Federal senators hauled over coals

Senator John Madigan and Sale College year eight student Andrew Nash at work at a blacksmithing workshop last week.
Senator John Madigan and Sale College year eight student Andrew Nash at work at a blacksmithing workshop last week.

FEDERAL senators John Madigan and Ricky Muir were in town last Wednesday, visiting Sale College to work with students in the school's 'Hands on Learning' group.

Initiated at the school in 2009, the Hands on Learning program recognises the fact that not all students are suited to learning in the traditional ways of the classroom.

Senator Madigan, a blacksmith and boilermaker by trade, provided a blacksmithing demonstration, while Senator Muir, who has worked in local timber mills in the past, spoke with students about their experiences in the program.

Senator Muir said it was important all students had an opportunity to pursue their career dreams, whatever they may be.

"Everybody learns differently, and that's an important thing we need to remember," Senator Muir said.

"We can't encourage everybody to go to university because one, not every job needs people who have a university degree, and two, not everybody's interested, not everybody has the concentration levels.

"Some people would much rather get their hands on, so the Hands on Learning Program I think really lives up to its name."

Senator Ricky Muir talks to Sale College students about the Hands on Learning program.

Senator Ricky Muir talks to Sale College students about the Hands on Learning program.

On what was his third trip to Sale College, Senator Madigan said the development of the students in the Hands on Learning Program was evident.

"Hands on Learning does a great job across the state, but in the program here at Sale College you can see the fruit of it," Senator Madigan said.

"The young people engage in the school community, they look after the things that they've made, it's a win-win.

"Sale College staff are to be commended for taking on the Hands on Learning (program) and engaging these kids and not letting them fall through the cracks as happens to many kids who don't necessarily fit in in the academic environment."

Sale College Hands on Learning co-ordinator Valmai Todd has been in charge of the program at the junior campus for the past seven years and like Senator Madigan, believes it has been vital to keeping some students engaged in their schooling.

"It's a program to engage students who learn in different ways, so it's an alternative learning platform and it gives the students a chance to work as a team, have a go and build up a sense of pride," Ms Todd said.

"Statistically, I'd say around 50 per cent of the students who leave this program go on to do VCAL and a TAFE-based course and some are lucky enough to get apprenticeships.

"That's a remarkable drop off in the kids who would otherwise leave school, and it brings a financial benefit to society."