Rhys is a young man who isn’t afraid of hard work.
As a member of our 2019 graduating class, he’s come a long way since he enrolled with NG Central in 2017. Not only has he completed his Year 12 and sat his Science HSC exam, he’s recently been hired as a full-time landscaping apprentice. Talk about a high-achiever!
But in Rhys’s words, he didn’t always feel positive about his education and what lay beyond it. He found the traditional classroom environment challenging and craved a more practical approach.
“I found school before NGC really hard, I’d struggle to focus and I couldn’t sit and concentrate with so many people in the class.”
Because of these challenges, Rhys became involved in the Links2Learning program which delivers targeted employability and skill development initiatives to young people at risk of disengaging from and/or leaving school early. It was here that he was referred to NG Central midway through Year 10.
Rhys began to engage much more with academic learning because of increased, individualised attention from his teachers and the smaller class sizes. He also took on Horticulture as his VET subject. He had always been interested in working outdoors and after a Horticulture taster, Rhys hit the ground running in his weekly classes as he progressed towards his Certificate II.
“At NGC, you do way more hands-on work in the classroom; it’s really practical and feels like important knowledge you’ll actually use outside school. I’ve found the teachers are more tolerant and if you’re struggling with a question, they come over and help you one-on-one."
Rhys never thought reaching Year 12 would be on the cards for him, but noted how much support he has received as he worked towards this goal. With an HSC cohort much smaller than traditional schools, Rhys describes it like a family and people having your back, with the ability to access more individualised tutoring along the way. He also liked the many excursions that are part of daily life at NG Central, especially to Somersby Falls and Girrakool. Rhys jokes that he only gets into trouble when he’s bored, but when you’re out doing things and walking around the bush, you’re preoccupied and busy.
With his love of the outdoors, it’s no wonder that Rhys has found himself pursuing Horticulture after school. In fact, it only took Rhys two days after graduating to land a job trial with Vogue Pools as an apprentice landscaper. This apprenticeship opportunity comes through the group training company Trade Staff Australia. At the time of our interview, Rhys was completing the trial and only a few weeks later, he has successfully been employed!
“Landscaping has always been something I like because I enjoy working with my hands. and I’ve done some garden maintenance and labouring before.
An apprenticeship is an ideal situation because you’re learning in a really practical way. Even the TAFE component isn’t a regular classroom environment. It’s good to be active all day, it’s motivation to exercise and keep up your fitness and I like working outside."
Only a few weeks after graduating, Rhys now has his sights set on completing the four year apprenticeship, including one day of TAFE each week. Talk about good timing! When asked how he feels about finishing school, Rhys admits that it feels a bit weird to know he won’t be going back but that he feels ready for what’s next.
“I never thought I’d make it to Year 12, I thought I was going to leave in Year 10. But at NGC, it became achievable and way easier to get the help I needed. I’m proud I did it."