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Judith Fewtrell


As Head of Department for Training and Employment at Mabel Park State High School (MPSHS), teacher Judith Fewtrell’s award-winning programs have helped build the reputation of her school and ensure a bright future for its students.

MPSHS’s Head of Department – Inclusion, Claire Caple, has noticed increased opportunities have changed students fundamentally.

“Due to her dedication and commitment there has been a significant increase in their aspirations and many students are obtaining sustainable employment,” Claire says.

Judy’s innovative program is one part of building MPSHS’s reputation, with current student enrolment up 40 per cent on 2017 numbers. Judy has also pushed for all students to graduate with at least one Certificate III qualification, as her research shows it significantly improves their employability. She additionally identified Certificate III's for the school to provide in seven predicted growth areas, including those in Aviation (which MPSHS was the first school in Queensland to introduce), Fitness, and Beauty Services.

The MPSHS Health Training facility was born too out of projections that the Health field would be the largest employer over the next 20 years. Four hundred and fifty students from 13 schools have attended the site one day a week to complete a Certificate II in Health Support Services. Eighty per cent of those who attended have continued in Health and the MPSHS Health Hub is now being duplicated in five other settings.

Many of Judy’s actions have assisted MPSHS students to achieve their Queensland Certificate of Education or further education, training and employment, including fostering relationships with local businesses, holding My Future Meetings with Year 12's about their exit plans, holding a Careers Expo at the school and hiring a Year 13 Transitions Coordinator to assist graduates.

There is also the Year 10 Charter Signing, a ceremony where all Year 10s sign a commitment to further education and employment upon leaving school that is witnessed by parents and the local community. It creates a mindset that unemployment is not an option.

“These qualifications are meeting students’ interests while giving them a pathway into future-demand industries and are proactive in breaking the unemployment cycle,” Claire says.

When looking to implement vocational education, Judy sought feedback from students and parents/guardians across a cohort that represents 69 different cultures. She also studied data and consulted local industry. Her findings led her to implement activities such as work experience, speed careering (where small groups of students rotate through visiting employers from many industries, who answer questions for about 10 minutes), mock interviews, and work readiness programs, to allow students to develop employability skills in a safe environment.

Judy embedded the Business Blackboard Program to have industry work with teachers to develop curriculum around skills for their industries. Industry people are also invited to Youth Attraction Days at the school to raise awareness about the employability of youth.

In 2001 when school-based traineeships or apprenticeships (SATs) were first implemented by Judy, there were concerns about students missing classes but over time Judy has been able to show the value of SAT's.

Vocational Education and Training (VET) is expensive in terms of maintaining industry knowledge and up-to-date specialised equipment. Judy regularly involves colleagues, parents/guardians, and industry in celebrating successful outcomes to show that it is all worthwhile. This includes an annual ‘big breakfast’ for industry and community, hosted by MPSHS students.

Judy has been recognised with awards and certificates from state members of parliament and her programs have seen MPSHS receive nominations and awards at regional and state level.

Congratulations Judith on being shortlisted for the TEACHX Outstanding Contribution to Teaching Award.

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