A NORTH Coast high school is in the process of opening an educational door that was once firmly closed to a section of the school community. In a first for the region, Nambucca Heads High is introducing an informal Parents in Education program for preg- nant students, young mothers and also young fathers. Nambucca Highs principal, Hilton Humphries, said the program, which is in its infancy, is about recognising that pregnant students and young parents need to be able to finish their educa- tion. He said these students especially needed acceptance and support, two things that Nambucca High's staff and students were providing. Mr Humphries said that because of the different needs of expectant mothers and young parents, less conventional teaching strategies and greater flexibili- ty were necessary. Some students may need to receive work in advance so they can get ahead before the delivery. Also, they may need days off due to sickness ? both their own and the child's. All of these issues are being taken into account. Mr Humphries said the school pres- ently had one 17-year-old success story doing Year 11, who was due in April of this year. Her teachers had devised a plan to help her through absences due to morn- ing sickness and other problems that will inevitably arise.
"She has been accepted and support- ed by the staff and kids," Mr Hum- phries said. "Our next step is to get more re- cruits then look to employing a co-ordi- nator, because teacher goodwill can only go so far. "The co-ordinator would take work to the student and liaise with the teach- er, supervise tests and support assign- ment work. "At present we have a school willing to have a go, community groups willing to organise transport and baby sitting arrangements, and groups willing to add moral and in-kind support." Mr Humphries said that in formulat- ing Parents in Education, he sought ad- vice from Sydney's Plumpton High, which runs a successful program for young mothers. However, he was not planning to model the Nambucca High initiative di- rectly on Plumpton's. "I consider what we are doing to be more having an acceptance of pregnant and young mums coming to school," he said. "If there is a big enough demand from the region we will apply for a co- ordinator and then we will have a pro- gram running." The Nambucca High project is being supported by the Mid North Coast Divi- sion of General Practice.
Students and parents wanting further in- formation on the 'Parents in Education' program should contact the school on 6568 6777.