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Crookwell High School award for an Outstanding School Initiative

02 Sep 2019

STEM Education

Staff and students of Crookwell High School were rewarded for their efforts in science, technology, engineering and mathematics at the 2019 NSW ministers and secretary's awards for excellence on August 27.

In 2018, STEM academies were established in Cessnock, Canobolas and in Crookwell.

Traditionally a farming area, many of today's jobs in the Upper Lachlan Shire are still in agriculture, but jobs are increasing in the renewable energy sector. The region is already a base for many of New South Wales' wind farms, as well as solar farms.

The area is also a drawcard for tourism, the Australian Agricultural Centre is tipped to be built at Wharekarori between Goulburn, the wool capital, and Crookwell.

Many of the students are still leaving secondary education to gain employment in traditional farming jobs, like shearing.

The principal of CHS, Vero Joseph, and staff through the STEM Industry School Partnerships (SISP) are opening up the possibility of participation in a new economy.

"I have a really strong belief we need to get our kids ready for whatever future they hold," Mr Joseph said.

"It's uncertain, the jobs we know, may not be around much longer.

"If you look at the trends, short of an apocalyptic event... you need those [STEM] skills, those skills will certainly get us through the next 100 years.

"We are in a transition from labour based, we've moved to machine based, and when we move to a computerised workforce the old and traditional jobs will be less likely."

Last year, the pilot program, funded by the NSW Department of Education (DoE), partnered with wind farms and in 2019, they have chosen Veolia Waste Management and Tarago Waste Transfer Station.

Regional Development Australia Southern Inland (RDASI) have been working closely with CHS, its feeder schools and the recycling and renewable energy sector to deliver the project.

"The skills in collaboration, cooperation, creativity and communication are the skills that will help set kids up into the future," Mr Joseph said.

"The STEM project allows kids to work together to come up with ideas, to cooperate with industry and communicate a solution.

"It allows students to build those skills while at school, as well as connect with people in emerging industries."

Since the SISP program was established at the school a survey shows that more students are wanting to find work in the sector after they graduate.

"We've been really well resourced, physical and training, our staff is now at a higher level. We're in a strong position for our students," Mr Joseph said.

Last Wednesday, Mr Joseph attended an awards ceremony to celebrate outstanding achievement and inspiring public education.

The winners were across six categories: Minister's Award for Excellence in Student Achievement; Minister's Award for Excellence in Teaching; Secretary's Award for Excellent Service; Secretary's Award for an Outstanding School Initiative; Secretary's School Achievement Award, and; Public School Parent of the Year.

CHS was awarded and Cessnock and Conobolas High Schools for the Secretary's Award for an Outstanding School Initiative.

DoE secretary Mark Scott said the awards celebrated excellence within the public education system and the people who had made major contributions as role models.

"[This] is just the tip of the iceberg in innovation and commitment to outstanding learning outcomes that are happening across the NSW public education system."

RDASI industry liaison officer Camilla Staff said the future for SISP is positive.

"We are confident the initiative will continue in 2020, with the DoE's support, and expand to more schools and regions."

This article was written by Clare McCabe in the Crookwell Gazette. Read it here.