THE future of 10 Warracknabeal youths is brighter since the opening of a Satellite VCAL program at Warracknabeal Neigh-bourhood House and Learning Centre in February, helping steer young careers in the right direction.
Community based satellite Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL) Coordinator Casey Phelan said the program was tailored for disengaged youth aged between 15 and 20 years, who may have left secondary schooling or would like to further develop their education to make themselves more employable.
Ms Phelan said satellite VCAL allowed students who found learning difficult in the past or have left school early, to build their education and graduate with a certificate.
“Some may have trouble learning. Some might be two or three years out of schooling and need to improve their skills to be more employable,” Ms Phelan said.
“The system is different to traditional school learning. It's more an adult type of education”, she said.
Ms Phelan said the four subjects include work related skills, personal development skills, literacy and numeracy skills. “Each subject is related to the workplace and the wider community.”
Students are full-time and attend four days a week with some travelling to Horsham on Wednesdays to train in building and construction, multimedia, and music, among others, for VET training which is part of VCAL requirements.
Ms Phelan said the classroom allowed students to study towards a qualification and become more employable and confident in the wider community.
“We try to make class more in line with work life and develop personal skills,” she said.
Ms Phelan said all students were happy and getting on well.
“It's a pleasing working and learning environment. The students are a lot more engaged than their previous schooling. The attendance rate has improved considerably.”
Ms Phelan said students who joined Satellite VCAL this year, after leaving secondary school, had improved their attendance rate significantly.
“They understand the important decision they've made to their education and are committed,” she said.
Ms Phelan said Warracknabeal Secondary College principal Tony Fowler approached her to deliver the program and after seeking regional and government approval, Ms Phelan started to recruit students. “It all happened fast, which showed there was a need for it.”
“Through VCAL we have a prescription on what to teach based on nationally recognised employability skills.”
Ms Phelan said the students are adapting well to the program, adding “It's passed all expectations”.
“Education is delivered by focusing on a student’s strengths and we use technology as much as possible as a tool for learning,” she said.
“Some are suited to pen and paper style learning whereas others you have to develop their individual learning styles and I try to cater to their learning abilities”.
Ms Phelan will also be providing a presentation to the Royal Children's Hospital Adolescent ward in July.
“Hopefully I can give a few tips in helping their staff engage students towards better learning. It's a tremendous honour and I am looking forward to it.”

• SKILLS: Community based satellite VCAL co-ordinator Casey Phelan (centre) instructs students Josh Martin, 19, and Rachel Gawne, 17, using interactive on-line resources during class at Warracknabeal Neighbourhood House and Learning Centre.