In a tiny campus in mid-north New South Wales, Jillian Ashley provides students with literacy and numeracy support as a springboard for future learning and employment.
"We want students to have successful outcomes and literacy and numeracy is the foundation," says Jillian, the Head Teacher, Education, Employment and Support and Business Faculties, Macksville TAFE.
"Sound pedagogical practice is important to vocational education and training".
Jillian's passion for students is palpable. "We have many with mental health issues or disabilities who are facing challenges with their previous learning, so supported learning is essential," says Jillian. "We make sure students feel welcomed, supported and develop a sense of â€œbelonging to place. TAFE is fantastic for that."
Jillian's area of expertise is the delivery of innovative and contextualised literacy and numeracy teaching which addresses social justice issues. The TAFE Skills for for Education and Employment program she works with delivers a Certificate I program that prepares students for a smooth transition into studies in areas such as aged care, information technology and trades.
Innovation is key. Jillian designed an Elders Introduction to Technology course, which goes beyond the teaching of basic level technology skills. Disadvantaged youth in the community help Elders improve their technology skills. In return, the Elders help youth develop a sense of pride in their community and respect for themselves, their culture and customs.
Jillian has qualifications across a range of sectors, including literacy and numeracy teaching and she holds a Masters of Arts in TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages).
Jillian was thrilled to place finalist in the 2014 Excellence in Language, Literacy, Numeracy Practice Award at the Australian Training Awards.
"It was confirmation of the professionalism of teachers and highlighted the importance of sound pedagogical practice," says Jillian. "On a personal level it was a fantastic experience and I've since delivered at a few conferences. I continue to reflect on innovating, trying new things and amending and adapting. We can't rest on our laurels."
As an Australian VET Alumni member, Jillian continues to spread the word about the importance of VET through her participation in conferences, including by sharing individual student success stories.