Up to 30 high school students will be getting hands on at local farms and businesses as part of the Integrated Pathways at Kepnock program.
Established last year by Kepnock State High School in partnership with Bundaberg Regional Council, the program aims to give disengaged youth an alternative pathway to education, featuring interactive learning with industry mentors.
Due to its popularity and recent funding of $50,000 from the Foundation for Rural Regional Renewal (FRRR), IP@K has started up again with three times as many students involved.
Kepnock State High School teacher and IP@K creator Danielle Hibbert said she was thrilled with the support.
“We had nearly 200 expressions of interest from students, teachers and parents this year,” Danni said.
“The sheer volume of interest was a good indicator of enthusiasm for the program for young students who don’t traditionally have access to vocational avenues until Year 10.”
The aim of IP@K is to provide students who are disengaged in the classroom with different pathways of learning.
Since the 2022 pilot, Danni said an IP@K Steering Committee had been created comprising Kepnock State High School, Bundaberg Regional Council, Peirson Services, Suncoast Gold Macadamias and Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers (BFVG).
“The Steering Committee have been meeting since the beginning of the year to schedule the 2023 program which has expanded to give students the opportunity to gain experience in hospitality, tourism, agriculture, health, manufacturing and retail,” she said.
“This term, IP@K students will be involved in a range of immersive activities from industry mentors including Bundaberg Tourism, Bundaberg Brewed Drinks, Macadamias Australia, BeeMart, Greensill Farms, Peirson Farms, Carinbundi, Peirson Services and TAFE Queensland Bundaberg Campus.
“IP@K students have already completed Workplace Health and Safety Training at Peirson Farms and have been enrolled into a SafeFarm HortCard program which will provide them with a Certificate of Completion via BFVG.”
The 30 students will be involved in the program over 10 weeks and will develop a range of skills on farms, in kitchens and more.
Why IP@K is helping students
According to Danni, an analysis of last year's pilot program showed participants gained increased awareness of multiple job opportunities and self-confidence, particularly after talking to industry representatives as part of IP@K.
“Feedback from participants from the 2022 pilot was also very positive,” she said.
“Bundaberg has a wide range of prosperous industries who have expressed an interest in supporting students who prefer a more hands-on learning experience.
“IP@K is unique because participants are still enrolled in the Australian curriculum but also benefit from a one-day immersive experience.”
Danni said IP@K would not be possible without the support from local businesses.
“We are very thankful and aware that participating industries are very busy and are very conscious and appreciative of the valuable time that has been dedicated to our students,” Danni said.
IP@K is proudly supported by Bundaberg Regional Council.