Maleny Flexi School started in 2002 and has steadily grown to a size where it now supports more than 30 students, who engage in different aspects of vocational development training along with the basic subjects of English and Maths.
For the Flexi School's teacher in charge, Joanna Rickards, there is a focus on removing the negativity around students trying to gain meaningful employment in the Hinterland. She says many of the students feel that they need to move away to the cities to get a job, a trend which Jo says takes one of our most valuable resources - our youth - away from the Hinterland. Both the Flexi School and Maleny High School work to foster connections across the Hinterland to enable students to gain guidance for their chosen career paths and help them stay in the region.
While Maleny Flexi School is runs as a separate school, it is closely aligned with Maleny High. Jo says in her experience, the Maleny High School is one of the most functional mainstream high schools she has known. Maleny High's link with the Maleny Flexi School is positive, enabling students an alternative to mainstream teaching.
The students of Maleny Flexi School feel they belong. It is a place where they can complete their studies at their own pace and engage in activities that will assist them in vocational development. For example, some students have recently undertaken a barista course which was subsidised by Barung Landcare and the Maleny Chamber of Commerce. Anna and Kyle are two students who are enthusiastic about the new skills they have gained through the course and the possibility of gaining employment in hospitality as baristas.
For some students the smaller school community at Flexi, is a lot less daunting than the larger high school community. For softly spoken Chantel, the Flexi school has helped her to gain confidence and she says "it's a lot easier here as everyone sticks together in their groups and don't really bug each other." For Reegan the flexibility of the school works for him as he finds it to be, "a lot less stressful" being able to learn at his own pace. Another student, Billy says it's "a lot more fun than high school, and we get to do fun things."
Jo invites the community to engage with Maleny Flexi School to support the young people and build career aspirations. Jo calls on creative people, with skills and connections to volunteer as mentors. Of course trades people willing to take on apprentices or provide work experience are extreemly welcome. Maleny Flexi School can be contacted at email@example.com or 5429 6958.