Illawarra Senior College
ILLAWARRA SENIOR COLLEGE
Mr SULLIVAN (Wollongong) [6.12 p.m.]: I pay tribute to the work being done by the Illawarra Senior College, formerly Port Kembla High School, which was reconstituted after approximately $2 million was spent on upgrading facilities. Its purpose is to provide an alternative to traditional high school and TAFE education. The current enrolment is 372 students, but some of them attend part-time and the actual full-time equivalent is 302 students. The college offers a number of programs, including the flying start program, which is designed for students resuming their education after a break. The youngest student in this program is a 17 year old who left school in year 8. The oldest is a 45 year old who has returned after being away from the school environment for almost 20 years. It is important to note that this program recently won the director-general's award for effectiveness and innovation. The preliminary program is designed for year 11 and
12 students who, for various reasons, choose not to attend a traditional high school. The students come from anywhere in the Illawarra. They are often students who, for various reasons, find it very difficult to fit into the more restrictive, traditional high school environment.
Often such students come from dysfunctional family relationships, and perhaps because of their personality they have difficulty adjusting to the traditional classroom situation. They therefore require additional support or a more mature environment in which to continue their education and flourish as individuals and adults. A vocational program offers dual-accredited courses for the higher school certificate and TAFE. This program is proving to be increasingly popular as young people find it difficult to get employment and can see the advantages of undertaking courses that are accepted for the HSC to give them a skill that makes them attractive to employers.
The Australian Student Training Foundation is trialling a national traineeship scheme at the Illawarra Senior College. It is based on a format of part-time study and part-time work, and gives students who otherwise may not continue with their education the opportunity to work and earn some money while continuing their education. The Minister for Education and Training visited the college and was as impressed with the college as I am. A child-minding program is offered for students who have babies and young, dependent children. At the moment it cares for 12 young children and babies. In 1996, 75 students of the college were candidates for the HSC; 11 were placed in the top 10 per cent of the State for one or more subjects, and one student topped the State in two-unit Italian. It should be noted that halfway through her HSC year that student gave birth to a daughter. Recently I had the great pleasure of presenting her with a prize at the graduation ceremony. I believe that says a great deal for the course and for the college. [Time expired.]