Success for Erica Prosser’s students is measured not in exam results but in finding the confidence to figure out a life plan and start working towards it.

Across two sites in far north Queensland, Holy Spirit College offers “a second or often last chance at education,” for young people whose lives are affected by trauma, violence, drug use or mental health issues, says Erica, its founding Principal.

With a focus on building literacy and numeracy skills, staff program around young people’s interests and aspirations, teaching flexibly across multi-age groups. An essential part of every day is “circle up”, where all young people and staff – including the cook, cleaners and administrators – come together to share hopes and concerns and figure out how to structure the next learning projects.

Families attest to the remarkable difference in their young people’s lives. Recent triumphs include a young man who overcame homelessness and is now an apprentice mechanic, and a young woman with crippling anxiety who has been able to take up a work placement in a childcare centre.