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Church of England Children's Home Burwood

The Weldon Centre extended its HELP program by establishing a partnership with TAFE Outreach to offer an introductory computer graphic arts course. Students responded enthusiastically to the creative elements of the program. Learning to use graphic arts software applications led to a noticeable improvement in their literacy and numeracy skills. The course comprised accredited modules and students received a TAFE Statement of Attainment at the end of the project.

Background

The Weldon Centre is a community based organisation operated by the Church of England Children's Home Burwood in the inner western suburbs of Sydney. It provides a HELP program, a youth refuge, family support services as well as children's services, including vacation care, occasional child care and before/after school care.

Staff believed the HELP students would benefit from receiving a TAFE credential as part of the HELP program. They felt that the confidence gained from receiving formal recognition of their skills might encourage the young people to pursue further education and training.

Project Objectives

The Strategic Pilot Project allowed the Centre to offer an introductory graphic arts course leading to a Statement of Attainment. The objectives of this bridging scheme were to:

  • use creative art tools and the graphic elements of computers to improve the numeracy and literacy skills of young people in the HELP program
  • offer an accredited program
  • stimulate interest among participants in pursuing further education and training
  • develop stronger links between the Centre and the local TAFE college
  • help participants increase their understanding of social values and responsibilities
  • increase participants' confidence and self-esteem.

Project Activities

The bridging project was run as part of the creative development activities offered at Weldon. These include photography, print making, sculpture, painting and drawing.

The partnership with TAFE allowed the Centre to offer a computer-based graphic arts program. Students were enthusiastic about using the interactive medium of computers. The creative nature of the project maintained the students' interest, resulting in high attendance rates and low drop-out rates.

TAFE staff helped develop the courses and projects for the pilot project, which consisted of three bridging modules. For one of the projects, participants attended the TAFE college and one module was run by TAFE staff at the Weldon Centre.

By undertaking part of the project in a community environment, the students realised it was possible to learn and gain a credential without attending a formal training institution.

Project Outcomes


Students received a TAFE Statement of Attainment at the end of the project.

Both staff and participants felt that the project led to increased self-esteem and self-confidence amongst participants.

The project clearly helped young people become familiar with the creative aspects of using computers. It also provided a 'user-friendly' introduction to the TAFE system and vocational training in general.

Literacy and numeracy skills were increased in the non-threatening, engaging and creative environment of an introduction to graphic arts.

Success Factors

The project succeeded because it skillfully integrated creative activities within a bridging framework that incorporated effective links with the mainstream VET sector.

The direct involvement of TAFE staff was particularly valuable, as they were able to use their educational expertise to develop projects and tools that focussed on developing language, literacy and numeracy skills.

Using computer technology and the creative arts engaged the students and maintained their interest throughout the ten-week project.

Possible Improvements

Both TAFE and Weldon Centre staff felt that the project would have been more effective over a longer period and would have welcomed an increase in the number of teaching hours.

Continuity of staff is important. Both the HELP teacher and the Head Teacher from TAFE Outreach left towards the end of the project. This means that new staff will have to re-establish the networks and redevelop the project. More formal links with TAFE could help ensure continuity of project staff.

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