Published on 13 November 2013
The University of the Sunshine Coast has helped pave the way for thousands of regional school children to make the transition from secondary to tertiary education in areas ranging from science and engineering to creative writing.
USC’s partnerships with Chancellor State College and James Nash State High School assisted in both schools recently gaining award-winning edges in the Queensland Government’s 2013 Showcase Awards for Excellence in Schools.
The schools each received $26,000 as two of the seven major category winners in the state-wide awards, which had 145 submissions.
Chancellor State College’s Engineering Futures Program, which won for excellence in innovation, started in 2008 and has involved almost 4,000 students from its own campus and other schools in the Sippy Downs area.
The program was facilitated and resourced by the formation of a Science and Engineering Education Centre (SEEC) by Chancellor State College and USC.
In partnership with USC, the school provides pathways for students to immerse themselves in engineering, science and technology at primary, secondary and tertiary level, including science expos and camps, science and engineering challenges, robotics challenges, science research awards and competitions, and university attendance.
USC Senior Lecturer in Engineering Dr Richard White said the University’s Integrated Learning Engineering (ILE) program allowed Year 11s and 12s to study undergraduate engineering courses that counted towards future degrees at USC if they met the entrance criteria.
“There are many mutual benefits for the University and for Chancellor College as we inspire a love of maths, science and engineering in high school students and better prepare them for the experience of university education,” he said.
Matt Brooks of Chancellor State College’s ILE Learning Hub said more than 40 per cent of students had gone on to related tertiary studies and enrolments in the ILE program at the school had quadrupled.
James Nash State High School, which has been working with the University on extension programs for primary and secondary students since 2007 and was the first school to trial ILE in 2009, won the award for excellence in the junior secondary years for its Transition Pathways for Individual Excellence Program.
USC has partnered with the Gympie school to deliver Middle School Excellence Programs in Creative Writing and Science and Mathematics as it works to nurture the next JK Rowling or Albert Einstein.
Darrin Edwards, principal of James Nash State High School, said the programs had provided Gympie students with extension opportunities that were not previously available and were helping to cement the school’s reputation for academic excellence.
“We run Middle School Excellence programs for students from Year 5 onwards, plus holiday programs, a junior Academy of Creative Arts, extension subjects and scholarships for Maths, Science, English, Sport and the Arts,” he said.
“Working with USC, we also provide tertiary extension programs in our senior school.”
Dr Maria Arena, who runs USC’s Creative Writing Excellence Program at James Nash State High, said it aimed to encourage creativity, raise aspirations and demystify university for students from Years 6-12.
“The eight-week course teaches the basic elements of creative writing to interested students whose stories are then published in an anthology,” she said.
“Through the fun and challenge of creative writing, we plant the idea of university as an inclusive place where students can succeed, which is the impetus for our ongoing partnership with James Nash State High School.”
— Julie Schomberg