Learning reaches great heights at Brentwood Secondary College

Teachers come from all walks of life – read on to learn how one person went from a career soaring through the clouds to helping young people’s dreams come true…

Brentwood Secondary College offers Aviation as an elective subject in Year 10, thanks to their science teacher - qualified Boeing 737 pilot with a command rating, Chris Barry. Aviation became a VCE subject so students can continue learning in Year 11 and 12 – and even get their private pilot licence. Students from other schools can study Chris' Aviation subject too.

Chris says this gives students a defined pathway towards a career in aviation.

'It means that when they leave Year 12, they would have either qualified as a Commercial Pilot or be very close to it,' Chris says. 'This is a remarkable achievement.'

'The approved VET subject still works within the VCE framework and contributes to the students ATAR score.'

Teaching a passion

When Chris was doing his pilot training, he was also an integration aide in a school for about six years. 'From this, I witnessed first-hand how people learnt, and how many people learn in different ways,' Chris says. 'I found this fascinating.'

Chris later completed a teaching degree as a mature age student. 'I think it is also very important to have competent people teaching the subject,' Chris says. 'If everybody who had aviation experience was outside flying, there are few people in a school environment that can teach the curriculum to CASA specifications.'

Hands on learning

The students also use flight simulators and mapping software. When they've mastered everything they need to know, they get to fly a real plane.

Brentwood Secondary School's aviation class
Aviation teacher Chris shows a flight simulator to two Brentwood Secondary College students

​​'There is nothing better than getting out of the classroom and in to an aircraft, putting all the skills you have learnt at school in to the air,' Chris says. 

Chris found that teaching Aviation gave students 'the penny dropping' moment. In Aviation, students apply science, maths and geography to flying an aircraft.

''The aviation course links everything students have been taught from a wide range of subject areas. It provides them with a clear picture of why we do things the way we do'

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