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Founder vows to resurrect school

Tuesday, 20th May, 2014

Trainee teacher Vicki Staker (left) and Gabrielle McIntosh in front of the Centre for Community in Beryl Street. Trainee teacher Vicki Staker (left) and Gabrielle McIntosh in front of the Centre for Community in Beryl Street.

By Andrew Robertson

The founder of a youth college that closed here last month has vowed to re-open the alternative school.

Gabrielle McIntosh said the closure of Broken Hill Youth College was “completely unnecessary”. 

Ms McIntosh opened the college six years ago to cater to high school students who had dropped out of the mainstream education system.

Its more relaxed approach to education extended to students attending four days a week and not sitting exams.

Up to 30 students were enrolled at the college which operated as a campus of Sydney’s Blacktown Youth College, which Ms McIntosh also founded.

But last month Sydney headquarters closed it after declining numbers no longer made it viable to run.

“You should not have lost that school,” Ms McIntosh said.

“The people out here were trying to do their best but were not getting assistance from Sydney.”

Now she has returned to re-open the college she says is desperately needed in Broken Hill, and has already secured staff and a handful of students.

She is in the process of registering the school - to be known as the Eagle Arts and Vocational College - so it will have access to recurrent government funding.

In the meantime Ms McIntosh and her band of volunteer teachers and staff are operating out of a room in the Centre for Community in Beryl Street.

She said Broken Hill lacked a place for children who were not coping in the school environment and may have learning or behaviour issues, or both. 

A place where they could learn at their own pace “in a relaxed environment”.

The new college will accept Year 5 and 6 primary school age students, according to Ms McIntosh, along with high school age student up to Year 11.

There’s plans to operate a bus service to pick up students unable to get to class, and Ms McIntosh also wants to bring students in from Menindee.

A permanent home is also on the to-do list.

Ms McIntosh is happy to pay modest rent for a place with at least two rooms, a kitchen and toilet and large back yard, and isn’t on a main road.

She can be contacted on 0455 195 920.

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