July 9, 2013

A TAFE story ...

By Cath

Today, in my role as a Social Worker I needed to liaise with the head of department at one of our major TAFEs regarding a student who was having a lot of difficulty.
I frequently have to assist university students who become unwell and need to organise special consideration or a break from their studies. It usually involves multiple contacts - phone calls and emails over a period of several days. Universities are usually pretty good at helping students in need but it's an anonymous process and involves a lot of red tape and requires a lot of additional work from my end.
I was expecting this to be an administrative nightmare as I usually deal with universities and sometimes the brick walls and red tape can be extremely frustrating and time consuming.
But I was dealing with someone from TAFE. Someone who works with smaller class sizes and is in touch with the students.

I was so privileged to speak with a wonderful head of department who knew the student by name, had spoken with the student's mother and was able to (of course with consent) provide me with a great deal of information that can help me and our team help the student.

She was aware that this student was showing signs of struggling and becoming increasingly unwell. The staff at TAFE promptly realised there was a problem. If this student was at a university, in a huge class, she would probably have fallen through the cracks and her special needs would not have been recognised until they reached a crisis point. But she was at TAFE and the staff there were able to recognise her problems and help her sooner rather than later.

I was privileged to liaise with an extremely professional team of tertiary educators who do the most fantastic job in working with their students and I was so relieved that the department head was so aware of this student.

It was a great experience to deal with a professional from TAFE who was so aware of her students and so understanding of their needs. I am further convinced that the TAFE system provides not only an exceptionally high standard of education but an exceptionally high standard of student welfare.