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YuMi Deadly Centre's Dr Gillian Kidman and Professor Tom Cooper are working with a Gladstone trades organisation to revolutionise maths for local students and give them the confidence to aim high.
This semester students at the Gladstone Central State School will continue to ditch their classrooms for hands-on experience and their literacy, numeracy and science education should continue to improve as a result.
Since 2010, students in Years 4 to 7 have taken part in a program designed by the Gladstone Area Group Apprentices Ltd (GAGAL) and the YuMi Deadly Centre at Queensland University of Technology (QUT).
QUT Faculty of Education Senior Lecturer Dr Gillian Kidman said the program, Get into Vocational Education (GIVE), sees the students making toys and billy-carts, and developing horticulture and hospitality skills at GAGAL workshops one day a week.
"On the other days the students complete an integrated literacy, numeracy and science program at the school where all classroom activities relate to the trades experiences," she said.
Dr Kidman said GIVE had made the students much more motivated and engaged.
"They now want to attend school and participate in their lessons," she said.
"Many of the students involved in the program disliked school and just couldn't concentrate on normal classroom activities.
"By taking them out of the classroom one day a week, teaching them to do things like make a toy tow truck and then relating their school work to this experience, they're learning the fundamental literacy, numeracy and science skills they need.
"The NAPLAN results of students taking part in the program have gone through the roof.
"In some cases the kids' skills have improved so much they're conquering Year 9 numeracy and physics!"
Dr Kidman said the program had three key aims - to re-engage students in learning, to make them aware that trades are a viable work option for them, and to improve their basic literacy, numeracy and science skills.
"Many of the students taking part in the program come from families suffering generational unemployment and while the program aims to put up trades as an achievable option, we've found that the GIVE program is giving students the ability and confidence to aim sky high," she said.
"The program has exceeded our expectations with some students wanting to become engineers and other professionals and developing keen interests in physics and chemistry.
"The kids have seen the light, they want to be challenged and the next project on our agenda is to develop a robotics course for them."
She said the trades experiences were developed by GAGAL and the literacy, numeracy and science program was developed by herself and Professor Tom Cooper within QUT's YuMi Deadly Centre, which develops programs to enhance the education standards for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and those from schools in low socio-economic areas.
The program is delivered in partnership with the Gladstone group training organisation GAGAL, and has won a 2012 Group Training Australia (GTA) Partnership Award.
"The tradespeople at GAGAL who do the hands-on work with students are helping to put them on a pathway to learning and they are to be congratulated," Dr Kidman said.
She said Rio Tinto Alcan and The John Villiers Trust helped fund the program.
She said the GIVE/YuMi Deadly program was growing in popularity in the Rockhampton region with Mount Morgan State School now also involved.
Media contact: Rose Trapnell, QUT media officer, 07 3138 2361 or 0407 585 901 firstname.lastname@example.org