MOST high schools offer agriculture as just one subject amongst many; Queensland Agricultural Training Colleges is turning this traditional model of agriculture in school upside down.
The introduction of the Access Ag program in 2018 will give students the chance to focus on hands-on industry-scale agricultural training that the ag college is known for, while also completing their high school studies.
QATC director for education and training Kayci Delaney said offering the Access Ag program to students would give them many more opportunities.
“It will give students more flexibility in their outcomes, they will be ready to enter the agricultural workforce after the two years or to go on to tertiary studies in agriculture, both with the important senior school certificate under their belt,” she said
QATC has previously offered a high school program, which forms the basis on which the Access Ag program has been developed. “We find that the students are motivated to complete their high school studies, by the opportunity to spend the rest of the day working on their rural skills training,” she said.
The Access Ag program will be similar to boarding school, where students are attended to throughout the two years of their study.
“Students will be supported to do their high school distance education for two hours every morning, and at the end of the day and on weekends they will be engaged in a range of co-curricular activities such as sports, community events, and personal development,” Ms Delaney said.
The program will kick off next year, with initial placements capped at 48 positions for students commencing Year 11 – but Ms Delaney said there was an aim to grow that number in the future.
The Emerald and Longreach campuses of QATC are now run as one entity – with staffing and assets shared between the two campuses.
Ms Delaney said the Access Ag students will be based in Emerald most of the time but by studying through the School of Distance Education, they will have the flexibility to be at Longreach Pastoral College or the college property at Blackwater while undertaking their senior studies.
For rural students attending high schools which only offer until Year 10 – the program will give them an alternate, ag-focused pathway to traditional boarding schools.
“It’s really important for the community, the agricultural sector, and all of Queensland and even further afield to understand that there is a sector of students who really want to work in the agricultural sector,” Ms Delaney said.
“This program is tailored for them.”
Once completing the Access Ag program, students are given the option of a direct pathway into CQUniversity’s Bachelor of Agriculture program.
”We’re providing an opportunity that probably isn’t able to be found in the traditional high school model,” Ms Delaney said.
The program will be offered to day students and boarders alike.