Oakwood School


About this project

Oakwood School is a multi-campus Victorian government school which works with young people aged 10-18 who are vulnerable and who have become disengaged from mainstream education.

Re-engaging young people in learning

The reasons that young people leave school are often multi-faceted, but include factors such as experiences of complex trauma, bullying, behavioural issues, debilitating anxiety and mental health issues. Disengagement from education is linked to long-term negative effects on young people's wellbeing and life opportunities.

Oakwood School's overarching purpose is to re-engage young people in learning and set them on a positive pathway to their future. Oakwood School operates across 10 sites in Melbourne's South and South-East and has substantial enrolments from the Aboriginal community in the region.

Comprehensive evaluation

Using a collaborative approach, Lirata completed a comprehensive evaluation of Oakwood School’s model and operations. The methodology gathered and synthesised data from a wide range of sources including student, parent and external stakeholder surveys; interviews with students, staff and leadership; focus groups with staff, parents and school council; site visits including classroom observations and student led school tours; quantitative analysis of student intake, exit and pathways data, teacher assessments, student test data, and student strengths and difficulties questionnaires; and desktop review of school policies, documentation and student-led conference reports.


The evaluation rigorously assessed the school’s impact across four key areas: re-engagement with education; achievement in learning; building positive pathways to the future; and student wellbeing. In each area, there was strong evidence of positive outcomes.

The evaluation also identified 6 areas of exemplary practice in Oakwood School’s model:

  • Trauma informed practice
  • Case management approach
  • Fostering of high quality relationships
  • Student intake and induction process
  • Personalised learning
  • Staff professional learning and organisational reflection.

The sophistication and comprehensiveness of Oakwood School’s implementation of these approaches offers useful lessons for mainstream and flexible learning providers alike.

Where to next?

In addition to articulating key elements of the school’s model, the evaluation provided a strong set of recommendations which the school has used to further strengthen its approach to learning and wellbeing for young people.

Oakwood School’s implementation of these approaches offers useful lessons for mainstream and flexible learning providers alike.

Further information

Download Summary Evaluation Report

Specialist focus




Education and training

Population groups

Young people

Project team

Project Lead

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