Kildare and Wicklow ETB Newsletter Issue 11, PARTNERSHIPS - Page 19

From the Parent of a

Youthreach student

Where do you turn when standard secondary school education is unsuitable for your teenage son or daughter? What will their future hold if they can’t complete their Leaving Cert? How can they thrive in today’s world without secondary education?

We faced these and many other worrying questions when we had to withdraw our son Jay from secondary school. He suffers from a Chronic Migraine Condition, which means that he experiences some form of migraine most days. Secondary school for him became a nightmare of stress, isolation and falling behind - a combination that spiraled out of control until withdrawal became the only option and left us with the problem of ‘What Next?’

We tried homeschooling and while the one-to-one teaching was helpful, the social isolation for a teenager was a huge concern and we knew we needed something else. Then a friend suggested Youthreach, Leixlip.

Jay has just completed the Youthreach, Leixlip programme. It has been a life-changing experience for him - and for us. The combination of self-paced, independent learning, life skills and social skills has produced a confident, well-rounded and grounded young person who is ready to move on to the next stage of his life.

We cannot speak highly enough of the attention and care he received from the team at Youthreach, Leixlip. The dedication and professionalism of the staff, their willingness to address individual challenges and their flexible approach ensures that each young person’s needs and abilities are recognised and nurtured.

We liked the fact that class sizes are small and that students don’t have homework or study, with coursework completed during class hours. Continuous assessment meant that we did not have to deal with leaving cert exam pressure. Each student has an assigned Keyworker and for Jay, this was invaluable - providing support and mentorship along the way. Jay also completed two work placements, which gave him fantastic experience, boosted his confidence and gave him a real insight into the world of work.

At Youthreach, Leixlip, Jay has learned coping skills and developed life skills that have enabled him to move forward with his life and continue on to third level education.

I think we need to recognise that our current secondary education system is just not suitable for all young people - and can be very damaging for those who struggle with the inflexibility of a points based exam system. Youthreach, Leixlip offers these young people a positive alternative.

Fast-forward 2 years: