Hands-on training makes sense at Canteen Creek 

Student Bianca Clegg learning basic construction skills

Combining vocational training with traditional classroom teaching is critical for successful educational outcomes, said principal of Canteen Creek School, Ben Hollands.

The 300-strong community is located 250 kilometres south east of Tennant Creek and benefits from Charles Darwin University’s (CDU) remote education.

Two lecturers from CDU’s Alice Springs Campus are currently teaching construction and horticultural skills. Jim Rebbechi, lecturer in carpentry and construction, and Jade Kudrenko, lecturer in horticulture, are working to improve the skills of the community.

Jim works with high school students to build a shed on-site at the school whilst Jade teaches horticulture skills to the women. Courses are typical of those completed at remote communities by CDU lecturers.

School principal Ben Hollands said the students enjoyed the hands-on approach of vocational training and it was a motivating factor for them to stay at school.

‘Many of our students are on track to achieve their NTCE (Northern Territory Certificate of Education) and that would never be achieved without VET,’ he said. ‘For us if we didn’t have the VET, we wouldn’t have retention.’

Ben also said trade skills were excellent for students with poor literacy and numeracy; ‘the students really enjoy the hands-on aspect of vocational education and once you do that you are capacity building for the future.’

Pride and ownership were also features of VET training. Jim’s work teaching basic construction skills will see the completion of a shed on-site at the school.

‘I’m anticipating they will take pride in the shed and police it because of the effort and rewards they put into building it,’ Ben said.