Meet the team: Central Coast South

In this instalment of our ‘Meet the team' series, we head to the Central Coast South group of schools to hear from SBAT Engagement Officer Cecile Oakes, School Administrative Officer Sandra Murphy, and Head Teacher Careers Sara Cutting.

Sara Cutting, Cecile Oakes and Sandra Murphy from Central Coast South Sara Cutting, Cecile Oakes and Sandra Murphy from Central Coast South

Within the Central Coast South group of schools, the Educational Pathways Program supports students attending Brisbane Water Secondary College Umina Campus, Brisbane Water Secondary College Woy Woy Campus, Erina High School, Kariong Mountains High School and Kincumber High School.

We spoke with the dedicated school-based staff from Central Coast South - SBAT Engagement Officer Cecile Oakes, School Administrative Officer Sandra Murphy, and Head Teacher Careers Sara Cutting - about what makes their school group unique, why they chose to take on these roles, and what makes them feel supported in their day-to-day work.

What experience do you bring to the team?

Cecile: I have worked in the vocational education space for 20 years - from administration, to training and assessing, compliance manager and training manager of private RTOs. I’ve worked on both funded and non-funded pathways, as well as with SBATs from a training perspective. I have utilised all aspects of our education system as well, having left school to do an apprenticeship and later attained a university degree. I have also taught for the university sector. These experiences have made me uniquely able to work with industry, schools and trainees/apprentices.

Sandra: 22 years working within schools.

Sara: I have been a teacher since 2001 and have over 15 years of experience as a careers adviser. I am passionate about designing relevant, synchronous and asynchronous professional learning, which collaboratively upskills both herself, colleagues and the local community. I have developed and sustained industry connections over many years, leading to membership of steering committees. I have led the local careers network for 14 years and continue to work collaboratively and liaise with businesses and industry to build connections with local schools to implement and share programs that meet the changing needs of the current environment.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

Cecile: I enjoy the “a-ha” moments for the students. Seeing them achieve even small things, as well as the final result. I love the variety of industries the students are interested in, the variety of employers and seeing the program be successful as a pathway for education and not just seen as an alternative.

Sandra: Interesting and challenging.

Sara: What I enjoy most about my role is the variety of connections and opportunities to work strategically with key stakeholders, to analyse local data and research, to design and lead industry connections and partnerships in a range of emerging industries that are future focused and optimise student opportunities for post school pathways. Every day is different and exciting!!

Are there any opportunities or challenges that are unique to the schools and communities you are working in?

Cecile: Each of the schools I work in are unique in that the area and demographic of them varies based on the school itself, as well as the environment the students come from. This can be both challenging and an opportunity as it lends itself to creative solutions and a more extensive understanding of the students and their families. The biggest challenge so far is forging opportunities in the public health sector for our students on the coast. Given that we have a high level of health and community services, the opportunities for students to engage with the public health system is surprisingly limited.

Sandra: Lack of public transport for some students to get from home to TAFE or work experience.

Sara: What I find unique is the willingness of my amazing school principals to take the opportunities offered and work as a team to further develop industry partnerships with their schools, leading to bespoke school/industry relationships embedded into the curriculum.

What is your proudest achievement in the role so far?

Cecile: There are many achievements so to choose just one is not easy. I guess, for me, it isn’t about being proud of what I have achieved, but rather being so proud of the kids reaching their goals. Watching one of my year 12’s this year finish even though she was at risk in April of not meeting the requirements, that makes me proud. Listening to the students talk about how proud of themselves they are! That makes me so proud of them. Watching a student who was disengaged in their education passionately describe an activity they did on the job, that makes my soul sing.

Sandra: I am happy when I complete any task given to me.

Sara: I have had lots of very rewarding and proud moments so far. One of my stand outs would be ‘The North Challenge’, with North construction which tasked groups of students with solving the issue of housing affordability and availability on the Central Coast. Another would be the current industry partnership with BORG and Brisbane Water Secondary College Woy Woy Campus where industry is partnering with the school, has been embedded into the curriculum and will deliver advanced manufacturing - which also is a skills shortage on the Central Coast.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Cecile: Spending time with my kids, reading and working on my passions.

Sandra: Spending time with my husband and grandchildren.

Sara: Spending time with my family. Going on motorbike rides, sewing and sailing, cooking.

Where is your favourite place? This could be anywhere! A holiday spot, special restaurant or the patch in the backyard that gets just the right amount of sun!

Cecile: My favourite place in the world is the ocean. My dad was a sea-faring Captain and I was brought up on the ocean and large boats, so for me it is where I get my strength and peace. A beautiful sunrise doesn’t go astray either.

Sandra: Back deck looking at glimpses of Lake Macquarie and Watagan Mountains.

Sara: Kitchen - experimenting with new recipes.

For our binge watchers, or book readers... any recommendations of TV shows, movies or books?

Cecile: So many books to recommend. Not in any particular order.

1. The girl who fell from the sky

2. A joyful life

3. First, we make the beast beautiful.

4. The happiest man on earth

5. The bookseller at the end of the world

6. The Paris library

7. Noise

8. This is going to hurt.

Sandra: Lucifer on Netflix and any crime shows on Brit-Box.

Sara: Any crime/mystery shows or documentaries.

  • News
Return to top of page Back to top