Yarra Me School opens and gets kids back on track

​The new Yarra Me School is open to support at-risk students to get back into mainstream education.

Yorta Yorta elder Uncle Ross opens the school ​with a smoking ceremony.

Following the merger of Baltara School, Baltara Special School and Royal Park Special School, Yarra Me officially opened earlier this year.

Yarra Me School is a government school that assists  students – as young as five –back into mainstream education through early intervention.

Some of these children have learning disorders, mental health issues, are on the autism spectrum, have experienced trauma, are in the Child Protection system or have other needs that put them at risk of disengaging from school.

The school provides personalised learning programs within a safe, supportive and inclusive environment.

The school's opening included consolidating two campuses into one and upgrading the existing facilities.

Building emotional skills

Principal Nancy Sidoti says Yarra Me children love the new building, which is giving them space to develop positive emotional health.

'There's a lot of thought that has gone into the design of the building in terms of classroom transition,' Ms Sidoti says.

'We have a children's toilet closer to the classroom because that minimises transition difficulties that many students experience. In each classroom, we've got an open area that we call a 'break out space' that children can use when they are unsettled or not ready to learn.'

Ms Sidoti says that the breakout spaces are painted with 'fantastic colours' and help children self-regulate, which is an important part of learning at Yarra Me.

'Yarra Me is the same (as a primary school) but due to the histories of the children or their medical diagnoses they may not have developed those cognitive and emotional skills, so we enable them to be centred and be able to self-regulate so that they're focused and can engage in the classroom,' Ms Sidoti says.

'There's a significant part of our teaching focused on the social and emotional curriculum, and emotional skills and communicating with others so they have the capacity to access the broader curriculum.'

Schools for all in the Education State

The 2016-17 State Budget allocated $415,000 to Yarra Me School. This included funding for two relocatable buildings, a newly refurbished administration area, landscaping and pavement repairs around the campus. See the Yarra Me School project on the Victorian School Buildings Authority website.

This year's budget is investing $1.25 billion to build and upgrade Victoria's schools.

Supporting specialist schools like Yarra Me is part of our target Breaking the Link, so every student is supported so they can reach their potential and stay in education for better life opportunities.