learning and transitioning to a learning to work pathway
- assists them in practical ways to ensure that these needs are met
- identifies appropriate services and supports as required, which may include support such as purchasing course work requirements and referral to other agencies and service providers, for example Health, Drug and Alcohol Services, etc
- provides practical assistance as required, such as negotiating and accessing Centrelink and other benefits, and accompanying the young person to medical or other appointments or, where this is not practical or possible, making appropriate arrangements for them
- keeps a case file on each young person they work with, including a case plan (Flexible Learning and Transition Plan or FL&TP), progress notes, assessment of needs and required support, referrals, etc
- maintains regular communication with the school and other professional staff, the student’s parent or carer (where age appropriate), the local FLO Program Manager, and other service providers and agencies.
Case management for learning
FLO recognises that engagement and attainment in learning are a key outcome sought for our students. A young person is supported through the FLO case management framework for ‘learning’ when a case manager assists a young person to:
- explore skill development for literacy and numeracy
- participate in accredited, quality, school or community-based learning programs
- develop and maintain their FL&TP.
Case management for transitions
A young person is supported through the FLO case management framework for ‘transitions’ when case management has a focus on:
- coaching and goal setting for future life and career pathways
The Independent Learning Centre is a Department for Education (DE) initiative. The ILC is designed to provide a flexible enrolment option for identified students. The ILC will focus on providing flexible support to keep young people aged 16 to 21 engaged in schooling or on a learning pathway.
Each ILC student has a self-paced Flexible Learning Plan and access to:
- Flexible school curriculum where the ILC student learns independently with a tutor or attends subject sessions associated with their strengths.
- A qualified case manager to assist with personal development, goal setting and learning.
- Assistance with numeracy and literacy.
- Community based learning programs with Individualised learning programs in an area of special interest.
- TAFE SA or other RTO Programs.
- VET and Structured Workplace Learning (SWL) Opportunities.
- Assistance in gaining an apprenticeship, traineeship, part-time or full-time work.
The range of learning program options offered to students will be based upon:
- formally accredited options (VET)
- and/or a combination of the above which meet the SACE Board guidelines for SACE completion.
This initiative aims to assist in the development of a community where all people feel valued, their differences are respected and their basic needs both physical and emotional are met, so that as citizens they are empowered in their participation and contribution.
ICAN, now known as Flexible Learning Options (FLO), has been successfully re-engaging young people with learning and earning pathways since 2005 in response to the South Australian Strategic Plan (SASP), which aims to have 90% of 15- to 19-year-olds in learning or earning by 2010.
Central to this commitment is ensuring that all young people attain year 12 or a comparable qualification, as a minimum, to ensure short-term and long-term success in the labour market. Underpinned by the learnings FLO had gained through trial re-engagement programs, FLOschools, a new DECS enrolment strategy, Flexible Learning Options in 2007, which is the principal re-engagement flexible resourcing strategy employed since then by FLO schools. FLO schools are now in the Limestone Coast and the North, North Western and Southern Metropolitan areas of Adelaide and the Upper Spencer Gulf towns of Port Augusta, Port Pirie, Whyalla and the Riverland. In 2008, 3 key successful school retention initiatives were brought together to form ICAN Works.
These initiatives were:
- Innovative Community Action Networks (ICAN)
- Alternative Learning Options (ALO), led by the Department of Further Education, Employment, Science and Technology (DFEEST)
- Guardianship Assertive Management Initiative, led by the Department of Families and Communities (DFC)
ILC vision statement
To successfully engage young people in the community with learning and career pathways through:
- individual case management
- personal Support
- flexible learning
- community partnerships
- community involvement
- learning and earning pathways.
Categories of young people we assist:
Guardianship of the Minister
The young person resides with foster parents/alternative caregivers/in secure care as determined by Families SA/Young Person Court of SA. Support for this cohort of students is to be prioritised.
The young person has had contact with the Juvenile Justice System, through Formal Caution, Family Conference, or the Youth Court. Support for this cohort of students is to be prioritised.
The young person does not achieve in the mainstream learning environment, because of conflict with teachers, or incompatibility with the processes and systems set up around group learning in a classroom environment etc.
The young person struggles to interact, integrate, is on the outer of social networks and friendships, excluded or a loner leading to a risk of disengaging or failing to achieve.
Bullied or self esteem issues
The young person has been bullied, excluded, alienated, harassed, ill treated etc, to an extent that their capacity to attend school and engage are hampered. They may also show signs of poor self esteem and low self worth, displayed through reckless/risky behaviour.
Health and wellbeing
The young person displays other factors suggesting they may be at risk of disengaging due to health/wellbeing, eg pregnancy, self harming, nourishment, exhaustion.
The young person has frequently transferred between schools or localities demonstrating likelihood of further transience and instability around learning/engagement.
The young person has a history of ‘minor behavioural issues’ within schooling, including suspension, exclusion, restart, disciplinary action. This does not include acts of violence and severe behavioural issues.
The young person is of a cultural background which places them on the outer socially and academically. All ATSI students would be automatically deemed to fit these criteria given the comprehensive data associated with retention and engagement of ATSI students and other action plans relating to their retention.
The young person is experiencing emotional, behavioural and/or psychological problems
The young person has disclosed or there is evidence of family dynamics and personal relationships that are negatively impacting on the young person’s ability to engage effectively with learning.
The young person has disclosed or there is evidence of use or exposure to alcohol and/or other drugs, either at home, within a social context or personally.
The young person has disclosed or there is evidence that they face adversity through unemployment or low income in a home setting which is likely to put them at risk of completing their education.
The young person has a diagnosed condition or disability, which inhibits their potential to learn. The young person’s capacity to succeed in learning is limited due to a physical or health related condition creating special needs for this young person that are not able to be met in a mainstream learning setting. Current enrolments in a DECS special class are funded under DECS full enrolment, and they therefore cannot concurrently be enrolled as a FLO student.
Neglect, experience of trauma or emotional, physical, sexual abuse
They young person has been neglected and/or abused or has experienced trauma, for example as a refugee.
The student is living in supported accommodation, ‘couch surfing’, or not residing in a stable/semi-permanent environment, or is living independently and is self supporting.
Program and course offerings
All students work towards their SACE completion. Learning plans are developed around the student’s strengths and career aspirations. SACE compulsory subjects are offered at ILC such as Research Project, Personal Learning Plan, Literacy and Numeracy. Methods of delivery include classroom, one-on-one tutoring and external (online packages).