Heidi finds TAFE a better fit

If school isn’t for you, there are other options. Here, Heidi Perry explains why TAFE worked better for her and how it helped her achieve her goals.

Heidi Perry went from strength to strength after transitioning from a mainstream secondary school to TAFE.

At high school, Heidi struggled to fit in.

“I didn’t like the way the teachers would stand in front of the class and teach the whole class together,” says Heidi.

When Heidi moved from Lakes Entrance to Seaford, her aunty suggested she try an alternative to Year 10 at TAFE instead of a mainstream secondary school.

After a tour of Chisholm, Heidi decided to give it a go. She successfully applied for a Caroline Chisholm Education Foundation scholarship and enrolled in the Certificate I in General Education for Adults.

The course aims to help students build their literacy, numeracy, communication and employability skills.

Chisholm proved to be the right setting for Heidi and she flourished with the smaller class sizes, more personal face-to-face learning and shorter study blocks.

“I like the one-on-one a lot more through TAFE because I understand a lot better,” she says.

“I had the best teacher I’ve ever had throughout my whole school life – primary school, secondary school, everything. She was so supportive.”

Heidi found it easy to get to know people and would often be the first person to introduce herself to new students.

“I’ve really liked the connection with other people that I never had in school,” says Heidi.

“I also learnt a lot more with my English and maths. I’ve always hated maths because I never had help to do it through mainstream school.”

Heidi went on to do the Certificate II in General Education for Adults.

She completed both certificates in half the time they usually take. The positive changes her teachers saw at TAFE were also evident at home.

For her incredible efforts, Heidi was named Foundation Student of the Year at the 2023 Chisholm Education Awards.

“When my teacher pulled me aside about the awards nomination, my immediate reaction was that I was in trouble,” says Heidi.

“I think the main reason my teacher nominated me was because I put a lot of effort into new kids who started. We had some kids who had come from a bad background and I’d introduce myself straight away.”

Heidi’s advice to other young people who were not coping with secondary school, not fitting in, or feeling unhappy was to consider TAFE.

“I’ve had a couple of other friends who have struggled at school and I’ve encouraged them to enrol in TAFE,” says Heidi. “They’ve done well too.”

After completing her certificates, Heidi enrolled in the VCE Vocational Major (VCE VM replaced VCAL in 2023). This is where you get to explore work and job interests by studying a nationally accredited VET qualification as part of your VCE-VM program. 

Heidi is exploring becoming a hairdresser, but is also interested in a career in community services.

“In particular, I’d like to work with the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA),” she says.

“You can get so many different jobs in community services.”