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The Essington School NT

Work experience goes global

The Essington School in Darwin has had a long commitment to intercultural understanding and developing Asia literate students under the leadership of the Principal, David Cannon.

The school's language offerings include both Indonesian and Japanese, and the school is in the process of introducing Mandarin.

Essington recently introduced a ground breaking work experience program that sees Year 11 students travel overseas to Singapore, exposing them to the many career opportunities on their Asian doorstep.

Enrichment through travel

Student groups travel to Singapore, where they explore the nation state by subway and on foot, interacting with the local population of Chinese, Malays and Indians.

The students and their teacher chaperones live at the YMCA, and the busy international metropolis becomes home for a short period. At the same time, students gain invaluable knowledge and skills by doing work experience in a global business hub.

As part of the program, students undertake short job placements. In addition, they are all involved in formal visits to the dozen or so participating companies, including the ANZ Bank; an international architectural firm; a Dutch maritime company; Wilhelmsen group, a public relations firm; and, the Singapore Zoo.

Raising expectations

There is an expectation at The Essington School—which from its Darwin location is just a stone’s throw from Asia—that teaching and learning about the region is a shared responsibility. The Singapore work experience program complements an existing suite of strategies used by the school to promote and achieve Asia capability.

Teachers are regularly involved in professional learning tours of Asia, and are tour guides themselves, taking student groups on cultural trips. Throughout each year, students keep in touch with four sister schools located in Japan, Thailand, Sumatra and West Timor.

The school has strong links with Tamagawa University in Japan. Recently, with the Japanese gas company, Inpex, work has begun on a new Japanese language and culture centre at Essington’s accelerated senior campus, situated at Charles Darwin University.

Keys to success

Leadership and vision have been lynch pins in achieving Asia capable innovations. The Principal has long been committed to creating an international mindset and sees this as a core part of the learning experience.

“We aim to engender an appreciation of the opportunities and variety that lie beyond Australia’s shores,” says Cannon.

Students' achievements

Student responses to the Singapore experience have been enthusiastic.

“The Singapore work experience program opened my eyes to the possibilities of working in Asia,” says Lachlan, a recently returned Essington student. “It also introduced me to all of the different jobs available.”

Like many of his cohort, it had never occurred to Lachlan that there were so many opportunities for a varied working life.

Other students, Natasha and Katrina, have already made decisions to live and work in Asia after they finish school.

Reflecting on the Singapore work experience, Cannon says the trips “really changes lives”.

“The Singapore work experience program opens the students’ hearts and minds to the opportunity. They gain so much and the international exposure is so incredible at a time when they are still forming ideas about what they want to do and achieve in life. You really see an amazing transformation in them.” 

Principal, David Cannon, particpated in the 2008-09 Leading 21st Century Schools: Engage with Asia Programme.


Image: AEF

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