IT is a lot of money for a little school. Orange Christian School principal Melissa Brown could not believe her ears when she heard the school would receive more than $1.1 million from the federal government.
It is the biggest round of funding the school has received other than the Building the Education Revolution money in 2010 and Mrs Brown said she was “amazed and blessed”.
The funding will be used to build a trade training centre for students to complete certificates in construction and hospitality as well as their Higher School Certificate (HSC).
The centre will include a commercial kitchen, theory room, teaching cafe, storage, coolroom and amenities, the refurbishment of an older technology centre into a construction workshop, machine room, storage space and outdoor covered work area.
“It will engage [students] in courses that have value in the workplace and raise their aspirations,” she said.
Labor candidate for Calare Dr Jess Jennings said the Trade Training Centres in Schools program was targeted at increasing year 12 or equivalent attainment and improving student career options, particularly in skills shortage areas.
Eligible low socio-economic secondary schools have been prioritised in funding allocations.
“Schools are encouraged to work with local employers who can support the schools with expertise, equipment and provide on-the-job placements, school-based apprenticeships and traineeships for local students,” Dr Jennings said.
Mrs Brown said the centre could be used by the wider community, students from other Christian schools could study intensive practical lessons, students could make toys and furniture that was needed by charities and the Men’s Shed could hold lessons there.
“We’re very, very excited by the possibilities,” she said.
By enabling students to study trade qualifications they might be more likely to stay on to year 12 rather than finish at the end of their compulsory schooling in year 11, Mrs Brown said.
“They might be really interested in construction and so it gives them that option to get a qualification but we might say to them, ‘Ok so how about we do some maths on the side, some English’,” she said.
Orange Christian School has 332 students and the anticipated time frame is for building to take place over 2014 and for classes to start in 2015.
The funding is in principle but Dr Jennings said it had been allocated in the budget and was not subject to election results.