Last stand by parents

Parents at a public meeting in Wangara last week spoke of the positive effect of the Joondalup (girls) and Wangara (boys) campuses on pupils who have dropped out of mainstream education.

About 30 parents, students and staff spent 90 minutes voicing their concerns before agreeing to circulate a petition and contact local MPs.

Parents said fee-free Catalyst provided door-to-door transport ensuring regular contact with families, taught pupils respect for education and their elders, prepared them for the workforce and showed love and care.

‘My daughter comes home happy, she gets off the bus smiling,’ one mother said.

Parents said other CARE (Curriculum and Re-engagement in Education) schools were too far away, did not cater for younger pupils or provide personalised transport.

One mother said she would opt for home schooling if Catalyst, which her daughter had embraced in four months there, closed.

The woman feared she would not get help in a mainstream school.

Another mother said her child, who has an anxiety disorder, ADHD and autism, was known as ‘a naughty kid’ in primary school.

‘What hope is there in Years 8 and 9 if they close Catalyst down?’ she said. ‘It’s not only about children coming here now, but what about those in the future?’

OK Youth Services chief Michael Parker said there had been delays rolling out a new curriculum particularly suitable for younger pupils before Department of Education Services’ inspectors visited.

‘We are rolling it out but there is still work to be done,’ he said.

Pastor Parker said they did not advertise for students.

‘We get referrals from the departments of Justice and Community Services and from government schools,’ he said. ‘For many young people, this is a last resort and for others it is a system that fits.’