Southern Cross Catholic Vocational College Burwood has been recognised as an example of best practice in the independent review of the federal government’s Trade Training Centres in Schools program. The unique college opened in 2010 after a group of 11 Catholic schools in Sydney’s inner west formed a consortium and received $11 million from the federal government program to help build it.
It allows students in Years 11 to 12 to complete the Higher School Certificate and three Vocational Education and Training (VET) qualifications at the same time. Principal Patrick O’Reilly said reviewer Patricia Scott had not planned to visit the College, but was directed to it as an example of a Trade Training Centre that was effectively preparing students for the workforce by businesses that had employed its school-based apprentices. “The fact that they can go further and deeper into their qualifications here is a real highlight of what we do,” Mr O’Reilly said. “Most schools only have the capacity to run two units of a course so the students leave with a Certificate 2. In year 12 we offer nine specialisations and within those students will get either a Certificate 3 or a statement of attainment towards a Certificate 3, so it means that they leave here a lot more qualified, and a lot more job ready.” The college has also formed three unit subject ‘Integrated studies’– a combination of two unit English Studies and one unit Work Studies content – to avoid double up in the curriculum. Students study literature in their ‘Journey’ topic and their assessment is to plan an overseas trip that related to their chosen career. Year 11 students Pia Roselli, 16, and Anastasia Hampsas, 15, are completing school-based apprenticeships in hairdressing at salons in Balmain and Hurstville while at the college. Pia was directed to the college by an apprentice while on a visit to her own hairdresser and said her parents are pleased with her decision to attend. “They thought it was so good,” she said. “I was meant to go straight to TAFE because I really didn’t like school but my parents weren’t keen on me not doing the HSC. Here I’m doing the HSC and what I love.” For Anastasia, who plans to start her own business, it was a bit different. “I enjoyed school and my mum was completely supportive of whatever I did, but Southern Cross is like a head start in the career you want,” she said.
Southern Cross fast facts:
- Students at the college come from 39 different schools and travel from places including Bundeena, Berowra, the lower Blue Mountains and Sydney’s eastern suburbs as well as the inner-west.
- About 100 school-based apprentices and trainees at the school last year.
- Received an Australian Training Award – School Pathways to VET in 2013.
- Employs two specialist staff – a work placement officer and industry liaison manager to source between 800 and 900 work placements for students each term.