Passions and Pathways

1.    What was the problem?

A La Trobe University Project conducted with some Bendigo school students from grade 6 and year 7, focusing on the students’ life aspirations, elicited comments that suggested their aspirations, or in many cases lack of, for post-school career participation were limited. They believed, or held, little hope for their future workplace participation. It was apparent that many of the students believed successful career people were ‘lucky’ which seemed to automatically exclude them. There was no way that they were ‘lucky’!  Many of the students were impacted on by intergenerational disadvantage.

2.    What was the partnership?

It began with a simple comment in 2010 at a breakfast meeting that the Goldfields LLEN hosted for educators and business & industry leaders. The meeting focussed on improving partnerships between schools and the employment world to link authentic work place experiences for students from low socio economic areas to connect the dots between school and real-life; to open students’ eyes to the endless job and career possibilities that exist. A Primary School Principal spoke about how community issues, such as generational poverty and unemployment can impact on schools and on students’ aspirations and the desire to learn.

A local CEO from a Bendigo Manufacturing Business was ‘gobsmacked’ that local students were impacted on by generational poverty. He likened their environment to ‘third world’ conditions:

“I couldn’t believe that here in Bendigo we had students who held such little hope for the future and I knew that it was our responsibility as a community to do something about that.”

This started a unique momentum with the possibilities for an initiative inspiring some primary school communities to embrace an innovative partnership with business.

The outcome is Passions & Pathways Primary Schools & Workplaces in Partnership.

3.    Who is in the partnership?

Now in its sixth year, Passions and Pathways Primary Schools & Workplaces in Partnership is between the Goldfields LLEN (lead partner); four Bendigo primary schools (three state and one catholic with high SFOEs); the Economic Development Unit from the City of Greater Bendigo, the Bendigo Manufacturing Group; Regional Development Victoria; and over 40 businesses. Passions and Pathways for 2017 commences in term 3.

A representative steering committee meets bi-monthly.

Through the steering committee, consultation has occurred with external organisations including Careers Education Association Victoria (CEAV).

Components include:

  • Work safety preparation for work place visits
  • Work place tours (small groups)
  • Visits to classrooms by trained Young Industry Ambassadors; sharing their pathways from school into further education, training and employment
  • Work place projects in work places (small groups)
  • Taster workshops at the local TAFE and University
  • A student expo to showcase learnings to parents and their host businesses.

A fifth school from the Mount Alexander Shire will join in 2018.

4.    How is it successful – what is the evaluation evidence?

Passions and Pathways Outcomes

  • Meeting school based curriculum learning outcomes

Passions and Pathways web site developed with a Curriculum Framework linked to the Victorian Curriculum:

  • Developing students’ understanding of the world of work
    “I really want to learn more about all the industry visits; they will help me with my skills and ideas for my life. I want to learn about what kinds of jobs they have.”
  • To connect the dots between school and real-life
    “It was exciting to visit laboratories and to use microscopes to watch little creatures you can’t normally see; now I know what it is like to go to uni.”
    “I learnt how to work with people I don’t like and not to be shy when sharing my ideas.”

At the Passions and Pathways launch last year, several students in secondary school spoke about the impact of their experiences and how it made them realise the importance of staying at school. There was one boy in Year 8, who voiced that before his involvement he did not want to come to school. He felt now that Passions and Pathways has encouraged him to do more schoolwork as before he did nothing in class. He stated clearly that he now understands that Mathematics and English were important subjects.

A formal evaluation will be undertaken later in 2017 including the sustainability of Passions and Pathways.

5.    What was the value-add of the LLEN?

The Goldfields LLEN has been the lead partner and independent ‘broker’ building and strengthening the partnerships between all sectors.  The Executive Officer has a significant experiential background in education that is beneficial.


Originally published on the Local Learning and Employment Network Website