The Armidale group of schools finishing 2022 strong

The Armidale group of schools have had a busy and rewarding first year in the program. We spotlight these 7 rural schools and recap everything the program has offered their students throughout the year.

Image: Two students from Armidale Secondary College participating in the TAFE YES + Automotive program at Armidale TAFE campus

Since the Armidale group of schools joined the Educational Pathways Program at the beginning of 2022, Head Teacher Careers Kylie Adams, SBAT Engagement Officer Alison Dundon, and School Administrative Office Natasha McDonald, have been busy building relationships with their 7 schools, creating vocational education and training (VET) opportunities for their students and connecting with local industries in the region.

The 7 schools within the Armidale region include Armidale Secondary College, Bundarra Central School, Guyra Central School, Uralla Central School, Glen Innes High School, Emmaville Central School, and Tenterfield High School.

In just their first year as EPP schools, some highlights from the Armidale group in Semester 2, 2022 include:

  • 17 Year 12 students graduated with a school-based traineeship or apprenticeship. The industries included Automotive, Animal Care, Nursing, Business, Carpentry, Pharmacy, Agriculture, Engineering and Early Childhood Education.

  • First Aid training delivered to over 130 students across 5 schools.

  • Creating career gift bags for the kindergarten students starting at the 4 central schools - Uralla, Bundarra, Emmaville and Guyra - containing age appropriate books which can be used for career learning and a booklet for parents with 9 different activities they can participate in with their children.

  • Creating a Clothing Library in the Careers classroom at Uralla Central School, Bundarra Central School and Emmaville Central School for the Job Readiness workshop. Students can borrow items of clothing for job interviews, work experience or other career opportunities.

  • Q&A session for HSC textiles students with judges from the 2022 Fleece to Fashion Awards, Akira Isogawa, Jonathan Ward and Melissa Hoyer.

“Workplace-based, hands-on learning can be so beneficial for students to get a taste of a particular occupation or industry and determine if it is something they would like to pursue as a School Based Apprenticeship or Traineeship (SBAT), or engage in further training,” says Kylie Adams.

Of the 8 initiatives offered to schools in the Educational Pathways Program, the Armidale group was impressively involved in 7 of the 8 initiatives in 2022, with a plan to engage the 8th from Term 2, 2023.

Job Readiness workshops

In late Term 3 and Term 4, the Job Readiness workshops were delivered across 5 of the 7 schools in the Armidale cluster. Workshops were held at Uralla Central School, Bundarra Central School, Emmaville Central School, Guyra Central School and Tenterfield High School. The workshops focus on building confidence, providing practical tips and skills to help students prepare for their first job, and inspire them to explore rewarding vocational career pathways. The most important aspect is that students enjoy the workshop, and if feedback from school staff at each of the schools is an indication of this, it is safe to say that the students really enjoyed them!

“Staff at each of the 5 schools said the students had a lot of fun and left the workshop with valuable work readiness tips and information,” says Kylie.

Armidale Secondary College will host its first workshop in February for 40 students, after having the 2022 workshop cancelled due to the unexpected public holiday for the passing of Queen Elizabeth II.

Industry tasters helping students determine career pathways

Courses offered by the TAFE NSW’s Youth Engagement Strategy Plus (YES+) and Apprenticeship and traineeship headstart initiatives have been popular amongst students in the Armidale group. Throughout the final term of 2022, there were 4 YES+ workshops offered to the schools in Hairdressing, Engineering, Automotive, and Aeroskills.

“It was extra rewarding to see the engagement of the smaller Central schools - Uralla, Bundarra, Emmaville and Guyra in the TAFE YES+ Aeroskills course, as they don’t often get opportunities like that,” says Kylie Adams.

“The bonus of seeing two RAF Hercules aircraft practising ‘touch and goes’ (pilots learning to land and take-off) was amazing!” she adds.

Group Training Organisations (GTO), Transformational Institute and Yalagan, delivered pre-traineeship and pre-apprenticeship courses in Aged Care and Disability and Construction, respectively. Giving students a taste of these industries has sparked interest in further training, with students completing additional work experience and looking for SBAT opportunities in 2023.

“The TAFE YES + and headstart programs in the Armidale school group led to one student obtaining a SBAT (commencing in 2023), and another student enrolling in TVET Automotive in 2023 through EVET,” says Kylie.

Engaging with the school community

Three highly successful parent and industry breakfasts were held at Uralla Central School, Tenterfield High School, and Glen Innes High School. This was a unique opportunity for parents/carers of year 9 and 10 students, and local industry to get together to discuss possible work opportunities for students in the region. Current and former student SBATs were asked to speak in each location including Tara Vickery (Uralla), the NSW 2022 Training Awards 2022 School-based Apprentice/Trainee of the Year for the New England region and Allie Hill (Tenterfield), the runner up at the 2022 Regional NSW Training Awards.

SBATs on the rise

It is exciting to see the involvement of students, employers and schools throughout the Armidale region. At the end of Term 4, 2022, 38 students from across the Armidale group of schools had either signed up, or were in the process of commencing an SBAT for 2023, as well as 27 continuing SBATs from 2022.

What’s ahead for the Armidale group of schools?

Looking forward to 2023, the Armidale group of schools have a lot of exciting things planned, including an Educational Pathways VET Ambassador roadshow in Term 2. Following the success of the industry and parent engagements in 2022, Kylie, Alison and Natasha are busily planning more breakfast and after-school events. They are also working on some new and exciting “firsts” in the areas of engineering, financial literacy, and media and content creation, which will be rolled out across their group of schools this year.

We’re anticipating another rewarding, successful year of the Educational Pathways Program for the Armidale group of schools and look forward to seeing what they can achieve.

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