The next generation of teachers and social workers will have a greater understanding of how to support vulnerable students thanks to an innovative pilot program between Federation University and Berry Street.
FedUni and Berry Street will train teachers and social workers in a partnership that will see students from the Bachelor of Community and Human Services and Bachelor of Education/Bachelor of Arts students complete work placements with Berry Street’s early education and early intervention programs.
The training will prepare future teachers and social workers for the collaboration and multi-agency approach needed to support vulnerable students to stay engaged or re-engage with education.
“This is a unique model because for the first time university students from both these programs will collaborate to develop the skills and competencies to undertake work to support young people,” said FedUni program leader Dr Tejaswini Patil.
“It’s an opportunity to give young people a holistic understanding about collaboration across social services, child protection and support agencies as well as schools to provide a wrap-around service for vulnerable students.”
Berry Street early education and early intervention manager Andrew McCausland said it was vital for teachers and social workers to be able to work together effectively.
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“Teachers need to know about the welfare side of things and welfare workers need to work with schools very closely,” he said.
“They need to be trauma-informed and understand the importance of relational work with children who don’t feel safe and won’t engage until they do feel safe.”
At any one time there are about 120 vulnerable children being supported through the five early education and early intervention program.
The unfunded pilot program will run with several students completing work placements during 2018 before the program is evaluated and further developed in the hopes of expanding it through regional areas.
“Young people face complex demands that span social and economic dimensions which can lead to disengagement from society and education,” said senior lecturer Dr Sharon McDonough.
“The effects of youth disengagement from schooling are profound in social cost, lost earnings, additional health expenditure, crime, welfare and social services.”