THIRTEEN teachers got down and dirty at Wingham High’s trade centre to give their students a head start in the construction industry.
Industrial teachers from schools like Kempsey, Melville, Camden Haven, Chatham, Taree and Bulahdelah joined for a trades training day at Wingham High at the end of term to boost their skills to teach the elective construction module of the Vocational Education and Training course.
Students come out of the course accredited with the nationally recognised Australian Qualification Framework (AQF).
Wingham High School’s industrial arts head teacher, Damien Keen organised the day as a way for teachers to practise their skills and collaborate teaching methods.
Mr Keen called on Terry Lee, a professional tiler from Pacific Palms to be teacher for the day and to instil knowledge as the high school teachers performed a tiling task they hope to recreate in the classroom with students.
“I wouldn’t have thought I’d be back at school again,” Terry laughed.
He said he wished the course had been around when he was at school.
Mr Keen said it’s all about raising the teachers’ skills to industry standard which can be passed into students in the classroom.
“These are real skills they can actually use,” he said. “The students will learn about building to an actual industry standard.
“The skills are good to get out into the workforce, but if nothing else, down the track if they a renovating or building around the house, they will have practical skills that could help,” he said.
Mr Keen said since he started teaching the course five years ago, many students have taken home their new abilities and fixed things at home.
At the end of the practical part of the day, the teachers sat down and discussed how to implement the tasks for students.
For ex-Wingham High student, Chris Worth, the VET construction course led to a full time apprenticeship.
Last year, Chris started with Cameron Cole from the local building company CMC Construction as part of the 70 hour work experience component of the course.
Cameron said he got to know Chris through the work experience period, and once he saw he was a good worker, employed him as an apprentice.
One of the benefits for Cameron was that Chris had almost completed a year of TAFE studies as he had picked up enough qualifications from the VET course. This meant more time this year on the building site.
The school also accredits students with their white card for safety which is mandatory on building sites.
Chris said the chance to study construction at school gave him an idea of what to expect in the industry.
He learnt how to use hand tools and the basics of building.
“It gave me the opportunity to get out and see what it’s like and then base my decision on that,” he said. “I’d recommend it. It gives you a good start and great opportunities.”
“It definitely would have interested me at school,” Cameron said. “It’s worked out really well for Chris. He’s already talking about building houses for himself.”
Mr Keen said the tasks Wingham High runs in the course are above and beyond what is expected but are a great benefit for the students hoping to get a foot in the door in the industry.