REAL AUSTRALIA

Voice of Real Australia: When education equals understanding and opportunity

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Shannon Trapman, with children Chase, 7, Allirah, 5 and Cru,z 1, plus family dog Kaos, said she "wanted to prove everyone wrong". Photo: Marina Neil

Shannon Trapman, with children Chase, 7, Allirah, 5 and Cru,z 1, plus family dog Kaos, said she "wanted to prove everyone wrong". Photo: Marina Neil

Great family portrait, eh? It is, without a doubt. It is also so much more than that.

Award-winning Newcastle Herald photographer Marina Neil has captured the quiet determination of Shannon Trapman with her young family. The fact the very imposing dog is called Kaos shouldn't be overlooked either.

Shannon, then 15, stayed at school right up until a week before Chase, now seven, was born. Six months later she resumed that education - in a non-traditional environment at an accredited special assistance school for young mums and dads.

St Philip's Christian College DALE Young Parents School set Shannon on the path not just to adulthood but to independence, safety and self-worth.

"I just wanted to study as much as I could, I did not want to be doing nothing - I wanted to set a good example for my son."

And so she did. Shannon has moved on from domestic violence, earned her HSC while raising two kids and now is working as a mental health support worker.

You can read more about Shannon's experience and all the school offered her, as a Newcastle Herald subscriber, here.

The educational experience in regional Australia has long been more than a two-dimensional prism.

On the Mid North Coast of NSW, The Nature School at Port Macquarie received the green light from authorities back in 2017. It continues to grow.

Then there's Aspect Hunter School, the first autism-specific school in the NSW Hunter region which offers hope and opportunities not to just to students but their families, too.

In Western Australia there's Port School in Fremantle. The official blurb is that it's a "secular co-educational day school for students at risk of disengaging with education, enrolling Years 8 to 12".

Its website, which trumpets the facility's 25th anniversary, says it's "providing a real alternative for adolescents who need a different kind of school".

Difference, sometimes celebrated, often criticised. Let's be grateful it's at least available.

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