New school focuses on 'forgotten' teens

Wollongong's newest school will give a sense of purpose to the region's "forgotten" teenagers when it opens its doors this week.

Craig Davis College will be run by Father Chris Riley's Youth Off the Streets organisation at the site of the old Keelong juvenile detention centre at Cordeaux Heights.

School manager Julie Taylor said she and two specialist teachers would give potential high school drop-outs the chance to finish their education and gain employment.

"It's set up for kids who are disengaged from mainstream education.

"They may be kids who live in refuges, are homeless, have mental health problems or who are referred from schools that have tried everything," she said.

Julie Taylor, front, with teachers Darran Gardiner and Trish House. Picture: ROBERT PEET

Julie Taylor, front, with teachers Darran Gardiner and Trish House. Picture: ROBERT PEET

"We all have a real interest in engaging these kids, who tend to be the forgotten faces, and in giving them positive outcomes when they wouldn't have them otherwise.

"They will get a real sense of purpose in their life, as well as learning literacy and numeracy skills in a safe, small environment."

The two-classroom college is one of five NSW high schools run by Youth Off the Streets and will house up to a dozen year 9 and 10 students.

Four students are already enrolled to start next Wednesday.

Ms Taylor said there were plans to expand and offer more places for disengaged youth.

"Wollongong has a large population and there's a need in every area for kids who can't attend school for whatever reason," she said.

Students will be offered practical classes, such as hospitality and woodwork, as well as the chance to complete their year 10 qualifications.

"We will have really high expectations for behaviour, but we're all going to be on a first name basis, which is different to other schools," Ms Taylor said.

"Our training and background will mean we really respect the kids and where they come from and will be able to give them the best chance at life after school."


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