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New Special School To Give Teens A Chance

MEDIA RELEASE EMBARGOED UNTIL 6PM 3 NOVEMBER 1999

Education Minister Nick Smith today announced the establishment of Felix Donnelly College as a new state special school, at Tuakau, south of Auckland. The school will provide full residential care, counselling and educational programmes for up to thirty-five young people who have significant emotional, social and learning problems.

"We must ensure that all young New Zealanders, including those who simply don't fit into the traditional classroom environment, have access to a quality education. This initiative will give these young people a coordinated programme addressing their educational needs and the complex personal issues that they have experienced in their lives. This will give them a chance to turn their lives around and make a real contribution to the community."

Government's $1.3 million investment in Felix Donnelly College replaces a special education unit previously located in Epsom called The Glade, which was administered by the Youthlink Family Trust and received referrals from agencies throughout New Zealand. For several years, the unit has been attached to Selwyn College for staffing and funding purposes. The Youthlink Family Trust will continue to provide residential services for the young people under their care in collaboration with the new school. The establishment of the College has received strong support from the Department of Social Welfare.

"This unit has an outstanding record of helping students to address complex personal issues in their lives and to gain a sense of self worth. Its establishment is a new feature of the Government's Special Education 2000 programme for students with severe behaviour problems. There will now be a much better administrative framework for the school, so it can provide much-needed support for young people who are at serious risk."

The name of the new college recognises of the work of Dr Felix Donnelly, well known for his work with young people at risk. Felix Donnelly College will open on 1 February 2000.

"I commend the work of Felix Donnelly and the Youthlink Family Trust. Their work is making a real difference to the lives of young people. This is a great example of Strengthening Families in action, with education and welfare working together to achieve the best possible results for these young people. Government is committed to breaking the cycle and to supporting community initiatives that will get real results." ENDS


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