Doing diversity and doing it well

The senior years of education can seem complex and, for some students and caregivers, also feel overwhelming in their importance. These final years of compulsory education may also be considered finite moments that can determine students’ futures forever. While we certainly understand the significance of these years, we also hope to educate students and parents about the diversity of options and flexibility of pathways for the future. There is no longer one of two pathways available to students in their future lives. In fact, there are now multiple ways for students to achieve their potential and find a direction that suits them best to reach their goals.

Not that long ago, and perhaps within your own experience, education seemed to offer just two distinct pathways. One direction that followed Year 12 was the pursuit of university study. This remains the most popular pathway for Year 12 Tatachilla graduates. The second option was a vocational pathway that most likely involved an apprenticeship and on the job training. While the apprenticeship for a trade still exists, it can now take many forms and extends to a number of diverse vocational pathways.

What is most exciting about post-school pathways in 2017 is that they remain as diverse as the students we are privileged to teach. I am also happy to advise that the very simple two-tiered model of old has had a much-needed make-over. The truth of the matter is – not only do university and trade pathways still exist, they are no longer mutually exclusive. So, a young person can graduate at Year 12 to study a vocational qualification for a period of time and then decide to enter university study. Alternatively, a student who has studied a vocational qualification as part of their SACE may also go on to university. In other words, there is no longer just one pathway and one route to learning beyond school. The reality is that for our future graduates, life-long learning – no matter what shape it takes– will be a pre-requisite for any occupation as long as citizens are employed.

Thanks to the expertise of SACE Coordinator, Cheryl Simes, and VET Coordinator, Tracy Templeman, and our senior subject counsellors, we direct students into exploring areas of passion, strength and diversity so that they might consider personalised career options, as well as diverse ways to achieve them. There are a myriad of opportunities and flexibilities available here at the College across senior years and students and families are encouraged to speak with Mrs Simes and Mrs Templeman to explore them.

So, what does diversity look like in terms of course choice? It can be incredibly unique according to student strength, interest and commitment. In acknowledgement of the different ways that learners can demonstrate their skills, the South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE) can comprise SACE subjects as well as vocational subjects. Take a look at the accompanying info-graphic for a snap-shot of the number of students who elected to complete a Vocational Education Training (VET) option for study in 2016. Also consider the way in which this can assist students in achieving their SACE as well as enabling them to explore a specific pathway while still at school.

We are very fortunate to be able to facilitate a number of course options that offer the chance for flexibility, success, personal fulfilment and excellence for students. These alternative options can challenge students in a number of different ways to develop adult life skills. For example, some students pursue courses that require independent travel arrangements – such as travel to Thebarton Senior College. Other options demand good self-discipline, adult learning and organisation skills such as Open Access courses. Vocational courses can also demand on-the-job adult learning skills, self-regulation and discipline such as the Doorways-2-Construction course offered on the College grounds. Regardless of the course selected for study, all registered students are challenged to manage their SACE subjects together with their customised courses of study and this requires maturity, commitment, dedication as well as good time management.

Accelerated Study

Mathieu Patton (Year 12) has successfully completed Stage 2 French in 2016 through Open Access and has now commenced a Headstart Program of study with Adelaide University. This course provides high achieving students the opportunity to study at university while still in Year 12, and these university studies count towards SACE and an ATAR.

While studying at university, Headstart students not only have the opportunity to find out what university learning is like before they finish school, they are provided with a challenge beyond the Year 12 curriculum and the chance to grow as individuals. This preparation for adult study can enable students to replace or supplement their Year 12 subjects with university courses (subjects). Their university grades are recorded, and students are credited these grades towards their SACE Stage 2 level studies and ATAR. 

Head Start students may also receive credit towards their degree studies. This enables students to complete their program of study early or study a wider range of courses than usual when at university full time.

Specialised Study

Many students have undertaken the Stage 2 Workplace Practices for Elite Athletes – a subject offered externally through Marden Senior College. Students who compete in sport at an advanced level, are encouraged to consider this as an option. In addition, students who are involved in equestrian events or dancers may also be considered for enrolment depending upon their individual circumstances. Currently we have six Senior students undertaking this course:  Lochlan Bradley, Xabian Cederblad, Noah Davies, Taylah Levy and Joe Vile.

VET Courses

Over 40 students are currently enrolled for VET courses offered in alternative educational institutions. Examples of courses include: Animation, Early Childhood Education and Care, Fitness, Hospitality, Media, Tourism, Roof Plumbing, Rural Operations (Animal Husbandry), Christian Media and Theology, Retail Make-up, Applied Fashion, Design and Technology, Automotive Servicing, Kitchen Operations, Active Volunteering, Construction, Hair and Beauty, Retail Baking and Carpentry.

We currently offer VET qualifications on campus through the Vetamorphus, Doorways 2 Construction and Conservation and Land Management courses.

Open Access Courses

Students have elected to complete courses through online learning means and have experienced a variety of successes and acknowledgement of excellence. Currently Jacinta Paardekooper (Year 10) is undertaking Stage 1 Biology and Georgia Beveridge (Year 11) is undertaking Stage 2 Child Studies. Further Stage 2 Open Access courses offered to students this year also include Women’s Studies, Legal Studies, Society and Culture, Accounting, Spanish, Nutrition, French and Aboriginal Studies.

A Love of Languages

Students with an interest in language study are also able to access The School of Languages for courses of interest. In 2017 Oscar Anthoney, Lucie Tully and Lily Ingoldby-Craig are enrolled for Stage 1 courses.

The acquisition of an ATAR for university entrance is certainly an achievement, but it can now be accomplished with some acknowledgement of personal diversity thanks to the current expectations of SACE. Furthermore, a vocational pathway can also lead to university.

In the year of Live. Love. Learn. I hope that we can work together to map diverse and student-specific pathways for learning that enables our young people to see multiple ways to their life goals for fulfilling ways of living. I hope that we help our learners to understand that they will learn best when they love what they do. And I hope we continue to focus on diversity – there is more than one way to success!

Mrs Marylyn Marshall


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