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Funding gives boost to Clarence Valley education project


Brigid Veale
13 August 2013
A collaborative project to boost university participation rates in the Clarence Valley has received funding of $821,000 through the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP).

Stellar, coordinated by Southern Cross University, is an initiative of the Clarence Valley Industry and Education Forum (CVIEF). The Forum is a strategic partnership between education, business and the community, which seeks to have a sustainable community impact by working collaboratively and sharing resources to develop the futures of Clarence Valley youth. The partner universities are Southern Cross University and University of New England (UNE).

Rachel Callahan, head of Southern Cross University’s Equity and Diversity Office, said the funding would ensure the continuation of the Stellar project — one of three key initiatives of the CVIEF.

“The Stellar initiative is all about raising aspirations and improving participation in higher education through the provision of information, support and encouragement to students, families, carers, school staff and community groups,” Ms Callahan said.

The program has four key elements: Stellar@Primary, Stellar@High, Stellar Parents and Stellar Teachers.

“Our aim is to excite students about the possibility of university. In years 5 and 6 we will be building an understanding and awareness about university and introduce them to the career opportunities that are available,” she said.

“Through years 7 to 10 we will be undertaking specific activities including visits to university campuses, mentoring programs, work experience and homework support.”

Ron Phillips, Director Public Schools, Department of Education and Communities and chair of the CVIEF said parents and teachers also played a crucial role in shaping the aspirations of students.

“This is a fabulous initiative and we will be working closely with parents and providing additional support for teachers,” Mr Phillips said.

“We need to take a whole of community approach to support students to reach their goals and to make lasting changes that will have a long-term impact, not only for the individual students, but for our region as a whole.”

On 3 September, year 5, 6 and 7 students from the participating Stellar schools, will take part in Southern Cross University’s Coffs Harbour Student Association ‘Kids on Campus Program’, which will include a range of activities and a mock graduation.

This will be followed by the Stellar University Days, starting on 10 September, involving 600 year 7 students in the Clarence Valley.

Eve Woodberry, Academic Registrar at UNE said: “UNE has strong links with the Clarence region and is looking forward to working with SCU, participating Stellar schools and the CVIEF to raise aspirations of students and parents and to provide options for study.

“The CVIEF has provided an ideal opportunity for the partners to work together in developing a program which will engage the community and benefit students from an early age.”

The CVIEF partners are: Southern Cross University and University of New England, TAFE NSW – North Coast Institute, NSW Department of Education & Communities, Clarence Valley Council, Grafton High School, McAuley Catholic College, South Grafton High School, Maclean High School, Iduna School, Aboriginal Education Consultative Group, and the Commonwealth Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.

Photo: Rachel Callahan.