“My philosophy around year 11, 12 education is we have 70 weeks to re-engage some seriously disengaged students so they can become productive members of society and the workforce.”
That’s Steve Harrison, one of 12 teachers who’ve won a $45,000 Commonwealth Bank Teaching Award run by Australian Schools Plus – a philanthropic outfit that funds schools with disadvantaged students.
Harrison developed an aquaculture course in southern Tasmania that has so far put 31 students into full-time jobs.
“We set up our training organisation as though it was a workplace. Forget about being the naughty kids at school. For the first time, for some of them, people have an expectation that they will succeed,” he says.
Typical jobs resulting from the course are “feed controllers”, who work from Hobart remotely managing equipment on the west coast, or fish farm attendants. Fairfax
The course trains kids for jobs in the salmon fishing industry which dominates the state’s south-west. Students leave school with Certificate Two in aquaculture and a Certificate Two in Maritime Operations.
Teaching is done in the Huon Valley Trade Training Centre which was built in 2012 as an offshoot of the Huonville High School.
Typical jobs are feed controllers, who work from Hobart remotely managing equipment on the west coast, or fish farm attendants.
Students can study other subjects, but if they’re focused on the fishing industry they also do a “wraparound” program of literacy, numeracy and ICT skills.
Harrison taught aquaculture at another high school in southern Tasmania and then worked in the state’s department of education before being hired to set up the fish industry course for Huonville High School.
Steve Harrison developed an aquaculture course in southern Tasmania that has so far put 31 students into full-time jobs. Bloomberg
CBA’s general manager of corporate responsibility, Kylie Macfarlane, says criteria for the teaching awards include evidence that the work teachers do is having an impact on outcomes for students or can be shared with other schools.
Other award winners include Greg McMahon, principal of Doveton College in Victoria, where school hours were expanded to run from 6.30am to 8.30pm to engage the local community and draw parents into school operations.
“We focus on skilling children for the workforce of the future, financial wellbeing of young Australians and the use of evidence to drive greater outcomes for teachers and students,” Macfarlane said.