Aboriginal education program sees higher graduation rates and post-school employment
July 23, 2012

The School to Work Transitions program has successfully supported Indigenous students’ efforts to complete the NSW Higher School Certificate and go on to varied pathways, including university, apprenticeships and other training.

The program works with each student and their parents on a personalised learning plan that includes the student’s career interests and goals, and provides activities and resources to lead them into a suitable career pathway after high school.

The program, supported by local miner Coal & Allied, started in 2010 and includes mentoring and assistance from Aboriginal community leaders, school-based traineeships, TAFE accredited training, industry visits and work placements.

 

James Rinkin with his father Kevin at the Nanga Mai awards in 2011 648 x 391
James Rinkin (right), with his proud father Kevin (left), began a horticulture apprenticeship with Singleton Council in 2011.

 

Aside from providing skills and resources to develop and achieve career goals, the program aims to take a holistic approach by involving students’ families as well as community members, businesses and local industry groups. Further, the School to Work Transitions program includes cultural awareness training to give school staff a better understanding of issues from an Indigenous student’s perspective.

And it’s getting results. Students going through the program have found work in industries like hospitality, environmental management, security, education and retail. Plus, Singleton High School says that Indigenous parents have become more involved in the school community, with greater communication and increased attendance at school events. A recent evaluation indicated that every Aboriginal parent and community members interviewed was appreciative of the support provided for their young people.


Coal & Allied also supports Singleton High School’s Ka-Wul Education and Cultural Resource Centre - their funds have contributed to a program co-ordinator, cultural resources, computers and student mentoring.

It’s making a huge difference to academic performance and lifting school attendance rates. And it’s contributing to an increase in the number of students identifying as Aboriginal. The number of Indigenous students at the school has risen from 68 in 2008 to 91 in 2011. And 99% of the students who graduated from year 12 in 2011 are either in the workforce or are starting or planning to take up an apprenticeship or tertiary education. One student who has benefited from the program is James Rinkin, who participated in the School to Work Transitions program before starting a horticulture apprenticeship with Singleton Council last year.

 

“While I managed to get my school work done on most occasions, I didn’t really give much thought to my future or what I wanted to do,” he said. “I always thought that I would leave school after year 10 but I was encouraged to stay on through this programme, and by participating in the school’s KaWul Cultural Education and Resource Centre."

 

“I’ve always been an outdoors person and enjoyed subjects like agriculture, woodwork, and animal care at school. The School to Work Transitions programme identified this apprenticeship as a career pathway that suited my interests and goals, and helped me to apply – I haven’t looked back since.

“It’s great to know that I’ve got a stable career ahead and the future is looking bright.”

 

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