An innovative approach to keeping secondary students engaged and actively learning is proving to be a great success at Bullsbrook College.
The Beyond Bullsbrook program has a focus on preparing the students for a life beyond the school gates, with an integrated workplace learning program and plenty of hands-on practical tasks, while still ensuring academic criteria are met.
Coordinator Rebecca Sajtinac explains the origins of the program.
“We decided we needed to approach student engagement with a focus on what we term ‘guaranteed and viable curriculum’.
“The purpose of this was to engage students that we had identified weren’t having their needs met with a traditional curriculum.”
After a successful proposal was put forward, Beyond Bullsbrook was introduced to the parents and students of those selected to participate and commenced in term one this year.
Lisa Dare, whose son Brayden Brownrigg is in the program, was pleased to hear of the new approach.
“As a mum of a then 14-year old who was going through a not-so-positive experience at school, I was very excited for them to implement something new,” she said.
“It was great to see that instead of just getting those constant calls with ‘Your child is not doing this, not doing that’ — to see the school take a different avenue and identify that they just can’t keep going the way they were going was really good.”
Rebecca, along with handpicked teachers Shevaun Langer (HASS), Wade Boon (English), Matthew Schultz (maths), Rob de Jongh (science), Lisa McCarthy (health and physical education), and Kim Hugo (workplace coordinator) are pleased to see their fresh approach being embraced by the school community, particularly the students.
Year 10 students Tyler Baker and Brayden Brownrigg have enjoyed the workplace learning and teaching of life skills, including applying for a tax file number and preparing job applications, and the personal growth that has accompanied it.
“It helps us get out of our comfort zone,” said Brayden. “We’ve had to call our bosses and actually have to speak to people that are trying to employ us.”
For Tyler, the program has helped ease some concerns he had over his own career pathway. “I never knew what I wanted to do, so I was worried there for a bit,” he says. “But when we got into Beyond Bullsbrook, they showed us all these jobs that we can do. Now I’m working at Bike Force and in building and construction, which I have found interesting.
“It’s also easier to learn as the classes are smaller.”
While there are countless boxes to be ticked to ensure a curriculum is effective, Rebecca says the relationships between teachers, parents and students is paramount.
“My whole philosophy on teaching revolves around building relationships with students,” she says. “That’s what the staff have really devoted time to — getting to know the kids. That, in conjunction with the adjusted curriculum focusing on their interests and listening to that student voice is proving to be the right mix.”
Beyond Bullsbrook is a testament to the agility and adaptability of the teaching staff who have shown an immeasurable level of dedication that has not gone unnoticed by their students.
“The teachers do work hard for this program,” said Brayden.
“Well, they tell us it’s hard,” laughs Tyler.
Brayden continued, “They want to help other kids in future years and I can more than guarantee you there will always be kids who don’t want to be at school, who struggle and can benefit from it.”
Coming to the end of first semester and Lisa has noticed the difference in her son.
“Brayden is more engaged, his teachers are open and supportive, and have taken to the time to get to know him and the group. Beyond Bullsbrook is opening up more doors for him and he can actually see that it is going to get him somewhere.”
Brayden agrees, “It’s a very good system.”