Our vision‘‘Everyone has the right to education’ and that ‘education shall be directed toward the full development of the human personality’, (Article 26, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights).
The students at Parkville College represent some of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable in the state, with most, victims of abuse, trauma or neglect. Our students are in many ways, very different, but their binding characteristic is that they have all experienced trauma, and have acted out in a way that is antisocial.
Working in unison with the Department of Human Health and Services (DHS) and the Department of Justice and Regulation (DJR), we assist our students towards developing themselves and changing their trajectory. We don’t expect individuals on leaving detention to have miraculously transformed, without showing them alternate ways of viewing the world.
Studies show that children are very likely to form an emotional attachment to familiar caregivers, when the caregivers are sensitive and responsive to the child’s communications. The formation of these secure attachments contribute to the foundation of personality and emotional development.
Most of our students have experienced attachment disorder, due to early experiences of neglect, abuse, abrupt separation, frequent changing in caregivers, or lack of caregiver response, resulting in a lack of basic trust.
Regardless of age and background, we believe students with an attachment disorder have the ability to create healthy attachments in a positive therapeutic environment. At Parkville College, we provide a nurturing and positive environment, and healthy relationships, helping our students to trust others and themselves.
Our pedagogy and teaching philosophy follow a trauma-informed approach, as we recognise the enourmous impact of trauma on the mind and body. The impact of chaotic and threatening experiences on the developing brain impairs the normal function and development of the neural system. In turn this compromises a young person’s functional capabilities and social development. Those that have experienced trauma believe the world is an unsafe place and are constantly scanning their surrounding for threats, often unable to form and maintain healthy relationships.
At Parkville College, we provide all students with engaging relationships that are positive and sustaining. While we always expect appropriate behaviour from our students, we find it beneficial to consider how their backgrounds and past experiences influence their actions.
We believe performing outreach is key to creating and sustaining positive relationships with students, especially to those who may not have experienced many positive relationships throughout their lives. At Parkville College, put simply, outreach is when a teacher spends time with a student, beyond the classroom. Our teachers connect with the important people in each student’s life, about their progress and achievements at school, which serves to provide a positive association towards education, not only for the student, but their families. As a result of performing outreach, each student begins to understand the genuine and positive care their teacher has for them, as a person.
Our approach‘Repetitive intervention with trustworthy teachers, through nurturing interactions can be the most effective reparation for maltreated and traumatised children’, (Perry, 2006).
The Parkville College therapeutic education model seeks to apply theoretical models to student development and growth. The Parkville College model draws together ideas from the Attachment Theory (Bowlby, 1958), the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (Perry, 2006), and Person-Centred Therapy theory (Rogers, 1940).
We believe ‘if you treat an individual as he is, he will remain how he is. But if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, then he will become what he ought to be and could be,’ (Johann Wolfgang Goethe).
What does it look like?
- For Parkville College teachers, the ‘Unconditional Positive Regard’ theory underpins all interactions with students. Our teachers embody this theory by consistently treating students kindly, genuinely, respectfully and with complete acceptance.
- Parkville College teachers are sensitive to every student’s emotional state; they recognise when to give space, offer choice and allow time for decision-making, with awareness and sensitivity to previous or ongoing trauma.
- Classes often commence with quiet reading or instruction, with predictable and consistent activities that encourage students to self-regulate their emotions and prepare for learning.
- Teachers seek to get to know their students on a personal level, through regular outreach and communication beyond the classroom. Our teachers also seek permission to call home, and continue to check-in with students post-release.
- Research shows the learning of students is significantly raised, when students are truly engaged. Parkville College teachers therefore, create content for students that is both engaging and educational, based on the students’ varying interests and needs.
- Parkville College follows a trauma informed practice approach; part of this practice is to model consistency for the students we teach. Consistency allows our students to feel comfortable and calm within their surroundings and the relationships they adopt within their education to be positive.
- At Parkville College, we believe in inclusive education, and that to be excluded is to be disempowered. By establishing an environment of inclusivity at Parkville College, we hope to eliminate the cycle where students have experienced exclusion due to learning disability, socioeconomic status, race or cultural background.