Tucked away in a refurbished commercial building that overlooks a wetland nature refuge in the Logan suburb of Berrinba is a new school that’s set to shake up how education is delivered in the region. The new school in Logan is Arethusa College – an independent school that specialises in educating vulnerable young people whose challenging life circumstances have made it difficult for them to achieve success in a mainstream school setting. Also known as a Special Assistance School.
Berrinba is Arethusa College’s eighth southeast Queensland campus and has been established to respond to rising parent and community demand for schools to be done differently.
Berrinba Campus Principal Lara Smith – who has worked as a teacher and school leader in Logan for more than 20 years – interviewed students and families in the lead-up to the school’s official opening on 22 January 2024.
“We’ve already enrolled 27 young people from Years 7 to 10 for the start of the 2024 school year, which is exciting for them and our College. We saw this number increase after our first community Open Day on 19 January,’’ she said.
What is a Special Assistance School?
Ms Smith said while each student had a unique story and reason for joining Arethusa College, they all wanted to find a connection with and be part of a close-knit and supportive community.
“These young people want to learn. They just need the right environment and support around them to make that happen,’’ she said.
“I’m passionate about engaging and empowering students to become independent and capable thinkers who know they are exceptional humans worthy of great things in life. I’m excited because I know that we can make a difference in the lives of these young people.”
Ms Smith said over the last 20 years of her career, she had witnessed, with rising concern, the growing disengagement and detachment of young people from education.
“I’ve always worked in schools with complex needs, so when I saw Arethusa’s integrated education and welfare model, it rang true to me because it’s everything I’ve believed in all my career but haven’t had the flexibility to deliver,” she said.
“Arethusa College moulds school around the needs of the young person – from the length of their school day or week to how their individual learning program is structured and delivered.
“The College also provides breakfast and lunch daily to students and staffs its campuses 50 weeks of the year so students can drop in over the school holidays if they need a chat, support, or a safe place to stay for the day.’’
Ms Smith said she hopes to incorporate the Berrinba Wetlands Nature Refuge – located on the College’s doorstep – into the school program, as well as sports and other activities of interest to the students.
“Many of our students have already indicated their interest in basketball, so establishing partnerships with local basketball facilities and clubs will be a priority. The beauty of a new campus like Berrinba is that from day one, we can build a school culture and program shaped by the needs and passions of our young people,’’ she said.
“We want to inspire them to dream big and know that they can achieve what they want in life.”
About Arethusa College – School in Logan
Arethusa College is an accredited independent Special Assistance School and does not charge tuition fees. Students must also be referred to the College by other schools or recognised agencies. The College receives the majority of its funding from the Australian and Queensland Governments.
Arethusa College currently enrols more than 1,200 students and employs more than 250 full-time equivalent staff (including teachers, counsellors, education support officers, welfare workers and chaplains) across eight distinctly different south-east Queensland campuses.
The campuses and classes are small – compared to mainstream schools – averaging about 180-200 students per campus.
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