Going to school on beautiful Flinders Island is fine until you finish Year 10 but from thereon your education has to progress elsewhere. Most students move to Launceston to continue their education. At present, the Flinders Island District High School has 67 students from Kinder to Year 10. Twelve of those students are in the secondary school and thanks to the efforts of Holly Barnewall, they now have access to a substantial school-based Transition Program.

Transition Program - Flinders Island District High School
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Holly Barnewall leads the Transition Program at the Flinders Island District High School

A Transition Program for Flinders Island Students

by Roger Findlay

Holly Barnewall is a Flinders Island girl who has first-hand knowledge of the routine and knows of the challenges confronting those who have to move off the island to complete schooling and then university. I was reading the Mercury and an article listing Tasmania’s finalists for the Australian of the Year. There were four nominees for Tasmanian Young Australian of the Year and Holly Barnewall was one of them.

Transition Program - Holly Barnewall
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Talented and multi-award-winning school teacher, Holly Barnewall from Flinders Island

Holly is 27 now and (after completing uni.) came back to the island to be a teacher at the Flinders Island District High School where she teaches English, History and the Transition Program.


 

Originally a Transition Partnership was set-up between the High School and the Flinders Island Council but it has since been strengthened through introduction of the Newstead College and Tasmanian Life Long Learning as a partnership broker. The mission is to support the island’s students in their transition to further education and employment and to lessen the impact on the island community.

What Does the Transition Program Offer?

  • basic life skills
  • work experience exchange program with students from
    Newstead College (Launceston)
  • orientation trip to Launceston
  • youth camps and other activities to promote independence,
    confidence and awareness with the aim to make them feel
    supported and able to succeed
  • mentoring by Newstead College students in their first term
    of Year 11

In the past, before the Flinders Island Transition Program commenced in 2009, students experienced numerous difficulties with continuing their education and/or employment.

Transition Program - Lady Barron, Flinders Island
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The Transition Program helps students progress from Flinders Island to mainland schools

A survey of students prior to the Transition Program attracted the following responses:

  • 25% did not complete year 11 and 12 in Launceston
  • 75% encountered issues in this transition
  • 82% of past students did not feel supported in their transition
  • 100% were not aware of support services in Launceston
  • 73% had concerns and anxieties about leaving the island
  • 100% believed that the Transition Program now in place
    would have been beneficial to them
Transition Program - Whitemark Beach, Flinders Island
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Life on Flinders Island has many benefits, but the kids needed a school Transition Program

Twelve students are currently enrolled in the on-island Transition Program and were surveyed about what they believe the program has given them:

  • 83% – more skills in order to succeed
  • 67% – increased confidence
  • 100% – more independence
  • 73% – more supported
  • 91% – more aware of support services
  • 67% – more able to live, study and work post year ten
  • 100% – recommend the program continues
  • 100% – would encourage other students to take part in the program
Transition Program - The Docks, Flinders Island
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Students from the Flinders Island District High School have many reasons to return home after school

The success of the program is already showing as follows:

  • 18 students have completed the Transition Program
    from Year 10 since commencement in 2009
  • 10 are in full-time study (2 of those are at university)
  • 1 is in part-time study
  • 2 in full-time employment
  • 5 in full-time apprenticeships (4 of those are school based)

Holly Barnewall, Leading the Way on Flinders Island

With the help of others, much of this Transition Program has been driven by Holly Barnewall and the awards have been flooding in:

  • NAB Schools First Partnership Award –
    State Impact Award for Tasmania ($60,000)
  • Southern Cross Tasmanian Young Achievers
    UTAS Teaching Excellence Award
  • Finalist in the RBF Department of Education
    Award for Best Innovation & Encouragement
  • Nominee for Tasmanian Young Australian of the Year

 

Just like any other level-headed girl, Holly Barnewall is thankful for the support of her parents, Butch and Judy, as well as Stacey Wheatley, the Flinders Council Community Development Officer.

Transition Program - Butch and Judy & Holly Barnewall
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Award-winning Flinders Island teacher Holly Barnewall with her parents Butch and Judy

I’m thankful to Holly in giving me the opportunity to write her success story and to wish her well in her exciting life ahead. Well done, Holly Barnewall. You’re a credit to Tasmania and to Flinders Island.

Roger Findlay spends all his holidays in Tasmania, then writes about the
experience for Think Tasmania. If you’d like Roger to visit you in the name of
research (so we can publish information about your business), please contact us.

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Map: Flinders Island District High School, Tasmania…