A UNIVERSITY of New England program placing social work students into schools for practical experience is so popular, schools have been put on a waiting list pending the availability of students.
The number of schools wanting to participate in the program, Social Workers in Schools, has doubled this year to 13.
Armidale High, Hillvue Public, Nambucca High and Coonamble High were some of the schools involved in the program last year, with plans to extend to Quirindi, Glen Innes, Moree and Inverell schools.
“There’s a real shortage of qualified school councillors in NSW, partly because of a lack of funding and because there is a greater need from students for the services within the school system,” program coordinator Myfanwy Maple said.
“There can be undiagnosed learning difficulties or mental health and physical impairment that can heighten the instance of at-risk students performing poorly at school or even disengaging.”
Associate Professor Maple believed the program would provide wide-reaching support beyond the school gate, including more family engagement and community partnerships. The School of Health hopes through state government funding the program can be sustained in the long-term.