Feature Story: CHCS VET Program

Cir­cu­lar Head Chris­t­ian School VET Program

Business Pre Apprentice students enjoying the new foyer space
Music NCI film crew
ACCESS Creative Industries 3 D Printing
ACCESS Creative Industries students visiting Farm Mapping Services
ACCESS Creative
ACCESS Pre Apprentice2
3 ACCESS Music
ACCESS Creative Industries Drawing with the IPEVO camera
Pre Apprentice Working in confined spaces
2 ACCESS Pre App

Cir­cu­lar Head Chris­t­ian School stands out as one of the best of the small­er region­al schools deliv­er­ing VET in Tas­ma­nia. VET is core busi­ness for the school and cen­tral to the col­lege pro­grams with over 93% of stu­dents par­tic­i­pat­ing in some form of VET. CHCS ini­ti­at­ed the ACCESS pro­gram which stands for Achiev­ing Career Com­pe­ten­cies while Engag­ing in School Stu­dents. This incor­po­rates full VET cer­tifi­cates as well as skill sets to help devel­op work ready com­pe­ten­cies. All Col­lege stu­dents are expect­ed to com­plete a VET course. This puts it amongst the elite VET schools in the coun­try, like St Colum­bans Col­lege in Cabool­ture, and Brad­field Col­lege in Syd­ney, and a nation­al award win­ner of the School Path­ways to VET award in 2019.

The school demon­strates lead­ing or best prac­tice in many aspects of its VET deliv­ery. Each year the school offers up to 10 face to face qual­i­fi­ca­tions or skill set pro­grams rang­ing from the Pre-Appren­tice skill set, Cer­tifi­cate I in Skills for Voca­tion­al Path­ways, Cer­tifi­cate II in Sport & Recre­ation, Cer­tifi­cate II in Cre­ative Indus­tries, to Cer­tifi­cate III in Ear­ly Child­hood Edu­ca­tion and Care. Although the school has com­pul­so­ry Year 10 par­tic­i­pa­tion in VET stud­ies it also encour­ages stu­dents from Year 1112 to opt into a face to face course or con­sid­er online VET cours­es par­tic­u­lar­ly where the course aligns with stu­dent career goals and path­ways. These options vary depend­ing on the stu­dent rang­ing from Cer­tifi­cate I or II in Ani­mal Stud­ies, Cer­tifi­cate II in Retail Cos­met­ics, Cer­tifi­cate III in Fit­ness and a wide range of oth­er options. It has a strong focus on work place­ment and an impres­sive busi­ness and indus­try net­work to sup­port this. It has long been a key agent in the Learn­ing Com­mu­ni­ty that Cir­cu­lar Head has nur­tured (and been recog­nised for over the last 20 years).

This is a small school of 230 stu­dents so what it achieves through its VET pro­gram is extra­or­di­nary. The strate­gic plan­ning and think­ing is inspi­ra­tional — from past ini­tia­tives such as pur­chas­ing an oys­ter lease to run a com­mer­cial oper­a­tion with aqua­cul­ture train­ing at its heart, to its EDUTEC IT enter­prise both train­ing tech­ni­cians and ser­vic­ing local busi­ness­es, and new­er ini­tia­tives such as their can­teen oper­a­tion, employ­ing a trainee to assist in this area. It takes advan­tage of School-based Appren­tice­ships and Trainee­ships to sup­port these ini­tia­tives and encour­age oth­er local busi­ness­es to do the same.

The school has man­aged to recruit and retain out­stand­ing VET advo­cates par­tic­u­lar­ly those coor­di­nat­ing the pro­grams. It invests in staff to ensure they are appro­pri­ate­ly qual­i­fied and expe­ri­enced to deliv­er VET. Its com­mit­ment to nur­tur­ing stu­dents onto a broad range of edu­ca­tion and train­ing path­ways rang­ing from uni­ver­si­ty to appren­tice­ships is no less impres­sive. Indi­vid­ual stu­dent pro­grams are col­lab­o­ra­tive­ly put togeth­er cul­mi­nat­ing in high lev­els of stu­dent own­er­ship and suc­cess­ful completion.

The school is strong­ly net­worked into local busi­ness and indus­try. Smith­ton is at the heart of Tasmania’s strong pad­dock to plate’ move­ment and the school is strong­ly aligned with local skills demands from hos­pi­tal­i­ty, aqua­cul­ture, food pro­cess­ing and retail services.

Cir­cu­lar Head Chris­t­ian school has enjoyed strong lead­er­ship over many years with all the organ­i­sa­tion­al ben­e­fits that flow from this. Prin­ci­pal Ara Popows­ki is a strong advo­cate for the place for VET in schools and has been recog­nised by the Aus­tralian Insti­tute for Teach­ing and School Lead­er­ship (AIT­SL) as part of their nation­al ‘ Lead­ing with Impact’ case studies.

Mike Frost

VET Con­sul­tant
Inde­pen­dent Schools Tasmania
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