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Teacher Achievement Awards Winners 2015

Integrated Program

Mary-Ann Tonini, Felicity Hutton

VCAL Provider – St Joseph’s College, Echuca

Felicity Hutton, VCAA Chair Chris Wardlaw
and Mary-Ann Tonini

Mary-Ann and Felicity were assigned to work as team teachers of the VCAL classes at St Joseph’s College, which allowed greater flexibility for planning extended group enterprises as well as providing continuous communication, feedback and evaluation between staff. The program, developed over several years, involved removing the VCAL classes from the timetable grid and combining the two year levels into one VCAL group.

The VCAL program was restructured around a series of group activities that provided for learning across each of the VCAL strands. The common factor in each of the activities was a social justice element in keeping with the ethos of the college. The program developed from organising simple events such as a Shrove Tuesday Pancake stall to more complex efforts such as a morning tea for 200 people to support the school’s Timor Immersion Program, and an annual road trip for an adventure in an unfamiliar setting.

Since 2013 students have taken a bus journey of 13 hours covering 900 kilometres to a small Catholic primary school in remote northern New South Wales. Here they immerse themselves in the school, planning lessons, sports activities and art projects for the children. The program’s learning focus has become an exploration of Indigenous history and culture, facilitated by the interactions between the two groups of students and local Aboriginal education workers. Students gain a clearer understanding of the multiple barriers that Indigenous students face in remote rural areas, which deepens their sense of the many opportunities that they have access to in country Victoria.

Each year VCAL students build a gift for the Primary School; these have included a sandpit, a cubbyhouse and a memorial garden. The students have built rewarding relationships with the staff and students at the school and formed deeper bonds within their own VCAL group.

Mary-Ann and Felicity have built on the group strength of this experience. Students have run various social inclusion activities including a fun day for senior students at the local specialist school and volunteering in the St Vincent de Paul Soup Vans. They have developed a creative and collegial relationship through the integrated VCAL program. Both have been responsible for the development and implementation of a flexible and innovative program delivering rigorous and engaging learning opportunities for students with diverse interests and pathways.


Program Development

Gary Lumsden

VCAL Provider – Mount Clear College

In 2014, VCAL teacher Gary Lumsden initiated a partnership program between Mount Clear College and the City of Ballarat’s Kohinoor Community Centre. The program provides opportunities to benefit VCAL students and to support community involvement within the Kohinoor Community Centre.

The program was based upon students assisting with and developing learning activities for the clients of Kohinoor Community Centre. These activities were designed to improve students’ literacy and oral communication skills as well as to support students working as part of a team contributing to the community. The students’ planning, development and implementation of learning activities for Kohinoor clients was supported and guided by Kohinoor staff.

The students were assigned to two groups: the SAILS (Social, Activities, Interest, Leisure, Support) program and the Planned Activity Program for seniors. Students completed activities designed to encourage self-expression, exploring interests that could potentially be used with the clients at Kohinoor. Students explored and developed learning activities aimed at supporting adults and seniors with intellectual disabilities, depending on their assigned groups. They built skills, including effective communication (voice, body language), and competency in planning, developing and implementing leisure and recreation programs for seniors with intellectual disabilities. Students also became aware of the values that underpin the Kohinoor Community Centre and considered other opportunities to participate in their community. The program provided an opportunity for the VCAL students and the clients of the Kohinoor Community Centre to engage  in intergenerational relationship building and community connectedness. The program far exceeded expectations with students showing a marked increase in confidence and self-worth.

The relationships between the SAILS and Planned Activity Program participants and the VCAL students provided many opportunities for the development of social skills and increasing self-image and confidence and has become a successful collaborative partnership.


Team Teaching

Sam Kellow, Grant King

VCAL Provider – Kalianna Special School

L-R: Sam Kellow, VCAA Chair Chris Wardlaw and Grant King

Over two years, Sam and Grant created a VCAL program that has enabled students to learn and attain personal growth in self-confidence and a sense of achievement.

Sam and Grant used the Energy Breakthrough Human Powered 24-hour race as a basis for their VCAL program. They set goals for the course, designed the curriculum, prepared individual lesson plans, taught the students, and evaluated the results.

Both teachers spent many hours creating a program that is engaging and relevant, and which emphasised the knowledge, skills and attitudes of the learner in a hands-on environment.
A group of 22 VCAL students started the project at the beginning of the year, learning about topics that included:

  • physical fitness
  • nutrition
  • building the human-powered vehicles (HPVs) from the ground up
  • two-wheeled bike riding on the school track and the local velodrome
  • riding the HPVs on the school track and the local velodrome
  • collaborating to plan and implement a presentation to a judging panel at the Energy Breakthrough Trial event, demonstrating the knowledge and theory of the HPVs.

Explicit teaching occurred in the classroom as well as out on the track. For each student, the personal growth and development included self-esteem and personal achievement of the goal of participating in the 24-hour race. Each student was a part of the team, leading others, learning about commitment and accepting responsibility for themselves and others.

The learning program developed by Sam and Grant valued the contribution of students, built competence and resilience, and developed partnerships linking the students with the broader community.


VCAL Teacher of the Year

Narelle Dickson

VCAL Provider – Sacred Heart College, Geelong

Sacred Heart College Geelong
VCAL teacher Narelle Dickson
with VALA CEO Helene Rooks

Narelle has shown incredible passion for VCAL, and been integral to the program development, community partnerships, VCAL community contributions and promotion of the program at Sacred Heart College and the broader community.

Narelle’s innovative approach and hard work led to more hands-on experiences for students in the Personal Development Skills and Work Related Skills strands and a dramatically improved VCAL program at Sacred Heart College.

Narelle revamped the Intermediate Work Related Skills course to include the Certificate II in Business and a Social Enterprise partnership with fair-trade coffee importer WithOneBean, enabling students to run a small business and give them hands-on experience. The students learn about social enterprise and sustainability, as all profits from the coffee they grind, weigh, bag and market go back to the coffee farmers of Timor Leste.

By integrating these three components, Narelle has created an outstanding program. In 2015, Narelle presented this program to approximately 40 VCAL teachers who visited Sacred Heart College on the VALA Safari and received very positive feedback.

Narelle has also presented at the Regional Quality Assurance meeting, providing ideas, guidance and professional development to the teachers. With great vision for future projects, Narelle hopes to one day enhance the program so it can send the students to visit the East Timorese coffee farmers.

In addition to her hard work in the Work Related Skills strand, Narelle has also helped build the college’s Senior Personal Development Skills unit through their partnership with Geelong’s Samaritan House, a shelter for homeless men. She established the frameworks that enabled the projects to be flexible and student driven.

The high quality of Narelle’s program development has enabled students to excel and be passionate about their VCAL. In addition to her program development and VCAL community involvement, Narelle has played a major role in the successful promotion of the VCAL at Sacred Heart College and in the wider community.