Breaking the link of disadvantage

Some students come from backgrounds of such generational disadvantage, to be introduced to real job prospects is a “revelation”, says Principal Di Craig from Specimen Hill Primary School.

“A lot of these kids haven’t got any idea what employment looks like,” Ms Craig said. 

Thanks to the school’s Passions and Pathways program, funded by its equity funding allocation, students’ eyes are opening to a new world of professional possibilities.

 

“Everyone is on an equal footing as they quiz people in the workplace, explore passions and realise that they can work at something they love.”

The program aims to lift the aspirations of Grade 6 students by giving them the chance to visit businesses and then work on a project based on their experience.

Last year as part of the program, then Grade 6 student Marcus visited the Bendigo Botanic Gardens. Wondering around, it struck him how there were a lot of people doing different jobs to keep the place running.

“Gardeners, curators, managers, business developers, researchers, apprentices — I didn’t know there were so many job options there,” Marcus said.

 “I’m interested in maths but realised if I want to work in that area, I don’t have to be an accountant.”

New frontiers

Scott Pysing, a teacher involved in the program, said a manager at one workplace spoke to the children about his unremarkable academic record that he overcame with resilience and persistence.

“It was a powerful message,” Mr Pysing said, “The students saw reward for effort — keep, going, work hard and you will succeed.” 

"A child’s school results should not be restricted by their background. We want every child in every school to have the opportunity to fulfil their potential."

Another teacher involved in the program, Bec Kinsman, said students raved about their experiences, swapping stories and quizzing each other about what they learnt.

“They are also more engaged in the classroom,” she said.

Sally Thompson from Bendigo Pottery said that by opening their businesses, they were giving students something outside their family experience and economic circumstances.

“Everyone is on an equal footing as they quiz people in the workplace, explore passions and realise that they can work at something they love.”

Education Minister James Merlino visited Specimen Hill Primary School recently to help celebrate the school's Equity Funding success.

 “This funding is transforming the lives of children across Victoria and boosting the numbers of teachers and support staff; it’s making a real difference,”  Minister Merlino said.

"A child’s school results should not be restricted by their background. We want every child in every school to have the opportunity to fulfil their potential."

Equity funding

Other ways Specimen Hill Primary School is utilising its equity funding:
  • employed reading recovery teacher
  • developed an Explore program for grades 2-6 in reading and writing – 1:1 teaching tailored to specific needs of kids
  • employed a school improvement officer who acts as a coach for teachers
  • employed a speech pathologist (one day a fortnight) and an Education Support (ES) officer to work together
  • employed two extra ES officers to work with disadvantaged students and engage them through experiences such as cooking and kitchen garden.

The Victorian State Government has injected the largest ever boost in equity funding to our schools — so they can invest in additional resources and expertise to support their most disadvantaged students. 

For more information, see: Equity Funding