Ipswich State High School’s innovative approach to teaching and learning has shown to set it apart from other high schools in the region as it prepare students with transferable skills for the future.
The school which was recently announced as the top rated school in Queensland for vocational education and training (VET) offers unique programs, facilities and industry partnerships that prepare young people for the world of work after they finish schooling.
Ipswich State High School principal Simon Riley said when he became school principal he knew something needed to change with the way students were being taught.
“I’ve been here for 15 years and I decided very early on that what was happening here probably wasn’t helping the students,” he said.
“There was too much academic stuff, not enough trade stuff and not enough hands on stuff for the kids.”
The school now operates as a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) with 28 certificates on scope in a range of industries including, beauty services, nail technology, hospitality, construction, engineering pathways and horticulture.
“We write, deliver and assess VET certificates to our students with a focus on providing students with a set of skills to make them not only work ready, but ready to work,” Mr Riley said.
Mr Riley said the school will issue over 1,500 VET certificates to students across years 10, 11 and 12 this year with 100 per cent of students graduating with at least a Queensland Certificate of Education (QCE) in the past six years.
“Often students who did an OP or now an ATAR choose one brain break subject like a certificate in hair and beauty, it means some service and hands on work but it means that they’re not too academically challenged and can still do their English, maths and sciences” he said.
Mr Riley said since adding the program to the school’s RTO he has seen a positive response with not only students but parents signing up to obtain a QCE and take part in learn some new skills.
“This year a mum and daughter have graduated year 12 together,” he said.
“The mum came to me when her daughter was in year 11 and asked to be enrolled in the hair and beauty program as well, they plan to setup a family business with the skills that came out of the school.
“I calculated recently that there’s about 15 businesses in Ipswich that have hair, nails, eyebrows and eyelash services that are either owned by, run by or majorly staffed by graduates from this school.
Year 11 hair and beauty student Charlotte Smyth said she liked that the school had a balanced focus on academic subjects and hands on courses.
“I like how it’s different from all the other schools and I get to learn things that give me something to go into after school,” she said.
“I do nails, beauty and hair and hope to go into one of those areas after school.”
Imogen Woodward and Charlotte Smyth hair and beauty students wax a students legs as part of their course assessment.
Mr Riley said the key behind the programs working and the children succeeding on the other side of graduation came down to the teachers of the school.
“Without my staff, it wouldn’t work,” he said.
“If they didn’t share the passion I have for educating students into the real world it would just be a word on a sign, it wouldn’t be living and breathing as it is.
“The time they invest, the practical skills that they develop themselves and pass on to the kids is just amazing.
“What we’re doing now is creating the next workforce ahead of time.”