The Queensland Government has allocated an additional $288 million to programs to keep high school students engaged and supported in their education.
The programs will be aimed at those students who need additional support to remain engaged or become re-engaged in learning, and at those involved in youth justice.
The Queensland Government said the integrated package will combine intervention and prevention initiatives to support students to remain engaged in structured, supportive learning environments and in a format that meets their needs.
The investment includes $120 million to expand the successful Queensland Pathways State Colleges model from the current six to 12 campuses, with new campuses to be established in Toowoomba and Deception Bay in 2024, followed by Mt Isa, Central Queensland, Logan and Cairns.
The Queensland Government said these colleges play an important role in supporting vulnerable students in years 10 to 12 to complete their year 12 education, and create pathways to tertiary education and training.
In addition, $45 million has been allocated to create 50 new FlexiSpaces in high-needs schools, to add to the 52 schools that already have these spaces. The release says the new FlexiSpaces will have a dedicated teacher trained to provide extra support for students who have mental health issues or disruptive behaviour.
Additional funding will be allocated to specialised alternative learning programs run by NGOs in priority locations in Cairns, Townsville, Ipswich and Mt Isa, and for intensive case management for students known to Youth Justice authorities.
Other funding will be allocated to employing 12 new Court Liaison Officers who will work closely with students appearing before the Children’s Courts to help get their education back on track, while a targeted curriculum aligned to the Australian Curriculum will be developed for use in all Queensland state school alternative learning programs.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said her government understands the importance of education in setting young people up for success.
“It’s why we have invested $645 million to offer free kindy from 2024 – making sure Queensland kids get the very best start.
“But mainstream learning isn’t for everyone, which is why it’s important we create structured, safe environments for students to access education. In turn, we’re reducing the likelihood of anti-social or criminal behaviour,” she added.
“The best thing we can do for every young Queenslander, their family and community is to keep students at school and engaged in learning.
“Backed by funding of $288 million, this package is the missing link which will support education, intervention and prevention initiatives for students who are most at risk of being involved with the youth justice system.”
Minister for Education Grace Grace said the government was already providing a range of engagement supports in schools.
“Our comprehensive approach will target the most complex communities and students to keep them engaged in learning and get them back to learning quicker,” she said. “Keeping students connected to their school and classmates is the best way to prevent disengagement.”