School where many successful for first time

WORKING in a most specialised and challenging education setting, Vicki Baczynskyj is principal of Lakemba’s Canterbury Vale, a school for secondary students with behaviour or emotional disorders.

She spoke about her school as part of the NSW Department of Education’s Every Student Podcast, an insightful series of conversations with educators who are delivering quality teaching and learning to improve opportunities for every student in their care.
Mrs Baczynskyj started off as a preschool teacher before veering into special education and she’s absolutely passionate about this work and her students.
“Our school is a place where many of our students can be successful for the first time,” she said.
With students ranging from Year 7-12, most only attend Canterbury Vale for a year before going back into their local, mainstream high school.
“It’s a place where you see lots of different things happening each and every day but you also see very passionate teachers and you see students that once they have started engaging in our program, that their behaviours change and they really try to engage in learning,” Vicki said.
“The students that come to our school present with aggressive violent behaviour or they’re oppositional, they’re non-compliant in school, they’ve had lots of histories of suspensions over and over again and this can sometimes, go right back to primary school.
“So they have a lot of trouble self-regulating, they have a lot of trouble showing empathy for either themselves, their parents or their teachers. And they’re sometimes very selfish so want their needs met straightaway.”
With small classes, Vicki has also introduced her Making Choice Framework program which teaches them to recognise the purpose of their behaviour, to take ownership of it, reflect and set goals to improve it.
Mrs Baczynskyj added: “I say to the executive of mainstream schools, pick your teachers for these kids, pick those ones that you know will give them a chance and not just think that their past has to be their future.”
The Every Student Podcast is available at