This strategy seeks to address the challenges and opportunities faced by children and young people in out-of-home care.
Image: Two young boys and a young girl stand together in a front yard wearing light blue polo t-shirts.
In a groundbreaking initiative, Life Without Barriers has released a new Education Strategy "Learning Without Barriers" which aims to revolutionise the education system.
Recognising the importance of education in shaping the futures of children and young people in the child protection system, the strategy aims to remove barriers and provide unprecedented support to unlock their unique potential. By partnering with the care sector, foster and kinship carers, government, and various organisations, the strategy focuses on key areas such as promoting structured learning and advancing employment opportunities.
Claire Robbs, Chief Executive of Life Without Barriers, expressed her dedication to supporting children and young people in care, emphasising the need to eliminate barriers hindering their education and future employment.
"Together, we can enable positive futures and eradicate the challenges they face in education and beyond." Ms Robbs said.
Gillian Calvert AO, Deputy Chair of Life Without Barriers, echoed this sentiment, highlighting the crucial role of education in overcoming entrenched disadvantages faced by children and young people in out-of-home care. Calvert praised the "Learning Without Barriers" strategy for its strong focus on inclusivity and collaboration with families and the sector.
The strategy is underpinned by the voices of children and young people in care, who expressed their aspirations and desires for a better education experience. Their desires include having a supportive school environment working closely with their carers, feeling proud of their cultural identity, maintaining connections with family and friends, and enjoying activities they love.
The strategy acknowledges the existing challenges faced by children and young people in out-of-home care, such as higher rates of absenteeism and suspensions compared to their peers. Furthermore, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are disproportionately represented in out-of-home care, leading to poorer educational outcomes. Additionally, children with disabilities, particularly those in out-of-home care, often miss out on the full benefits of schooling.
To address these issues, the strategy outlines a comprehensive vision for education, focusing on individualised learning pathways, early childhood education and care, structured transitions, and holistic support. It sets goals for children and young people at different stages, from pre-compulsory school age to post-compulsory school age, with an emphasis on fostering lifelong learning, developing confident caregivers, forging purposeful partnerships, and creating a focused organisation.
The strategy also highlights the importance of inclusive education, in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. By providing coordinated reasonable adjustments and tailored teaching strategies, children and young people can reach their full potential in an inclusive and supportive environment.
Our vision is that children and young people are supported to build brighter futures through education: ‘Every Day, EveryWay’.
The impact of the strategy is exemplified through a case study featuring Joe, a 12-year-old Aboriginal child in out-of-home care. Despite facing significant trauma and exhibiting challenging behaviour, Joe's education experience suffered due to a lack of understanding and support from the school. The case study emphasises the need for collaborative efforts between child protection and education systems to ensure trauma-informed approaches and empathetic responses that foster positive futures for children and young people in care.
Through the Learning Without Barriers strategy, Life Without Barriers aims to transform the education landscape, break down barriers, and provide every child and young person in care with equal opportunities to thrive academically and personally. By working together with various stakeholders, the strategy strives to create a future where education knows no bounds.
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