Flexi schools are messy schools. Messy from the graffiti that graces our walls, to the goo that we make for science experiments and the paint drips that colour the art room floor. If school was a colouring-in book, St Joseph’s FLC would be outside the lines every time.
When young people join a flexi, learning might look different to anything they’ve experienced before. Learning can happens when you play the piano outdoors, do tie-dye, make stencil art to decorate our basketball court, go camping or snorkelling.
Sometimes even our staff are caught by surprise. Sometimes staff are greeted in the morning by an unexpected sight; a young person waiting on the school steps or asleep in the under croft. Sometimes this is because the young person has had a rough night, other times because they are keen to be the first in to breakfast or the gym; the first to re-enrol, record a song or arrive first for an excursion.
Funded by Creative Victoria, In Case Of… has given our young people the opportunity to learn through creativity. They created emotional wellbeing kits, to consider personal and community safety through an artistic lens for today and for the future. Lived experiences of sleeping rough or seeking asylum have meant that our young people have a lot to offer in articulating the emotional needs and keeping safe.
In Case Of… has enabled artist in residence Kate Sulan and our art teacher Justin Olmstead to create a safe context in which young people could explore tools and ideas for feeling safe and for wellbeing. Students have thrived within the long-term structure of the project, gaining confidence in their art-making practice with each new activity and showing increased willingness to explore their emotional needs during regular lively discussions.
The wide variety of art-making activities offered has also catered to the diversity of talents within each class group, and provided a multitude of opportunities for students of all learning styles to express their personal flair and feel connected to the project.
We are truly grateful to Kate and to the Arts House team for their enthusiasm, professionalism and creativity in working with vulnerable young people at our school.
We hope the installation at Refuge gives insight into the wonderful variety of ways that our young people learn and express emotional safety, each contributing to the glorious mess that is our flexi school community.