Atiya rediscovers her love of learning

We catch up with a spirited 16-year-old from Northern NSW who is finishing her schooling at TAFE thanks to an EPPP initiative.

24 August 2020
Image: Atiya Paron-Clarke working on a Certificate III in Pathways to Further Studies

Atiya Paron-Clarke had a tough time at high school. For various reasons, things just weren’t clicking, despite her evident potential and her clear interest in English and History. Fortunately for Atiya, the new principal at Mullumbimby High School introduced her to the EPPP initiative, Wrap around support for early school leavers (under 17 years old).

“He pulled me into his office and said, ‘You’re not going to pass if you keep going the way you are,’” recalls Atiya.

It was true enough. By Year 10, Atiya was hardly bothering to show up at school. But the EPPP initiative represented a lifeline for the student with designs on tertiary study.

A year on from that crucial conversation with her principal, Atiya has settled in nicely to Murwillumbah TAFE where she’s enrolled in the Pathways to Further Studies (10767NAT) course studying Australian Societies, Biology and Maths. From there, Atiya hopes to complete the Certificate IV in Tertiary Preparation before going on to pursue her passion at university.

“I’ve always loved writing,” says Atiya when we catch her between classes one afternoon. “I’d love to do a communications and journalism degree at Melbourne University.”

For now, Atiya is enjoying the flexibility offered by TAFE as well as the camaraderie of her peers and teachers. “Everyone is really lovely and caring,” says Atiya of her TAFE cohort, which includes her new bestie and a bunch of other people who had similar experiences at school.

“The support has also been amazingly good,” says Atiya.

Atiya, who moved out of home at the end of 2019 and lives independently, received a laptop and internet access to help address her barriers to learning. “It was the biggest help!” The aspiring journalist also has access to a range of support tutorials covering everything from study skills to numeracy, should she ever need them.

But perhaps the biggest factor in rekindling Atiya’s thirst for knowledge has been the change of scene. The different approach to leaning at TAFE has clearly struck a chord with the student who wasn’t engaged at school. For the first time in a long time, Atiya is excited by the idea of learning. Even her biology class, which Atiya didn’t think she’d enjoy, is proving to be really interesting.

All told, the last 12 months have seen a remarkable turnaround in Atiya’s life and we can’t wait to see what she does next.

For more information about the Wrap around support for early school leavers (under 17 years old) initiative, please talk to your school’s Careers Adviser or Head Teacher – Careers.

  • Student engagement and participation
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