Students at 14 schools across the Pilbara are set to benefit from a renewed $7 million investment in public education under a partnership between BHP Billiton Iron Ore and the Department of Education.
Deputy Director General, Schools, David Axworthy said the partnership was producing positive results for students.
“The partnership is providing fantastic opportunities for students across the Pilbara to learn in industry-standard training facilities and get a first-rate education that will open doors for their future careers,” Mr Axworthy said.
Over the next four years, the Pilbara Education Partnership will support:
Trade Training Centres at Hedland Senior High School and Newman Senior High School;
academic extension programs for students in Years 4 to 6;
more ATAR courses to be offered for Year 11 and 12 students;
community playgroups for children under three in Port Hedland; and
one-off grants for school improvement projects.
BHP Billiton Asset President Western Australia Iron Ore, Edgar Basto, said the $7 million contribution would support around 4000 Pilbara students and their families.
“We are extremely proud that this partnership is making a real difference to the lives of students by providing high-quality options for young people to continue their education here in the Pilbara,” Mr Basto said.
BHP Billiton Iron Ore has contributed $23 million in total to the partnership since 2005.
BHP heavy diesel apprentice mechanic and former Newman Senior High School student Kaelen Agir said he was part of the first group of students to train in the Newman Trade Training Centre.
“It was great to learn in facilities which mirrored the real workplace – having access to the trade training centre meant I could stay in Newman for my senior schooling, rather than moving away,” he said.
A Pilbara local for many years, Kaelen said he enjoyed his job at the busy Whaleback mine at Newman and had aspirations to move into a leadership role in the future.
Newman Senior High School principal Carolyn Cook said the renewal of the partnership meant that students would continue to have extremely good opportunities. They would also have access to high quality facilities like the Newman Trade Training Centre and enrichment experiences for university entrance courses.
“We have seen more students leaving school with Certificate II qualifications; more students participating in university-bound courses, and families can be confident that high quality education is available in town and in other Pilbara towns and communities,” Ms Cook said.
She said the school’s STEM education (science, technology, engineering and maths subjects) helped prepared students for the future.
“We should – and do – provide students with a really strong, local education that has a Pilbara flavour."