Keeping Kids Engaged in School

The social cost of a young person leaving school early is $616,000 over their lifetime.

NB: Leigh Sinclair is now in the role of Executive Officer of Imagined Futures. Judy Walls served as Executive Director from 2017–19, during the period when this video was filmed.
The Imagined Futures Youth Initiative is auspiced by St Patrick’s Community Support Centre and funded by Lotterywest.

The Issue

Studies have found that young people who leave school early are at greater risk of experiencing long term unemployment, which can lead to many other risk factors including social exclusion, welfare dependence, reduced life satisfaction and mental health problems.

The Approach

The Keeping Kids Engaged in School project works to increase school attendance and supports families to prioritise education. A working group of organisations oversee and deliver different aspects of the program, which builds resilience in children at primary school and provides support in their transition to secondary school.

The program also engages young people in community activities such as sport and art. We support families to overcome complex issues that may be inhibiting their prioritisation of education, and help to reintegrate young people who are already disengaged from education or training.

Our Impact

Attendance

92% average attendance for participating students from 2 primary schools.

Resilience

Strong improvements for emotional and social resilience, with primary schoolers reporting 30% less peer problems and 27% less emotional problems.

Confidence

High School students self reported increases in leadership skills and public speaking.

Future Goals

We are continuing to build on the success of the project’s first few years and are seeking to work beyond the planning and implementation of strategies. The project is working to identify the root causes of why students are becoming disengaged in the first place.

Our future ambitions include:

  • Expanding the program and its resources, making it available to more students in currently-participating schools, as well as to new schools

  • Undertaking qualitative research to supplement the currently limited knowledge base on factors influencing disengagement from school

  • Documenting the model so that other regions can replicate the project.