Built in the 1960s, the school is giving students a ‘second chance’ through what it describes as a “multi-opportunity” campus.
It has a multi-cultural, multi-age cohort of between 600-650 students in the final two years of schooling ranging from 16-25 years and much older.
Its Intensive English Centre welcomes newly arrived migrant or refugee students from Burma, China, Afghanistan, and Ethiopia.
It presents masterclass programs for English as a Second Language and Dialect to over 200 teachers as a Teacher Development Centre.
About 90 percent of its students graduate into mainstream classes.
The school board is passionate to be seen as a ‘campus of opportunity’ with teachers offering new approaches so that students can gain employment and contribute to their community.
Principal, Karen Woods, a former student of Cyril Jackson, glows with pride as she said her return to her alma mater motivated her to take on challenges and make a difference while showing care.
“I wanted our students, some of who don’t fit into other school environments, to achieve their dreams, be part of the community and give back to it,” she said.
Woods said that her dedicated team of teachers aimed to achieve academic excellence while working with the community.
Cyril Jackson Senior Campus was the first school in WA to offer Certificate III in Live Production from 2016 and the only public school offering an Adobe Associate Course.
Its driving force of building strong relationships with the community led to developing an Arts House precinct, Recreation Centre, artists-in-residence and flexible timetable that allows part-time attendance so parents can pursue courses leading to university.
Its iLearn flexible off-campus delivery is very popular with students in Years 11 and 12 that work from home, home schoolers and students from schools that can’t provide specific courses.
Cath MacDougall, home economics teacher, is leading the charge to bring curriculum, community and culture centre stage, through a bushtucker section that is part of a community garden.
She worked with the environment committee, local Noongar community and students to design the bushtucker garden. It used local WA soils where the fresh scent of lemon myrtle floats on the breeze.
“We worked with Noongar elders and students to research soils and learn about the local area, making mathematics, literacy and the Australian Curriculum part of our activities,” MacDougall says.
She introduced the complex flavours of Indigenous food as part of the Australian Curriculum, giving the public a taste of Indigenous cuisine and culture at the 2012 NAIDOC “Outback Café” celebrations in Bassendean.
When students from nearby Governor Stirling Senior High School re-located temporarily to Cyril Jackson four years ago, teachers from both schools wondered how to motivate those who might feel displaced.
“We engaged local Noongar elders to work with students, designing art and weather-proofing it,” she says.
The result was a striking mural with Aboriginal colours depicting the six Indigenous seasons, Wagyl, a snake-like creature from Noongar Dreamtime and Australian megafauna overlooking the bushtucker and community gardens.
A few metres from the garden is a purpose-built outdoor kitchen where students cook the food they grow.
“We get students to practice healthy eating as part of getting a Certificate II in Hospitality,” MacDougall says.
Opposite the bushtucker garden is an amphitheatre that comes alive with the sound of drama classes, students having lunch or silent contemplation in meditation classes.
The school’s building and construction students look on it as their legacy having designed and built it with guidance from industry professionals.
MacDougall held a “dinner under the stars” for the community and the unique amphitheatre concept, nestling close to ancient culture, attracted several important visitors, including the Minister for Education and Indigenous Affairs WA, Peter Collier and Director-General of Education, Sharyn O’Neill.
A most impressive project where the campus reaches out to its WA community in need is 5000 Meals, started by MacDougall.
The seed of an idea grew into a major WA project, where 30 primary and secondary schools used surplus produce to cook meals for those in need.
WA schools use recipes developed by chefs, label the packages professionally and distribute them through food agencies.
Cyril Jackson students prepare about 1000 meals a year with schools producing 25000 meals in three years.
“It gives students a sense of helping our community in need,” MacDougall said.
In this case, food goes where words won’t.