Belconnen Schools Network – partnering to deliver career services
The Belconnen High School to College Transition Network supports sharing and collaboration between public schools and colleges in the Belconnen area of Canberra to deliver quality career services to all students.
The Network includes:
- 5 high schools (Years 7 to 10)
- 4 colleges (Years 11 to 12)
- community agencies
- further education and training providers
- staff from the ACT Education Directorate’s Education Support Office.
The Network meets a minimum of once each term to bring together a wealth of expertise from:
- professionally qualified career practitioners from schools and colleges
- qualified youth workers from community service organisations
- educators from the University of Canberra and Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT)
- employers from local business.
The Network focuses on collaborative action that the partners can undertake to improve career education programs and transition outcomes for students.
Collaborative programs have the added benefit of building familiarity and connections that will help students with the transition from high school to a college within the Network.
In 2018, collaborative activities included a ‘Talking Transitions’ event for parents of Year 10 students. The event was hosted by Belconnen Community Service and provided parents with an opportunity to learn about the transition from high school to college. Parents were able to access information from a range of other service providers, such as:
- Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services
- CIT College
- Health and Human Services.
White Card and Asbestos Awareness training
The Network has secured the delivery of White Card and Asbestos Awareness training through CIT for Year 9 to 12 students from all schools and colleges. Formerly, Network schools did not have the student numbers to sustain regular delivery of this training, but a collaborative program allows the training to be run multiple times each term.
Sharing of information between Network members has been valuable for members’ professional learning and for raising awareness and capability among teachers. Schools also benefit from shared information when students transition between schools and colleges in the Network.
The work of the Network is supported by the Transition and Careers section of the ACT Education Directorate which provides:
- leadership and guidance for career practitioners and careers administrative staff in schools
- administration of the online workplace learning system, InPlace, to provide insurance and administrative support for work placements in ACT and NSW
- management of the Pathway Planning website used by all schools.
Leadership and staff changes can challenge the stability of networks through loss of corporate knowledge and commitment. With consistent activity since 2015, the Belconnen Schools Network is now sufficiently established to continue regardless of future staff changes. However, ongoing recognition, support and resourcing from leadership will always be required.
Networks can be slow to reach their full potential. For the Belconnen Schools Network, the ongoing commitment of members to attend meetings and participate in Network events has been a key success factor.
Value of small wins
The Network has recognised the value of small wins by starting with small achievable projects and activities to build group confidence and cohesiveness.
Through the Network, Belconnen schools and colleges have been able to pool their resources to combine some programs and services.
- This minimises duplication and saves time and resources.
- It also supports career practitioners to feel less isolated and more confident and purposeful in their engagement with industry and the broader community.
What you can apply to your school
Networks between schools and other service providers may be applicable in other environments where there are shared transition challenges and goals. Commitment from members, resourcing and mutual respect are needed to establish a functioning network. Once the network is established external support may be gradually reduced.