Indigenous youth sign up for education

Headshot of Peter Sweeney
Peter SweeneyThe West Australian
Clontarf Academy director Karl Pirrottina.
Camera IconClontarf Academy director Karl Pirrottina. Credit: Peter Sweeney/The Geraldton Guardian, Peter Sweeney

The Geraldton Clontarf Academy will have a record number of students in 2021 — its 18th year since opening its doors to teach and inspire Indigenous youth.

About 230 pupils are expected to attend the two Clontarf campuses, at Geraldton Senior High School and Champion Bay Senior High School, next year. There were 188 enrolments this year.

Geraldton Clontarf Academy director Karl Pirrottina said the increase in numbers was due to having two campuses.

The academy started in 2004 at the then- John Willcock College.

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“We’ve been able to engage students more by doing Years 7-12 at both venues,” Mr Pirrottina said.

“When they (students) had to transition from one site to another, we sometimes had a drop off in numbers.

“Numbers are now spread evenly at both sites, which gives a better ration of staff to students, leading to engagement and retention.”

Mr Pirrottina said within a few years, up to 45 students annually were expected to graduate from the school. Nineteen students last week graduated from Year 12, and some already have work.

“Many people relate Clontarf to our football program, but it is much more than that,” he said.

“All of our academies exist to improve the education, discipline, self-esteem, life skills and employment prospects of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men.

“Our aim is for them to spend more time at school and to gain meaningful employment.

“The program is growing nationally, and recently there was the granting of extra money for the schools and 3000 new participants.

“In WA, the program will start in Newman and will also go into primary schools in Port Hedland and Karratha.”

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