Moving forward with Ngoolo

Moving forward with Ngoolo

Bairnsdale Secondary College’s alternative learning course is kicking goals at its new campus.

While the doors on the Changing Lanes program have shut (as reported in last week’s Advertiser), the doors have opened on Ngoolo.

Ngoolo, which means Moving Forward, is the rebranding of Changing Lanes, with the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL) course moving from Rupert Street to The Hub.

The reshaping of the course came following a regular four-year review, which the school said showed it was time for a revamp.

The course still support those who require a different style of learning and those who may be disadvantaged.

“The concerns that were identified in our review around Changing Lanes was that it was located in Rupert Street, an industrial part of town. By bringing it down into The Hub, what the kids can access by that change in location, what it’s created is genuine connections at The Hub, because it’s a community facility, and it also gives access TAFE,” secondary college principal, Trudie Nagle, said.

“When you’re dealing with these kids, who have some battles, accessing TAFE courses was actually something that was really difficult to do at Rupert Street.

“We needed to improve the rigour around the programs themselves.

“It’s an invaluable part of the school program. It’s not shut, it has been rebranded and moved and VCAL is the focus for these kids –getting them through so they walk out the door with something in their hand.”

Michael Nelson – the man behind the success of Changing Lanes – is still the main man at Ngoolo. He and his fellow staff play a significant role in supporting the 22 students taking part in the program.

“Michael Nelson – he’s gold, he makes this work for these kids – he will literally walk them across there to TAFE,” Ms Nagle said.

“We’ve got Michael Nelson down there full time, we have Michael Phayer part time, which has always been the case, and Anne Daffey works there part time as well.

“They work very specifically for the kids with literacy and numeracy – kids have to be literate, they’ve got to be numeric – but it’s also about supporting the whole program for the kids.

“If they’ve got to go to TAFE, they might walk with them, support them, have conversations. Its to oversee the academics and well-being of those kids and they go above and beyond what’s required.

“They take these kids to heart and do everything they possibly can to help them.

“They are really tight knit group, the two Michaels and Anne are really positive role models for these kids. It’s almost like a family unit – they support each other, they stick up for each other, they make sure each other is okay.

“Michael’s (Nelson) heart bleeds for those kids down there; when things go well, he get’s excited, when things go wrong, it hurts him.

“They all – both Michaels and Anne – have a really strong connection with each kid’s family. They will make a lot more progress if they have strong family connections as well, rather than just working with the kid.”

Ms Nagle said an important part of the review detailed the need to expose the Ngoolo students to more opportunities.

“When it was at Rupert Street the kids would come to the facility, they certainly did good stuff while they were there, but it was isolating, so we had to expose these kids to the other things that were available,” she said.

“We encourage them to access The Hub courses, access the TAFE courses, plus they have all the facilities down there as well –they have things down there we can’t provide on campus.

“By engaging with The Hub, Jane Ponting, who is the CEO, has worked with Michael (Nelson). What we need is for these kids to develop a real work ethic and work understanding and ultimately be employed.

“By the time the kids are 17 we want them to have a very clear pathway of what they want to do, what direction they are going and how they are going to get there.

“Ongoing, meaningful employment is the key for these kids.

“By accessing the courses, like building and engineering at TAFE for example, that satisfies the vocational training component of VCAL, which sets these kids up to be employable.”

Students who take part in the Ngoolo program are chosen following consultation with staff, students and parents.

“The kids that are down there, they have different needs, very specific needs,” Ms Nagle said.

“There are 22 students there and school traditionally hasn’t worked well for those kids, so we needed to give them a different program, a different pathway, or in 12 months time we’re saying ‘the traditional school setting is still not working’.

“We have to address their needs.”

Ms Nagle said Ngoolo is the perfect stepping stone for these specific students.

“VCAL is a two-year course. For some of these kids it will take two years, some it will take three, and that’s fine, it’s what they come out with at the end,” she said.

“At the end they can say ‘I have a qualification, I have these skills’ and can then go to an employer and they are up and away.

“Lots of schools run alternative setting programs, all a little bit different in their own way, but that’s driven by the kids and this is what we need, this is what works for us.”

IMAGE: Bairnsdale Secondary College’s Ngoolo program is taking strides forward at its new premises at The Hub. (PS)