St Brendan’s Catholic Primary Bankstown parents are taking the opportunity to further their own education at the school’s community hub while their children are in class.
There are 11 people completing a Certificate IV in Education Support at the hub, which is part of a national network of spaces that aim to build social connections and provide access to services in areas where many have migrated from other countries.
St Brendan’s is a culturally diverse community with about half of its families of Vietnamese background. Other nationalities include Lebanese, Macedonian, Italian, Indian, Chinese and others. The introductory program of four sessions runs each fortnight. For those who opt to complete the full qualification the course will end in May.
It’s a very good chance to take and very flexible with my kids.
Other hub activities include a ‘Strengthening women and families’ workshop run in Vietnamese, cultural cooking, craft fun, financial literacy, and health and wellbeing focused workshops. Playgroup runs twice a week, and fathers also attend.
Community hub leader Steffi Dourado said participants come from both the school and wider community.
“Here women who may be full-time mums or working part time have a space to come together and develop life skills and build social connections,” she said. “It’s great. The school has been very open to having community come in and we get a community learning space that is flexible and supportive. Even the playroom downstairs, you don’t pay, you just come in. It’s more about giving people that opportunity to meet other people but also give their child the opportunity to develop social skills.”
The hub also ran a program for teachers on ways to further students’ communication and literacy skills with Bankstown Community Resource Group. Teachers had access to a speech therapist for support.
Alphonsia Succar would like to become a teacher’s aide in a primary school or work in a preschool after finishing the full Certificate IV in Education Support at the hub. She migrated to Australia from Lebanon eight years ago. Her son Alexander is in Year 2 at St Brendan’s.
“I wanted to do early childhood education but because I have a little one at home it was difficult to go to TAFE five days a week,” she said. “When I heard about the Certificate in Education Support and that we could have the classes at school every fortnight, I ran to it.
“It’s a very good chance to take and very flexible with my kids. I have plenty of time to finish assessments and at the same time, in my role as a mother, do what I should do at home. It has also given me a lot of ideas of how to help my son with his education and homework.”
Hoa Bui’s two daughters Julia, 4, and Phoebe, 2, make use of the free childcare service also on site at the hub while she studies. “It’s fantastic,” she said. “Less stress for us because we don’t have to travel to too many places and we can come downstairs and check on our children easily. I thank the school for giving us the opportunity.”