From pilot to success at Airds High School

For the 24 pilot schools, Term 1 2023 marks their fourth year participating in the Educational Pathways Program. We check-in with Airds High School in South-west Sydney to hear stories of student and school success.

Image: Students at Airds High School taking part in EPP initiatives

During the pilot phase of the Educational Pathways Program (EPP), a group of five Head Teacher Careers and four SBAT Engagement Officers supported 24 schools as they worked together to strengthen careers advice, integrate the initiatives of the program and increase the number of students involved in vocational education and training (VET).

The groundwork done by these Head Teacher Careers and SBAT Engagement Officers in their schools and school communities has been invaluable, and paved the way for many schools who joined during the expansion in 2022.

For Airds High School in Sydney’s south-west, Rosemarie (Rose) Vujcic Head Teacher Careers, and Fiona McKinnon SBAT Engagement Officer, have been the driving force behind the school since the launch of the pilot. With SBAT numbers continually growing, and students participating in a long list of career development opportunities, Airds High School is thriving in the EPP.

Thanks to the Careers Immersion Team, headed by Rose, the students have been exposed to various VET pathways and participated in countless career development opportunities.

Rose, who is passing the baton to a new Head Teacher Careers in 2023, says she is immensely proud of the progress they have made in their Campbelltown group of schools and what they have achieved at Airds High School.

“We have achieved some exceptional results for our group of schools since the launch of the pilot. Having the opportunity to build on careers education and see the impact the program’s initiatives have on students has been a very rewarding part of my role,” says Rose.

The list of achievements could go on and on, but some of the highlights include:

  • Airds High School opening up their Carpentry Trade Training Centre to students from South-west Sydney EPP schools to complete a pre-apprenticeship course with Group Training Organisation 1300apprentice (delivered as part of the Apprenticeship and traineeship head start initiative)

  • Support unit students taking part in a hands-on bricklaying workshop

  • Students from Airds High School and Eagle Vale High School visiting the Liverpool Hospital Academic Precinct worksite (transport provided by Rose who drove the school bus!). Students had an opportunity to see the work being undertaken for critical infrastructure in the area. Hard hats and high-vis vests included!

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from Airds High School, Eagle Vale High School, and Campbelltown Performing Arts High School AHS combining forces to take part in the ‘Lighting the Spark in our Future Leaders’ tech entrepreneurship program.

It’s often these opportunities that spark interest in a career for a student and commencing an SBAT becomes an attractive option. When Fiona McKinnon started working with Airds High School her focus was on promoting the SBAT pathway and building partnerships with local businesses to broker employment opportunities for students.

Starting 2022 with 5 SBATS and signing another 7 at the start of 2023 in the areas of Health, Automotive, Business, Retail and Early Childhood Education, Fiona has certainly been successful in building those relationships!

“An important part of my role is finding mutually beneficial partnerships for my student and the employer. We want the employer to maintain their focus on growing their business, while also making sure our student is getting the most out of the experience, as they start their career“ says Fiona.

A great example of this is the SBAT opportunity Fiona brokered for an Elsa Dixon Aboriginal Employment Grant recipient Isabel-May. With her career mapped out in Early Childhood, Fiona was able to match Isabel-May with an employer who was aligned to her career goals but, importantly, to her culture.

Tammy Anderson, Principal at Briar Road Preschool and proud Biripi woman is very supportive of local schools helping local students, and has worked closely with Fiona to help support and mentor Isabel-May throughout her SBAT.

“Briar Road Preschool has been the perfect employer for Isabel-May and it looks like they will continue together once she graduates high school and finishes her SBAT,” says Fiona.

Now in year 12, Isabel-May is one step closer to completing her Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care and wants to continue her employment at Briar Road Preschool while she completes her Diploma

For another student, his SBAT was the result of completing a pre-traineeship course through the ‘Apprenticeship and traineeship head start’ initiative. The initiative allows students to try a range of career pathways by completing short courses through Group Training ORganisations (GTOs) in which they can gain nationally recognised units of competency and potentially earn credit that can be put towards a full traineeship or apprenticeship.

Sebastian participated in a one week course in hospitality through the initiative with GTO Hospitality Training Network (HTN). The course sparked interest in a hospitality career for Sebastain which was recognised by the GTO and his school support team. Following his course he was given the opportunity to complete his RSA and was offered work experience through one of HTN’s employers The Shed Cafe.

“Sebastian had a glowing report from his employer during his work experience. The Shed Cafe were so impressed with his drive and dedication that they offered him a SBAT,” says Fiona.

Rose and Fiona agree that working together and in collaboration with the school is a big factor in the success of the program and why Airds High School has seen positive changes.

The Educational Pathways Program team wishes Rose all the best in her new role.

Stay tuned as we check-in with other pilot schools throughout the year.

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