When Camille Sheldrick picked her son Liam up from his first day of VCAL at Chisholm, he couldn’t stop talking about it. This was a big change from his days at high school. “He said: ‘Mum, it’s just so different’,” Camille remembers. “He talked more about school on that drive home than he had for the whole six months prior.”
Before enrolling in VCAL at Chisholm, Liam had been struggling in mainstream high school. “He couldn’t see or imagine what he might do in the future … I was losing him,” Camille says.
Tanya King went through a similar scenario with her daughter, Aleysha. “It got to the point where she was very stressed and I was very stressed, and it was best to find an alternative for her to finish her VCE,” Tanya says. After investigating her options, Aleysha enrolled in VCE at Chisholm and never looked back.
Both parents have witnessed their kids re-engage with learning, gain confidence, and discover a world of new opportunities. “The difference has been night and day,” Tanya says.
Students are treated as young adults
Camille says the teacher-student dynamic at Chisholm was a big help for Liam. “At TAFE, people are there because they want to be,” she says. “I have an educational background and I think, in the past, there’s been a bit of a stigma that TAFE isn’t equal to the final years of secondary school, but it’s quite the contrary. It’s just the way it’s presented that’s different – it’s minus the assemblies, and the theme days, and the uniforms and everything else.”
The independence and small class sizes also really worked for Aleysha, Tanya says. “The structure and surrounds of TAFE were much more suitable for her – she was treated like an adult. She needed a good rapport with her teachers, and she got that at TAFE.”
Greater independence builds confidence
Camille says she’s noticed Liam is now taking more responsibility for his actions. “One of the biggest benefits has been his ability to take control of a situation. At TAFE, he became a more individual person,” she says. “He’s been able to apply what he’s learned in everyday life – and he’s now an adult, a young man, that I can rely on.”
Since graduating, Liam has gained part-time work and Camille says he recently acted quickly in a scenario when machinery stopped working. “It could have cost a lot of money for his boss or the company he was working with if he hadn’t reacted as quickly as he did – so I was very proud of him,” Camille says. “The boss really praised him for what he’d done.”