Belar Avenue, Frankston, VIC, 3199
Established in 1999, Hands On Learning (HOL) is a one-day a week in-school engagement program that supports middle years students at risk of disengaging from school. HOL operated in 29 schools in Victoria in 2013, with most schools funding this from within their existing budgets. Approximately 660 students took part in HOL in Victorian Schools in 2013. Students work in small groups on creative building projects that help students develop confidence and a sense of personal achievement. HOL was implemented at McClelland Secondary College (McCC) in 2009, running four days per week, with four different cohorts of students in 2013. Located in Frankston, McCCis a government funded school with 862 students (450 male, 412 female, 3% Indigenous students, 12% language background other than English in 2012) offering VCE and VCAL programs. Students involved in HOL have typically experienced barriers to schooling due to: numeracy/literacy issues, risk taking and disruptive behaviour, health/mental health issues, abuse and home violence, and alcohol/drug misuse. In 2013, 50 students (38 male and 12 female) took part in HOL at McCC.
How this program works
HOL aims to build self-esteem, confidence and a culture of success to help students at risk of becoming early school leavers to achieve and get the most out of school. HOL is a targeted early intervention program working with small groups of students from across Years 7-10. Students attend HOL voluntarily. Ten students work with two adults (who are Education Support Staff but referred to as artisan-teachers), one day a week, in an applied learning environment on construction projects that benefit the school and local community. All HOL teams begin by building and fitting out a hut that then serves as their base. At McCC further projects include: a chicken coop for the science faculty, sets for the annual school production, work on the Frankston Community Garden and a renovation of the Balnarring foreshore rotunda. By engaging, as a team, in real and relevant projects, students develop intra and inter-personal skills, self-management, basic literacy and numeracy, and school attachment. Parental involvement is encouraged through family pizza nights and volunteer opportunities e.g. in the vegetable garden and patchwork quilt making.
Core to HOL is the formation of positive, productive and meaningful relationships based on trust and respect with other students and adult role models. This is facilitated by using a ‘first name basis’ for staff and not wearing school uniform on HOL days. Students are well-supported within a safe and friendly environment where healthy life skills are modeled in a practical way, for example by preparing and eating lunch together. Students are helped to set goals, given opportunities to lead, explore their own interests, and the space to make and learn from their mistakes. All HOL students have a focus plan, which is used to help students identify and develop key social skills and behaviours with the support of their teachers