Kalgoorlie’s newest school Fairbridge College doubles cohort after first semester

Tegan GuthrieKalgoorlie Miner
Fairbridge College's headof school Jayden McKenzie said their first semester in operation has been a huge success.
Camera IconFairbridge College's headof school Jayden McKenzie said their first semester in operation has been a huge success. Credit: Kalgoorlie Miner

Kalgoorlie-Boulder’s newest school which enrols students disengaged from mainstream schooling has more than doubled its cohort since opening in Term 1.

Fairbridge College took over the Goldfields Camp School premises this year, offering 15 places for its specialised CARE program, focused on curriculum and re-engagement.

But with demand high, the school opened up additional spaces every term, with 35 now enrolled for next term.

The school, which is open for students aged 11 to 17, follows a primary school model which sees students work with one teacher for three or four hours of the day studying literacy, STEM, humanities and social sciences, and a unique life skills class.

The afternoon offers a selection of various interest-based activities or projects for the students to pick between, including everything from graffiti art to furniture building and darts.

Instead of working towards a WACE certificate, each student completes a Certificate II in general education as well as a course in their chosen pathway.

As a registered training organisation, the school is able to continue its support and guidance of students until they are 21 years old.

Head of school Jayde McKenzie said the school would continue to look at ways to grow to meet demand next year.

“I honestly didn’t realise we would have so many students in need to the point we now have a waitlist for next year,” Mrs McKenzie said.

“The community support has been amazing, they are really getting behind our students which is what I really wanted to see, I just didn’t expect to see it so soon.”

Students at the college were disengaged from mainstream schooling for various reasons, including learning disabilities or mental health issues.

Mrs McKenzie said the students had overwhelmingly increased their engagement since joining the college. “The goal is always to try and transition kids back to mainstream school if that is their pathway and the way they want to go,” she said.

“Here, they are not just learning the curriculum because it says they have to, they are learning stuff relevant to them and their futures so their interest is higher.” She said students were driving a lot of changes and projects around the school.

“They are really taking ownership of the school and have real pride of where they are from,” Mrs McKenzie said.

“We didn’t have a school uniform, that was something we didn’t want as a barrier for students coming to school, but they came to us last term and wanted a school jumper because they wanted people to know when they walk out of those steps that they belong to this school.

“That is probably the most humbling experience I have ever had in my time in education.”

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