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Innovative, creative ways of learning hold the key to motivating young people who have lost interest in the formal education and training system.

Links to Learning is a program within the NSW Department of Education and Training that provides funding to community-based organisations to undertake projects for marginalised or at-risk young people. Links to Learning include the Helping Early Leavers Program (HELP), Circuit Breaker, Time Out and Koori Youth programs.

Links to Learning projects aim to improve the literacy, numeracy and social skills of young people in the target group. The community setting of the projects takes learning away from the classroom and places it in a context that is meaningful to the target group.

In 1998/99 the Minister for Education and Training funded a number of strategic pilot projects that addressed the core aims of Links to Learning with the additional objective of exploring new approaches to the outreach and bridging activities that enhance HELP, Time Out, Circuit Breaker and Koori Youth programs.

The scope of the initiatives was broad. Arts-based strategies were prominent, there were innovative approaches to assessment and ambitious one-on-one mentoring projects. The young people who took part included early-school leavers, the unemployed, juvenile offenders and young Aboriginal people. They came from urban, regional and rural areas of NSW.

Without exception, the funded organisations were committed to testing new ways of generating and developing an interest in learning. Remarkable outcomes were achieved, as the accounts in Success Stories show.

The strategic pilot projects bring NSW Government policy to life. In these stories we see community groups working hand-in-hand with schools and the vocational education and training sector to find ways to reconnect young people with learning.

Christine Ellis
Youth Assistance Strategies Section
NSW Department of Education and Training

© NSW Department of Education and Training
December 1999

For further information:

Youth Assistance Strategies Section
NSW Department of Education and Training, Locked Bag 53, Darlinghurst NSW 2010

Tel: 02 9266 8488 Fax: 02 9266 8058
Web site:

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