An Ignatius Learning Centre student works on their carpentry project.

Christian* is a student at the Ignatius Learning Centre. For the first time in his life, he now looks forward to school every day.

“I didn’t like any teachers at my old school, but I don’t mind some of the teachers here, so that’s good and it’s cool. They know how to approach kids, it’s very different to the schools I’ve gone to before.

It’s more personalised here than a normal school, so I have my own goals separate to other kids, and they work with you to help you reach them.


Student at our Ignatius Learning Centre

Established in 2021, Jesuit Social Services’ Ignatius Learning Centre is a Catholic Specialist Secondary School for boys aged 15 to 17 in contact with the justice system. The school provides a therapeutic learning environment, drawing on our Jesuit heritage that encourages life-long learning. Many students had previously given up on school or had associated education with negative experiences. The school’s curriculum includes literacy, numeracy, work-related skills, industry skills, personal development skills, and Vocational Education and Training (VET) skills.

Students also connect with other Jesuit Social Services programs such as Jesuit Community College, the Ecological Justice Hub, and The Outdoor Experience. Work experience is also included in students’ curriculum. Christian came to the school two years ago. He explains that as well as developing positive relationships with staff and students, he has gained practical skills and found support to connect with positive pathways beyond the classroom.

“They helped me to get certificates like my white card, and I’m about to start my TAFE course, so it’s been really good. My favourite classes are gym and carpentry. I’ve been building a desk for my house, I’ve done the plans at the moment. It’s really cool”.

Ignatius Learning Centre Principal, John Andrew, engaged with Christian over the past eight months, slowly building the momentum that led to him regularly attending school. “It was just consistent, and it was not anything we actually offered him but more the relationship we built slowly over that time that got him there,” John says.

“He had his ups and downs in his time here, but he was really focused on getting his apprenticeship. For us, we kept following up with him and giving him unconditional encouragement.”

Christian’s story reflects the values that John feels are key to the success of the Ignatius Learning Centre over the past three years.

Our focus is on building relationships with students so they feel really connected here. The other part of it is around their agency, allowing them to have control and voice over their next move rather than us telling them.

John Andrew

Principal, Ignatius Learning Centre

The Ignatius Learning Centre is proving that there are alternatives to detention for young people who are heading in a dangerous direction. Christian’s journey at the school shows what is possible with the right support, understanding and guidance.

* We’ve changed Christian’s name to protect his identity.