This thesis makes a contribution to knowledge about the role of education in shaping the life chances of young people through an exploration of young Victorians' experiences in flexible learning environments. The findings presented here are based on qualitative interviews with nineteen young people completing year 10 and 11 qualifications through community organisations and TAFEs. They demonstrate that, despite having experienced difficulties in the mainstream education system, young people re-engage enthusiastically with learning once they find environments that cater appropriately to their needs. Although there were many factors that contributed to this, a central consideration was giving young people the opportunity to take ownership of their own learning and, by implication, their own lives. As a result this thesis challenges the current Governmental position on flexible learning environments as a ‘last chance’ at learning. Through an approach that acknowledged young people as the experts when it comes to their own lives, it found support for the idea that these programs should be repositioned as a real opportunity. It also found that young people not only want to have a say when it comes to policy decisions that affect their lives, they have valuable ideas to contribute.