Changing Lives

Hands on Learning (HOL) has dramatically turned around a number of young lives since its introduction at Benalla College in 2010 and FCJ College in 2013.

HOL students undertake hands-on maintenance and construction projects around the school and the community, guided by a teacher and experienced local tradesman. The program provides students with employability skills and knowledge.

Students have fun building billy carts for an interschool race in Wodonga and take pride in their contribution to an impressive range of community projects, including:

  • Helping to repair fire-damaged fences
  • Refurbishing a church hall
  • Installing exercise stations around Lake Benalla
  • Painting the Scout Hall and
  • Beautification works at Benalla & Thoona cemeteries.

Hands on Learning started in the outer Melbourne suburb of Frankston. Tomorrow Today Foundation was so impressed with its approach and success that we introduced the program to Benalla’s two secondary schools.  Both Benalla P-12 College and FCJ College have embraced the approach, which expanded in 2014 to include Years 5 and 6.

ABOVE: Preparing the concrete pad for the seat

ABOVE: Building the seat.

BELOW: The seat in place in Thoona Cemetary

Years 7 to 10

The HOL results are inspiring: some students have stayed on at school instead of dropping out, one achieved his first-ever ‘A’ grade and many have gained apprenticeships.

School absenteeism of students aged 12 to 16 years, who participated in HOL, has dropped, attitudes to school have improved as have classroom engagement and student wellbeing. HOL has been identified as one element in the plummeting school suspension rate – from 356 suspensions in 2008 to 92 suspensions in 2011.

Students say they’ve discovered new skills, gained confidence, learned about teamwork and respect, developed strength and become proud of themselves. Some have achieved far better family relationships.

Years 5 to 6

In 2014, Hands On Learning extended to Year 5 and 6 students at Benalla P-12 College, with funding assistance from Tomorrow Today. The half-day HOL sessions strongly engage students before they begin their important transition to secondary school.