New school offers choice

Paul van Breugel and Gus Seremetis outside the new school site.

Students from the City of Casey and surrounding areas who struggle with mainstream education are set to benefit from a new specialist secondary school at Berwick.

The campus is an extension of Yarra Ranges-based Cire Community School, which has a strong reputation as a ‘school of choice’ for young people disengaged or at risk of disengaging from their education.

Drawing on a range of research into trauma informed education Including the Berry Street Education Model, Cire Community School provides young people with an alternative to mainstream education and realistic career pathways.

Testimony to its success, student numbers at the Yarra Junction and Mount Evelyn campuses have grown 86 percent since 2015 to more than 200. Years 5 and 6 are being offered for the first time this year at Yarra Junction.

The launch of the Berwick campus follows an 18-month process including securing approval from the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA). It aligns with Cire’s Strategic Plan to source opportunities, with a lens on areas of need and growth that complement its existing campuses.

“Berwick offers an amazing opportunity to extend what we deliver, and do well, in the Yarra Ranges and adjacent areas,” said Cire CEO Gus Seremetis.

“Cire Community School is one of choice, offering alternative education for young people who struggle in mainstream education for all kinds of reasons. We are not competing with other schools, we simply offer a positive alternative with many successful outcomes.”

Cire enjoys a strong reputation and track record for engaging students who have previously struggled; some have not attended school for up to 18 months or more before enrolling at Cire.

Successful outcomes include students transitioning to TAFE and further education, employment including apprenticeships and traineeships, and returning to mainstream school.

Cire Community School’s executive principal, Paul van Breugel said he is proud that Cire’s model and expertise in specialist education can be extended to the City of Casey and adjacent areas where schools have identified the need for such alternative education.

“Local young people who need this type of education will have access to better opportunities to learn and grow and become successful adults,” Paul said.

Cire Community School’s success is underpinned by specialist wellbeing teams and dedicated staff on each campus where each student is respected as an individual with unique needs.

“Our flexible and innovative approach is reflected in individual learning plans for each student, enabling them to achieve at their own pace and in their own way,” Paul explained.

Cire Community School campuses offer a welcoming environment to ensure students have a sense of belonging, purpose and growth, and are supported in their learning, wellbeing and life goals.

The Berwick campus, formerly the Insight Education Centre for the Blind and Vision Impaired, is offering middle years and a VCAL program with the first intake of students beginning at the start of the 2021 school year.

Already with strong enrolments and levels of interest, the Berwick Campus has the capacity for 90 students and the potential for further growth.

In addition to the Community School, Cire’s other core operations are Cire Children’s Services with centres at Yarra Junction, Mount Evelyn and Chirnside Park; Lilydale-based Cire Training, a registered training organisation, with First Impressions Clothing Exchange (FICE) at Mooroolbark; and Cire Community Hubs at Yarra Junction and Chirnside Park.

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