Beyond the Bell is taking a broader regional outlook as it seeks to improve the engagement of children and young people as they emerge from COVID-19 lockdowns.
The community-led initiative committed to ensuring children and young people in the Great South Coast are supported and inspired to achieve their full potential has released a new three-year strategic plan that refines its vision and seeks to make region-wide impact.
Executive officer Kate Roache said the plan focused on social and emotional wellbeing, engagement in learning, and supporting disadvantaged children and young people.
While Beyond the Bell will continue to work with communities across each of its six local government areas, Ms Roache said the organisation was now taking a “less is more” outlook.
“Previously we had a number of projects in our local government areas that were beneficial to the community on a small scale; now we’re starting to think regionally and look at projects that will add value and impact across the region and within communities,” she said.
“We’ve refined our focus while aiming to scale-out to make an impact across the entire region.”
Ms Roache said COVID-19 had impacted on the work of Beyond the Bell and on children and young people’s engagement.
“COVID has impacted on engagement and learning. We hear across the region that a lot of younger people are struggling to get back into school routines and some are looking for different options to mainstream schooling,” she said.
These challenges have influenced the new strategic plan and its strengthened focus on taking a whole of community approach to helping families and children to get engaged.
“Our aim is to ensure all children and young people are connected to and engaged with education and to do that it is important that we firstly address their social and emotional wellbeing,” Ms Roache said. “Students won’t be able to engage if they are experiencing social and emotional challenges.”
“As an organisation and community, we need to understand what is happening for our vulnerable children and young people and have a call to action to support them to be engaged in education.”
Board member Alistair McCosh said the new strategy was aligned with ensuring Beyond the Bell clearly focused on achieving its vision of increasing the educational attainment rates of young people across the south west region.
“We needed to become more strategic in what we focused on,” Mr McCosh said. “It is important we don’t duplicate services but identify where we can make a difference such as transition between pre-school and school and from school to university or post-secondary education.”
The new 2021-2023 strategy can be accessed via the Beyond the Bell website: btb.org.au
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