History and Philosophy
St. Joseph’s Flexible Learning Centre (SJFLC) commenced operation as a registered school in 2012 and forms part of a national association (EREA) of 53 schools which includes, in 2017, nineteen flexible learning centres. SJFLC is a long term secondary school program that also offers the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL). The philosophy of the program has a practical focus, based in the application of four core principles of Respect (self, others and environment), ‘Safe and Legal’, ‘Participation (have a go) and ‘Honesty’ (being fair dinkum) among all participants of the Flexible Learning Centre. This is evident in the ways the organisational culture and practices are shaped through the application of these principles. In essence, the principles establish a ‘common ground’ among staff, young people and parents, a collective forum, where the means to resolve conflict, negotiate learning, recognise rights, responsibilities and consequences are modelled and explored, both within the group and individually and as members of the broader community. The 2008 Melbourne Declaration on the Education Goals for Young Australians states that “Australian Governments commit to working with all school sectors to
• Close the gap for young indigenous Australians
• Provide targeted support to disadvantaged students
• Focus on school improvement in low socioeconomic areas”
St. Joseph’s Flexible Learning Centre works with young people who are vulnerable and experience a complexity of inter-related needs. As discussed above, participation and retention are key elements in the philosophy of SJ Flexible Learning Centre, and the development of moral reasoning through the application of the four principles prepares students for responsible citizenship. The learning experiences also build self-confidence and esteem in students; promote an optimistic view of their potential and future, and assist them to develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to enjoy a healthy and fulfilling life. St. Joseph’s Flexible Learning Centre offers an inclusive and non-discriminating learning community to young people, who for a variety of reasons, are disenfranchised from mainstream education. Young people are enrolled from a variety of genders, sexualities, language, cultural and religious backgrounds, with particular sensitivity to indigenous culture and from backgrounds of socio-economic disadvantage. Young people are exposed to learning experiences that develop understanding and appreciation of diverse cultural values that constitute Australian society. Learning is focused around the individual needs of students and progress is carefully documented and monitored. Young people, in conjunction with their teachers, youth workers and wellbeing coordinator, draft learning plans with articulated education pathways.