Door slams on youth alternative

CATALYST Schools, an innovative educational alternative for at-risk youth, has closed after Education Minister Peter Collier cancelled its registration.

The Department of Education Services advised about 130 enrolees from Wangara (boys) and Joondalup (girls) campuses to find new schools this year.

OK Youth Services chief executive Michael Parker strenuously fought closure and said he was ‘disgusted’ by the loss of a unique educational alternative with many successes to its credit.

‘I’m not embarrassed at all about what we’ve achieved,’ he said. ‘Many of the kids, particularly the boys, have been asking if we can do something for them but we cannot.

‘OK Youth Services will go into receivership and staff will be able to apply to the Fair Entitlements Guarantee for their entitlements.’

An independent panel confirmed the minister’s recommendation for cancellation after meeting three times and hearing twice from the schools’ board.

The minister, in a statement to Community, said Catalyst had failed to comply with multiple registration standards, including student learning, curriculum, enrolment and attendance.

‘Approximately 130 students were enrolled at the two campuses of the school, but no more than 20 were ever sighted at either campus over eight visits by the Department of Education Services,’ the Minister said.

However, Pastor Parker said records ‘clearly showed otherwise’ and he disagreed with the findings.

Pastor Parker said previously authorities had praised Catalyst’s curriculum.

Catalyst operated for about three years, offering project-based classes to youth aged 13-plus, who struggled in mainstream education.

Late last year, Catalyst lost its rented head office in Wangara and use of its girls’ campus in Joondalup because of cash-flow problems caused by State and Federal government funding schedule changes and delays.

The girls’ campus then operated from shared premises in Clarkson.

Catalyst also lost about half its staff and the rest worked voluntarily to the end of last year.