National innovator

St Stephen’s School has been named among the nation’s top schools in The Educator magazine’s annual Innovative Schools list, which gathers Australian educators making the most profound and exciting impacts on K-12 education.

St Stephen’s School was recognised for its unique take on regional enrolments with their new Home Away From Home (HAFH) program, launched in August.

The HAFH program offers a fresh take on conventional school boarding arrangements, placing students from regional WA in a local family environment.

The School already partners with established student accommodation provider Talkabout Homestay for their international student program, yet with the restrictions from COVID-19 putting a hold on incoming students from overseas, the opportunity to engage in a new regional initiative for families from around Western Australia came into fruition.

St Stephen’s School Principal Donella Beare said she was excited the School was being recognised as being at the cutting edge of education in Australia.

“We always strive to do things differently, to look for a new or better way – this is something we instil in our staff and students, and it is so great to see just one of our exciting programs recognised at a national level,” Mrs Beare said.

“We have started to work alongside families who want to give their children the best opportunities and have, so far, had interest from areas including the Mid-West and the Pilbara.”

“People have really taken to the idea of their children being in the comfort and support of a family home and the more affordable price than traditional boarding house arrangements.”

We currently have regional families lined up that we are working to match with a host family. If your family is interested or would like more information, contact

The HAFH program follows stringent processes to best match students with families in a home environment and conducts regular check-ins for all parties. It fosters a strong relationship between the student, their family in regional WA, the host family and the School where all become an integral part of the School community.

“We are very clear to ensure that the HAFH initiative meets strict guidelines for peace of mind and comes as close to a student’s normal family environment as possible, so they feel supported, comfortable and in the best space to reach their potential,” Mrs Beare said.

Students in the HAFH program have access to all School activities and opportunities and are guided through their Secondary schooling by the St Stephen’s School Care Team, Career Advisors and academic and vocational specialists, depending where their passion lies.

“For example, a student may want to qualify as a Heavy Diesel Mechanic or hone their business skills through Certificates in theSchool’s leading Vocational Education and Training program before returning home to help run the family farm; or another may be focused on achieving entry into one of Perth’s universities.”

“Another distinctive is the offer of a short-term trial, which may be two or four weeks, that sees the student take on all aspects of the program to see if the arrangement will work for them and their families.”

The program has opened the School to a whole new market and the HAFH team has already begun visiting regional areas to showcase interactive activities and information.

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