This year all senior students at Thames High School can participate in GATEWAY, an exciting work-based learning programme funded by the Tertiary Education Commission.

GATEWAY provides students with the opportunity to explore an area of employment that they are interested in. However they don’t simply observe or participate in the work; they must gain some qualifications that relate to their employment.

A student might express an interest in floristry for instance. The GATEWAY coordinators, Donna Sawyer and Leanne Donovan, will prepare a learning plan for the student that includes the student, the school, a local florist and the parents of the student.

The student will spend a few hours each week, for about a term, working with the florist, gaining practical experience and seeing whether the job is what she/he really wants. The school will help the student study for some Unit Standards that relate to floristry, and arrange for an assessor from the relevant Industry Training Organisation to come to Thames and assess the student. The support and commitment of the caregivers of the student are essential if the programme is to succeed.

The benefits of the GATEWAY experience are several. Students get the opportunity to experience a job that interests them before they must commit to a long and expensive training programme. If they do decide to continue down that road, then they already have made a start to gaining the required qualifications; if they don’t, then they have saved themselves from an expensive and time-wasting course of study.

Local employers are given the opportunity to observe potential employers at no financial cost to them. Often when a vacancy does appear, a GATEWAY student is given first option, as the employer already knows the person is committed and interested.

Any senior student interested in GATEWAY should contact either Mrs Sawyer or Mrs Donovan.