This paper maps the policy shifts around the education and training of youth that frame how schools respond to issues of youth' at risk'. These shifts have occurred with the move from the self managing schools marked by market discourses of competition, autonomy and image management that supplanted earlier discourses of welfare and community, through to recent policies in Victoria arising from the Kirby Review of Post compulsory Education and Public Education, the Next Generation undertaken by the Labor government. These reports, and the policies emerging out of them, are producing new discourses about youth and schooling focusing on wellbeing, learning networks and more systemic support for schools at the same time as there is increased accountability and expectations of schools. Drawing on the school exclusion literature from the U.K, and using Bourdieu's notion of habitus, we examine the findings from a recent study undertaken on the Geelong Pathways Planning project, funded through a Victorian government strategy, to discuss how schools respond to such initiatives. The project explored the ways in which students in the Geelong region understood and worked with the job planning pathways program, and how service providers (schools, community education facilities, job networks etc) coordinated to meet the needs of individual youth. There was a disjuncture in the participating schools between the discourses of care and welfare for students at risk, and the actual practices and policies that ignored or excluded such students. This paper concludes with a discussion of what might be required systemically, in schools and in their relations to other education providers, to build the capacity to respond more effectively to all students.