Durack's Education Support Team, headed by Coordinator Jan Bowen, hit the ground running when asked to deliver a quality program to remote schools in the Midwest and Murchison. The Department of Education advised that as part of their Job Role, there was a requirement for Aboriginal and Islander Education Officers (AIEO) and Education Assistants (EA) to obtain a Certificate III qualification.
It was not a simple program to deliver with AIEOs and EAs spread across more than 30 schools in the region. However, Jan and her team had a vision to bring quality training and delivery to all the workers in the schools. Accompanied by Barb Glenister, a lecturer with over 40 years teaching experience, Jan set about visiting all the schools and communities.
“We had conversations with principals, registrars and staff about how the program would work best for them,” Jan said. “Most of the AIEOs and the EAs already knew Barb from the years she had spent mentoring staff in the Murchison so that important relationship was already established. This was one of the key reasons why the program was such a success.”
“In September last year, 25 Murchison students graduated after completing their Certificate III in Education Support. This is something that I don’t recall has ever happened before in this portfolio,” said Jan. “The program took 18 months to deliver and involved 30 000 km of travel.”
The program was no ordinary ‘teacher assistant’ training course. Once student needs had been identified, resources were specially designed and adapted to suit the different requirements of the students and their school environment. Maree Mack, another lecturer in the Education Support Team, helped to design new resources and prepare workshop materials for the program.
“We are in the business of ‘changing lives’,” Jan said. “Our EAs work with children who have literacy and numeracy issues, physical and intellectual challenges, additional and special needs.”
“We work in remote communities and in isolated schools. We often work with children who have been ‘damaged by life’, abused or neglected.”
“We hope to make a difference in their life, to be a voice for those who can’t speak for themselves. We hope to inspire all those we work with to create a future for themselves where they can reach their potential.”
Jan said that support for the students was ongoing throughout the program. Barb travelled extensively throughout the Murchison to deliver workshops, to provide one-on-one training and to complete on the job assessments. Many students achieved success working with the on-line component of the Course through Blackboard, completing quizzes, posting Blogs and submitting assignments.
“Work was often completed before, during and after school hours as well as evenings and weekends,” Jan said. “Other members of staff in each school were very generous in supporting their AIEOs and EAs. We thank them for their valued input and support. We are very proud of the students’ achievements but without the help of Principals, Registrars and classroom teachers, the program could not have been so successful.”
And it proved to be well worth it, with the Education Support team’s dedication earning an Award from Durack for the successful delivery of their program. “To receive the High Performing Team Award for all the work we do in the schools throughout the Region meant a lot to our team. It was wonderful to be recognised in this way,” said Jan. “I would like to thank everyone who has supported us with this program and congratulate all the students who have successfully achieved their qualification.”