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VET and Hospitality at Tenison Woods College

24 May 2022

VET Academy of Hospitality is offered from Year 9 at Tenison Woods College – an intentionally early start into VET certification allows many of our younger students an alternative to technology-based food studies offered in middle school classes. By beginning Certificate II Hospitality in Year 9, students are given the opportunity to consider their learning from the perspective of employability skills whilst also developing a more traditional complement of basic life skills common to a food technology classroom. 

After a year of immersion in the program, students are able to choose to continue with the course full-time into Year 10 or suspend their training to continue into a Year 11 pathway for continued achievement of full qualification.  Often, students will opt for partial qualification only at the end of Year 9, leaving them with a cluster of skills intentionally designed for a diversity of workplaces in readiness for future options past Year 9.  First year skills include an introduction to OHS across a broad spectrum of industry scenarios, with basic customer service and team-based skills included in initial units of the qualification pathway.  The intention of the course structure is to provide students with a flexible foundation as they enter the workforce and in preparation for workplace activities such as work experience and first job roles.  Students subsequently find employment opportunities in hospitality scenarios but often also in trade and retail situations.  The course has also proven a valuable foundation for traineeship opportunities into Years 10, 11 and 12.

Students focus on industry standards and professionalism from the very first lessons of the 24-month course; small classes and one-on-one mentoring allow stewardship of student development as a pathway to a qualification based in high-quality and authentic learning experiences, aligned to industry standards and trends.  The success of the programme, which engaged close to 60 students across Years 9, 10, 11 and 12 in 2021 (in both online and offline contexts), is that it is designed to suit the specific needs of each student.  The formation of deep connections and understanding of individual student learning needs has allowed each student to find success relative to their personal learning style and plan, applying to both practical and theoretical programs in tandem, and relying on team communication and cohesive co-operation of staff to support student learning as a priority.  An environment of professionalism and intentional learning opportunities is encouraged across all facets of the program.

In addition to this approach, Australian Standards are communicated through the lens of current trends but primarily, through the lens of Catholic faith with the majority of practical content aligned to the ethos of the College.  Regular, full-day sessions of seven hours in the College’s own café (The Sugarloaf Café) are rostered for students on a day release program in order to service the school community.  Students prepare and serve meals for a large cohort of student and staff members, support the production of coffee with barista services and support the provision of catering activities for the Early Learning Centre. Commonly, students support the school and greater community through provision of hours and skills to contribute to projects such as catering regularly for Sunset Community Kitchen, The Mount Gambier Catholic Parish, Tenison Woods College Board Meetings and promotional events, local mental health services and in scenarios of community service with local training partners at Mount Gambier business premises.

Coming into the third year of offering Certificate II in Hospitality through an auspicing agreement with national RTO AIET, many Certificate II graduates have continued to complete traineeships externally in industry.  2022 has seen the culmination of efforts towards building a high-quality student skill base with a full-time traineeship offered post Year 12 for the first time at Tension Woods College, thus allowing a student nominee who has graduated from the Academy of Hospitality to continue into a Certificate III pathway.  In addition, the full-time position of Professional Café Barista has this year been divided between an industry professional and a student in Year 11 undertaking a school-based traineeship to complete Certificate III as an Academy graduate. Both pathways have offered opportunities for talented and passionate students to pursue their training and qualification whilst continuing under the mentorship of Academy trainers who have established close relationships with students over the two year period of their Certificate II training.  Greater potential lies still in the development of SACE pathway opportunities aligned to extended VET qualifications for future student opportunities and a foray into higher certificate units (this is a future goal of the Academy pending discussion and approval).

More broadly, Tenison Woods College offers a range of VET pathway options for students in Years 10 to 12.  Students are currently completing certificate qualifications in subjects such as Dance, Hairdressing, Business, Hospitality, Retail, Horticulture, Forestry, Music Industry Performance, Real Estate, Fitness, Plumbing, Maritime Operations, Automotive and Early Childhood Education – which reflects the College’s careful focus on crafting learning pathways aligned to individual student career goals and interests.  A number of VET pathways are also being undertaken as school-based traineeships or apprenticeships.