18 July 2022

Life Without Barriers' Education Unit gained insights from young people at the 'Doing School Differently' conference.

Image: Board of AAFIE at the DSD22 Conference: Mr Simon Vaughan, Glenda McGregor, Dr Peter Reynolds, Dale Murray, Professor Kitty te Riele, Peter Underwood, Dr John Davis, Professor Julian Sefton-Green and Megan Hall.

The Doing School Differently conference, held in Adelaide, was attended by 400 delegates from all over Australia, including teachers, youth workers, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander support workers, policymakers, and researchers.

The conference, organised by the Australian Association for Flexible and Inclusive Education, included opportunities for attendees to learn from industry experts and young people sharing how to support education for children in Australia.

From Life Without Barriers Education Unit, Dale Murray, Director of Education, Michelle Murray, Senior Manager of Education, and Megan Hall and Lorna Genoud, Education Consultants, joined a stellar line-up of presenters running a number of workshops.

A a large theatre an audience sits facing a woman presenting on the stage at a podium.

Michelle, alongside other industry experts, shared strategies for improving educational experiences for children and young people in Out of Home Care.

Michelle and Lorna shared their insights and strategies in a workshop on how to support young people leaving care to further their education.

Michelle and Megan also ran a workshop on the Life Without Barriers’ Hook into Books campaign to support young people to engage with reading and literacy.

A group of people in a conference room completing a group activity on the floor.

The highlight of the conference was the panel of six young people from two flexible education programs in Adelaide, who shared their views about what made school work for them.

The young men and women shared their personal stories of exclusion and suspensions in previous schools, and their feelings of being unwanted and rejected. They shared that they wanted schools that show respect and care, empathy and connection, support, flexibility, and love.

The students also spoke about their current schools, Youth Inc and Specialised Assistance School for Youth, and described how they now felt equality and support in their relationships with the adults there.

"These young people may be disenfranchised from school, but they have such strengths and insights for their own education and us as educators," said Dale.

Michelle agreed, reflecting on how the panel emphasised the importance of student voice and positive relationships in supporting educational success.

"You haven’t learned a thing about Doing School Differently until you’ve learned it from young people," she said.

Education Unit

Children and young people are supported to build bright futures through education and learning “Everyday Everyway”

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