Media, news, projects

FRANKSTON WEEKLY – The power of hands-on success

The transformative power of building self-esteem and having the opportunity to experience success at school is highlighted in this story about McClelland College’s Chris Young. The story was published by the local Frankston Weekly.

McCC billy cart story 1 April 2013
A McCLELLAND College student has credited a hands-on learning method with turning his life around and inspiring his decision to pursue a career as a chef.

Chris Young told the Weekly that just three years ago he was spending most of his school hours in the library because of disruptive behaviour.

“I was one of the bad kids. I had to go to the library until recess and then I had to go home. I didn’t make the right choices,” he said.

Chris, now 16, said his outlook changed when Hands on Learning teacher Simon Church introduced him to the program, which focuses on social, trade and life skills.

“On my birthday he took me down to Hands on Learning to have a go on a billycart. It was very fun and that’s where it started. I’ve changed so much since then, I’m not getting into any fights.”

Chris has learned trade skills, including those necessary for building and bricklaying, but most enjoyed the cooking element of the program.

His speciality was chocolate chip scones and he is now working towards a career as a chef.

“I would definitely recommend it. It is a great experience, you get to make a lot of new friends and it is a great pathway to a career in a trade.”

Mr Church, a cabinet maker, said that at his worst Chris was “quite dangerous” but had improved dramatically.

“I thought there has got to be something more for Chris. For nearly 12 months he wasn’t interacting with other students and he struggled with finding an appropriate way to engage. Now we can leave him alone with power tools or in the kitchen cooking.”

McClelland College acting principal Amadeo Ferra said the program enhanced social skills, self-esteem, life skills and improved attendance.

The students cooked for each other, ate together and were in charge of shopping on a budget as well as preparing lunches, while considering allergies and tastes.

“They sit down around a table they built themselves. It is for kids who like to learn in a tactile way and it’s about keeping kids engaged.”

Mr Ferra said the school did not receive government funding for the Hands on Learning program but believed it was worth the hefty price tag in wages, as it had a five to one student/teacher ratio.

The program operates in 24 Victorian schools and has sparked interest internationally.


Kurnai College, Churchill

A small but dedicated crew are making their mark (literally) on Kurnai College.  They have started off with maintenance jobs and built up to pouring slabs for the fresh new garden area, which has given the Hands On team the chance to thoroughly develop their confidence and skills.


Northern Bay College, Geelong

Students are building and installing a section of boardwalk for the You Yangs Mountain Bike Course, used by 70,000 people every year. Parks Victoria supplies the timber and hardware and the HOL team provide the labour to build, install and eventually ride on the trails at the You Yangs! There are always lots of projects around school too, including building a fitness circuit, decking and repairing school picnic tables.

Click below to see full photos…

McClelland College, Frankston

The action continues at McClelland with the HOL hut on track for lock up by the end of term three and work on smaller projects like assembling bikes for the local primary school’s bike safety program, but there is always time to enjoy a roast from the pizza oven or celebrate a birthday!


Banksia-Latrobe S.C. Workshop Shed 2009

Banksia-Latrobe S.C. Workshop Shed 2009

Building commenced in 2008 and the workshop is just about complete take a look at the progress pictures

We would like to thank lots of people for their help along the way.

All the students that have contributed to building the Workshop, all the staff at BANKSIA-LATROBE S.C., ANSVAR Insurance, HICITY Gardening Services, DANAHERS Mitre 10, HEIDELBERG Rotary Club, BUNNINGS Northland