Collaboration championed at inaugural Educational Pathways Program conference

For the team working with schools to deliver the Educational Pathways Program, the first week of November meant travelling to the 105 Phillip Street office in Parramatta to take part in the 2022 'Look.Forward' Conference.

The two-day conference allowed more than 125 Head Teacher Careers, SBAT Engagement Officers and School Administrative Officers to celebrate wins and discuss solutions to challenges with members of the executive and program team. This inaugural conference was an opportunity for key stakeholders from the EPP to collaborate with program colleagues face-to-face, hear from guest speakers and panellists, discuss best practice and participate in workshops with colleagues.

Immense dedication

Several Head Teachers Careers, SBAT Engagement Officers and School Administrative Officers overcame obstacles to attend the conference in person. However, flight delays were no match for our dedicated team of school-based staff. North Coast Head Teacher Careers, David Youman spent a long 11 hours in transit limbo before arriving in Sydney, with Deb Page Thomas, Kirsty Ebzery, Kylie Adams, Donna McWhirter, Natasha McDonald, Michelle Gill, Maria Egan also all experiencing flight delays. Rachel Shearer, Head Teacher Careers from New England and North West group of schools, not only organised a mobile coffee van for staff awaiting delayed flights, but made her way to the airport via helicopter!

Support for the program

The Hon. Sarah Mitchell, Minister for Education and Early Learning, and the Hon. Alister Henskens, Minister for Enterprise, Investment and Trade, Minister for Sport, Minister for Skills and Training, and Minister for Science, Innovation and Technology, expressed their continued support for the program through videos that were presented at the conference.

Minister Mitchell’s address conveyed the significant investment in schools, communities and careers initiatives that the program represents. It also touched on the need to open up new opportunities for our students and young people, with a particular focus on young women entering what might once have been considered non-traditional trades. Minister Hensken’s address focused on the enormous effort involved in scaling the EPP from 24 to 144 schools, which would not have been possible without the focus and dedication of school-based and program staff. Additionally, Minister Henskens address acknowledged the steady growth of skills and technology-based industries, and the employment opportunities that this creates.

Focus on growth and innovation

Hosted by UTS academic and ‘bon vivant raconteur flâneur’ Sunil Badami, the conference featured a number of interactive sessions including an EPP Initiative Showcase, a ‘Wicked Problems’ workshop, and a live streamed Senior Leadership Discussion Panel​. In this session, Lisa Alonso Love, Deputy Secretary, Education and Skills Reform, Deb Summerhayes, Executive Director, School Performance – Metro South and West, Ellen Lintjens, Director, Pathways and Transitions and Shannon Mudiman, Leader, Educational Pathways Program answered the question, “How can we best prepare Educational Pathways Program students for work in evolving industries?”.

Panellists reflected on a range of areas for exploration, including the important role parents play in encouraging students to consider different opportunities, the increase in awareness around VET and SBATs, and how the expansion of the program will continue the improvement of career outcomes.

Principal Champions announced

To commend their support and advocacy for the program, three principals from participating schools were acknowledged as Principal Champions: James Ostermann – Principal, Callaghan College, Jesmond Senior Campus; Kirstine Gonano – Principal, Liverpool Girls High School; and Richard Finter – Principal, Lightning Ridge Central School, who was unfortunately unable to attend to flooding in North West NSW. James, Kirstine and Richard have exhibited incredible enthusiasm, commitment and passion for the promotion of vocational learning and career pathways.

Many of the sessions offered opportunities for school-based staff to provide constructive feedback regarding the EPP’s future. While the program has achieved success in its expansion from 24 to 144 schools, the conference provided an opportunity for colleagues to come together to work on solutions for challenges. There was an acknowledgement that further collaboration and innovation is necessary and will occur.

Looking forward to 2023

The future of the program includes the opportunity for students across all NSW schools to have access to SBATs and VET courses. But this cannot occur with the efforts of Head Teacher Careers, SBAT Engagement Officers, and School Administration Officers who work tirelessly to deliver high-quality careers education.

Overall, the conference was a great success! Special thanks to initiative leads for their involvement, to Ellen Lintjens and Shannon Mudiman for their leadership and support, to the EPP Program team for their organisation of the conference, and to all attendees for their participation and engagement throughout the two days.

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