John Fitzgerald started the Toogoolawa schools when he was 26 years old, and the JLF group currently dedicates over $800,000 per annum to the cause. The Schools are an alternative provider of education for boys aged 9-14 years who have dropped out of, or are no longer welcome in, mainstream schooling.
The Toogoolawa model is unique to the Schools and has been designed to revolve around the five universal Human Values of Truth, Love, Peace, Right Conduct and Non-violence. The practice of 'mindfulness meditation' is central to the functioning of all Toogoolawa Schools.
In the eleven years of Toogoolawa's operations, over 350 students have gone through the Schools. Of these, about one third of the boys have integrated back into mainstream schooling. Others enter traineeships or TAFE courses. Around 85% of the students leave Toogoolawa and take on some form of work or study.
There are three Toogoolawa Schools in Australia - in Ormeau (QLD), Wickham (NSW) and Hastings (VIC). The Toogoolawa Schools are inter-denominational and spiritually inclined. The Schools are for boys in their late primary and early years of secondary education who who have dropped out of, or are no longer welcome in, mainstream schooling.