When winning is a vocation

NSW public school VET teachers and students have been honoured at the State’s top training awards.

13 October 2020
A woman and two students stand behind a coffee machine.
Image: Megan Renwick and students prepare for a customer rush @thecaffeinelab.

Education NSW students and educators have been showcased in the Training NSW Awards winning four categories.

Winmalee High School hospitality teacher Megan Renwick said today she was “overwhelmed” to have been named VET Trainer/Teacher of the Year.

Ms Renwick, who will now advance as a finalist in the national titles, helped establish a student-led business at the school in 2015 known as @thecaffeinelab.

The innovative scheme saw hospitality enrolments at the school grow in one year from 41 to 149 students.

At its peak, the school was offering eight hospitality classes and in one year students secured 1st and 4th in the state for their HSC Hospitality Method.

Ms Renwick said many schools feared the risk and possible failure in starting a business in a school environment.

“I came from the philosophy that nothing is ever a failure, it’s a learning experience,” she said.

Ms Renwick said being “business owners” had a positive impact on student engagement.

“When they own a café, students’ whole attitude to learning changes because they want it to succeed, and they want to beat last week’s takings,” she said.

@thecaffeinelab had become a key part of the school’s culture and was considered “a place where everyone sits together”.

“Our policy is that everyone is equal,” she said. “So, whether you are the principal or in Year 7 you have to line up and everyone has the same rights.”

Other winners at the Training NSW Awards night included Public Schools NSW, Tamworth, which is one of the largest school system registered training organisations (RTO), awarded Training Provider of the Year.

Tamworth RTO enrols 8,700 learners from Years 10 to 12 across 31 qualifications, offering entry-level qualifications and school-based apprenticeships and traineeships (SBATs) that are paired with the HSC.

Due to its vast geographic footprint, Public Schools NSW, Tamworth takes an innovative approach to training. Every student receives work readiness training and is supported by a career and transition team.

Acting Deputy Secretary, School Performance North Cathy Brennan congratulated all the winners on their success.

She said Ms Renwick was a great example of the “professionalism and dedication” that was widespread among school teachers.

“It is terrific that her talents are being used to further develop the skills of other hospitality teachers,” she said.

Ms Brennan said the range and number of qualifications provided by Public Schools NSW Tamworth was “remarkable”.

“Congratulations to all the teachers, support staff and administrators involved with this remarkable achievement,” she said.

Tuggerah Lakes Secondary College, The Entrance Campus student Peyton Bennet won the 2020 VET in Schools Student of the Year, while Bomaderry High School captain Cassandra O'Carroll was the 2020 School Based Apprentice/Trainee of the Year.

The NSW Training Award winners will now represent the state at the Australian Training Awards to be broadcast as a virtual event on Friday, 20 November 2020.

A full list of the winners is available from Training Services NSW.

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