Student support key to success at Byron Community College

Student support officer Lance Hopson with pre-employment student Leon Dawes. Photo Narelle Hobbs

Locals will be familiar with Byron Community College as the place to learn anything you have a passion for – cooking, painting, Spanish, basket weaving – but the Mullumbimby-based Byron Community College is also a key provider for Vocational Education and Training (VET).

For the past few years, Byron Community College VET course completion rates have stood at nearly twice the national average. Student support officer Lance Hopson credits this to the college’s ongoing student support.

‘We pride ourselves on working closely with students,’ he says. ‘A student can come in any time of the day and I’ll stop what I’m doing and make time for them.’

The college works proactively with students at the beginning of study to identify and sort out educational needs and life issues to minimise disruption to study.

Weekly drop-in sessions allow VET students access to help with assignments and study organisation, computers and printing. One-on-one tutoring is also available.

Lance understands that ‘school is not for everyone’ and respects the courage it takes to attempt education again, especially if foundation skills are missing.

Adult education traditionally teaches these skills separately, but the college weaves foundation skills into their vocational coursework. Practical, real-world skills are core components of Certificate III and IV VET courses and work placements often lead to employment.

Fostering opportunities for local employment is a large part of the college’s community-based ethos.

Mullumbimby local Leon Dawes joined an employment pathways project between the college and Byron Council ‘to get a job’. He completed four months of classroom-based training and work experience and has been successful in securing a job with Council.

‘I definitely think the course I did will help me in the future, particularly for interviews,’ he says. ‘If I had the chance to study at the college again I would love to. I found the college easy going and the teachers were awesome, not at all like at school.’

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