Wil­let­ton SHS: VET Path­ways for Stu­dents

There is a fresh ap­proach to vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing in Aus­tralia

The Australian Education Reporter - - CONTENTS - LIONEL CRANENBURGH

VET train­ers and teach­ers across Aus­tralia claim that the neg­a­tive im­age VET had as a choice for non-aca­demic stu­dents has been trans­formed, with new op­por­tu­ni­ties for males and fe­males to ex­cel on a na­tional or world stage.

A fresh ap­proach was taken on Jan­uary 1 this year, with Min­is­ter for Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing Si­mon Birm­ing­ham stat­ing that the Turn­bull Gov­ern­ment’s new VET stu­dent loans pro­gram pro­tected stu­dents and re­stored the rep­u­ta­tion of vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion.

“It was clear that a com­pletely new pro­gram is es­sen­tial to weed out the rorters and re­store cred­i­bil­ity to VET,” Mr Birm­ing­ham said.

“There is a need for providers to go through a rig­or­ous ap­pli­ca­tion process, ex­ten­sive mon­i­tor­ing and eval­u­a­tion to en­sure that they are de­liv­er­ing ed­u­ca­tion that stu­dents and em­ploy­ers value.”

VET co­or­di­na­tor Sue Hol­land, from Wil­let­ton se­nior high school in WA, said that she and other teach­ers con­ducted de­tailed re­search into recog­nised train­ing providers, us­ing schools’ net­works and ex­am­in­ing hard ev­i­dence to pro­tect stu­dents.

“VET was seen as an al­ter­na­tive pro­gram for stu­dents that were dis­en­gaged or not achiev­ing, but we have stu­dents in our cour­ses that are high achiev­ers,” Ms Hol­land said.

One of the school’s high­est achiev­ers for 2017 was Mia All­sop who com­pleted a pre-ap­pren­tice­ship in elec­tri­cal in 2016 and was com­plet­ing a pre-ap­pren­tice­ship in plumb­ing this year.

Ms Hol­land said that girls were chal­leng­ing stereo­types of what they could do, with six of the school’s awards in VET go­ing to girls and two to boys in cour­ses that were tra­di­tion­ally for boys.

She said that the school of­fered flex­i­ble learn­ing pro­grams that were a hy­brid of in-school and off-cam­pus pro­grams, while other qual­i­fi­ca­tions could be stud­ied at school and catered for dif­fer­ent ca­reer goals.

In 2017, about 416 stu­dents en­rolled in some form of VET pro­gram, with about 52 per­cent of stu­dents studying at least one VET course in years 11 and 12.

“A fair pro­por­tion of ter­tiary-bound stu­dents see VET as a pro­gram that they can study and ap­ply it in an in­ter­est-based field after school,” Ms Hol­land said.

She found grow­ing in­ter­est in staff at Wil­let­ton se­nior high school to take VET qual­i­fi­ca­tions, with 44 staff hav­ing cer­tifi­cate iv qual­i­fi­ca­tions rep­re­sent­ing about 25 per cent of the staff. About 25 staff de­liv­ered vo­ca­tional pro­grams in 2017.

“All our staff must demon­strate vo­ca­tional cur­rency and re­cent in­dus­try ex­pe­ri­ence,” Ms Hol­land said.

She said that her staff at­tended train­ing in in­dus­try place­ment (TIP) pro­grams that were short, in­ten­sive cour­ses where they gained on-the-job train­ing.

One of her staff had ex­pe­ri­ence in hos­pi­tal­ity as a chef, while oth­ers worked in in­dus­try over week­ends.

Stu­dents con­tin­u­ally dis­tin­guish them­selves by be­ing in­vited to ap­ply for ap­pren­tice­ships, were of­fered po­si­tions in min­ing as high achiev­ers or re­turned for a ‘sec­ond chance’ to re­ceive train­ing.

“Stu­dents find that if they do a cer­tifi­cate ii in sport and re­cre­ation, they can gain en­try into TAFE to do a cer­tifi­cate iv in the same in­dus­try area as part of a tran­si­tion path­way,” she said.

Op­por­tu­ni­ties for stu­dents to show­case their tal­ents is ev­i­dent from the World­skills Aus­tralia pro­gram. Skills com­pe­ti­tions are run in 34 dif­fer­ent re­gions na­tion­ally across

60 trade and skills ar­eas with over 1000 ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tutes, in­dus­try and em­ployer groups par­tic­i­pat­ing, ac­cord­ing to a press state­ment from World­skills rep­re­sen­ta­tive Emma Clark.

The Vic­to­rian Gov­ern­ment sup­ported the 2016 na­tional com­pe­ti­tion or­gan­ised by World­skills, with 27 medals won by WA and 23 by Vic­to­ria from 155 medal­lists, with schools par­tic­i­pat­ing on a na­tional ba­sis.

From the na­tional com­pe­ti­tion the skills squad was cre­ated to com­pete for the 2017 Skil­la­roos, which would rep­re­sent Aus­tralia at the 2017 World­skills in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion to be held in Abu Dhabi in Oc­to­ber 2017.

Skills squad mem­ber Nick John­son, a cabi­net maker from WA and mem­ber of the

21 mem­ber skills squad, said he en­cour­aged more young peo­ple into lear ning a trade.

“You get to learn while you work and also earn some money if you get an ap­pren­tice­ship,” he said.

The Vic­to­rian State Gov­ern­ment web­site for ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing states that the State Gov­ern­ment has en­gaged the VET de­vel­op­ment cen­tre to hold a se­ries of cour­ses for Gov­ern­ment school teach­ers that are in­dus­try themed, im­mer­sion or struc­tured work­place fo­rums.

The web­site for ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing has in­for­ma­tion for school lead­ers to use the e5 in­struc­tional model to de­velop a deeper un­der­stand­ing of what con­sti­tutes high qual­ity teach­ing prac­tice.

How­ever, Ms Hol­land said that the fo­cus on na­tional qual­ity stan­dards of teach­ers was a good guide but that she did not ad­vo­cate any par­tic­u­lar strat­egy.

Nick John­son Cabi­net­mak­ing Skil­la­roo.

Wil­let­ton SHS VET co­or­di­na­tor Sue Hol­land.

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