Hands on Learning

Burwood Heights Primary School

Hands on Learning

Hands on Learning targets students in years 7 to 10 struggling with mainstream schooling. Students of varying ages come out of class for a day a week to share meals and work with two teacher/artisans on significant creative building projects around their school and community. Through this experience students are exposed to alternative careers, opportunities to reconnect with mainstream schooling and form meaningful and trusted relationships with independent adults. In line with Jan's view of education HOL recognises that to reach their full potential some students require a different form of learning as well as positive reinforcement of their capabilities.

The HOL Literacy & Numeracy Knowledge (LiNK) program seeks to:

a) leverage off the 'real life' literacy and numeracy lessons students are exposed to in the HOL program e.g. fractions, ratios, area, measurement, unit conversion and estimation;

b) introduce contextually rich literacy and numeracy tasks; for example compiling purchase lists of materials, calculating job costings, preparing Job Safety Analyses required by Occupational Health & Safety, and composing articles for the school newsletter to inform the community of the projects being undertaken; and

c) case manage students and liaise with their teachers including replacing some assessment tasks with HOL equivalent tasks e.g. preparing instructions on how to lay bricks as part of an English writing folio; calculating the volume and cost of concrete required for footings in lieu of a Maths worksheet on area.

Monterey Secondary College Project

Currently the HOL LiNK program is only running in one school, Carrum Downs Secondary College (CDSC). The school has been greatly impressed with the program and undertaken to bring an additional HOL LiNK staff member onto the team to enable the program to transition from its pilot phase into the full HOL model. The Jan Gorr Foundation has provided a gift of $15,000 to employ an additional person into HOL LiNK at CDSC in a training capacity for a minimum of two school terms at 0.5 EFT. After this intensive period of training in HOL LiNK methods, this person will be redeploy this person to implement the HOL LiNK program at another HOL school.

The aims and methods employed by the HOL Link Program strongly align with the objectives of the Jan Gorr Foundation in its efforts to awaken the potential of students who are struggling in a traditional learning environment. We believe HOL Link is an innovative program which will allow participants’ to discover that learning can be enjoyable. The program has also be shown to boost the confidence of participants, one of the key aims of the Jan Gorr Foundation

For more detailed information about HOL check out:

HOL Brochure

HOL Link Overview

Comparison of HOL Link Pre Post Test to an Academically Successful School

Burwood Heights Primary School

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Burwood Heights Primary School is located in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne in an area known as Forest Hills, part of the City of Whitehorse, and approximately 26 kilometres from the Melbourne CBD. Residential housing, which includes a Ministry of Housing estate, surrounds the site.

Burwood Heights Primary school is located in multi cultural area with 35% of families having a language background other than English. There is a significant level of economic disadvantage in the community with 49% of student families being in receipt of the Education Maintenance Allowance. In addition, student mobility is comparatively high and there is an extremely disproportionate number of students who have identified speech and language difficulties.

As a result of these factors Burwood Heights Primary School had adopted a holistic approach to education and believes that for students to effectively engage they must be happy, well-nourished and valued. This has given impetus to facilitate opportunities which will provide the students with programs where their self-esteem and motivation will improve as well as provide experiences that they might not otherwise have.

During the last two years the school has introduced two programmes which have provided students with essential life- skills. These include; 1. Stephanie Alexander Kitchen/Garden Program; and 2. Social skills program which has been run by an occupational therapist and one of the schools teacher aides.

The Kitchen/Garden Programme has been extremely popular and the students have all enjoyed it. It has enhanced their language, mathematics, science, integrated studies, socialization, motor skills, confidence and self-esteem. They have had great enjoyment whilst honing their culinary and horticultural knowledge and gained an eclectic approach to food and its production, preparation and consumption.

The social program has provided students with essential skills necessary to positively interact with their peers. In addition many of the staff members commit above and beyond the call of duty, organising weekly dances classes, basketball and netball teams as well as many other extra-curricular activities.

All of these programs come at a cost which can no longer be born by the school without sponsorship, grant or donation. Burwood Heights Primary School have worked very hard to introduce and maintain their innovations and can see the difference that they have achieved in student performance and well-being.

Burwood Heights Primary Schools programs and dedication of its staff demonstrates a commitment to awakening the potential of struggling students, both socially and academically. In her work, Jan Gorr attempted to achieve a similar result. By supporting and expanding the Kitchen Garden program the Jan Gorr Foundation will further its vision of helping to improve a child's self worth. The JGF has provided funding for a teacher who will run classes in the kitchen garden twice a week. We strongly believe that by making that 'extra effort' Burwood Heights Primary School is enriching its student' learning and life experience.

For further information on the school go to