Ourschool’s response to COVID-19

Caroline Milburn, Ourschool’s CEO, has released the following statement about Ourschool’s response to the coronavirus outbreak:

“These are hard times for schools. More than ever it’s important for students and teachers to feel they belong to a supportive community.

“At Ourschool we’re continuing our work building supportive alumni networks for public high schools and we’re adjusting our program delivery to ensure the health and wellbeing of the people we work with.

“Here’s a brief update on how we’re responding to the coronavirus outbreak:

  • We are following government health advice about social distancing
  • Ourschool staff are working remotely
  • We are rescheduling alumni sessions or planning to convert them to online webinars where possible
  • We are reducing face-to-face meetings to a minimum, using phone, email and other online tools to communicate with alumni, teachers and school leaders
  • We’re continuing to grow and engage with each school’s alumni community via our online communications

“We’re also keeping up to date with government health department advice about the coronavirus.

“Thanks to the personal daily relationships we’ve built with teachers at our partner schools, we’ll continue to liaise closely with them to help them in any way we can.

“If public high schools do close for an extended period, we’ll be in a good position to work closely with them and offer to bring inspirational alumni into the virtual classroom.”

Global recognition for Ourschool

An article about Ourschool was featured recently in a publication by inHive, an international organisation working with partners worldwide to strengthen young people’s access to strong networks and relatable role models. Here is the article:

Australia’s first non-profit alumni program for secondary schools! 
Ourschool, Australia’s only not-for-profit alumni program for state secondary schools transitions from its initial two year pilot to a not-for profit company whose sole purpose is helping public high schools build their alumni networks to benefit students and their school communities.
In supporting this fantastic transition, we celebrate its achievements to date: 
  • Working with nine city, suburban and rural public high schools in Victoria
  • 8000+ students (mainly Years 9-12) have taken part in alumni career pathways sessions
  • 210+ alumni career pathways sessions held by Ourschool
  • 440+ alumni volunteers took part in these sessions
  • 4,600+ alumni connected to their schools and the program
  • 104 student work experience placements offered by alumni
  • three student scholarships established, three fundraising school projects involving alumni
  • Helping another 10 schools start an alumni program via their workshop service
  • Created jobs for young alumni at their old schools

Ourschool links industry with schools at Peter Mac

More than 120 public high school students from regional and Melbourne schools involved in the Ourschool program have gained an insider’s view of what it takes to get a job at one of Australia’s leading cancer research hospitals.

Ourschool founder Caroline Milburn introducing the session in the Peter Mac theatre

The career pathways session at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in North Melbourne was the biggest high school information session the centre’s Radiation Therapy Education team has ever hosted.

Ourschool co-hosted the event with the team, inviting Year 10 and 11 students interested in careers in health and medical science to attend the session.
Peter MacCallum staff from different fields – Radiation Therapy, Clinical Education, Nuclear Medicine Technology, Radiation Oncology, and ICT Program Management – described what they do in a typical day at work and shared their stories about the study and career paths they’ve taken since leaving school.

Hugh Morgan, a Nuclear Medicine Technologist, said he enjoyed giving students an insight into his job and how it helps patients. He said bringing students and practitioners together in a workplace was a practical way to inspire students about future job possibilities.

“This is such a great initiative,” Mr Morgan said. “I only wish I’d been able to attend something similar as a Year 10 or 11 student. Thanks to all the students for listening to us.”

Nick Hardcastle, a medical physicist, chatted to groups of students interested in his area of medical research. “The students were really switched on and engaged in the session,” he said. “The future is in good hands.”

Students from the following schools attended the event – Geelong High School, Matthew Flinders Girls’ Secondary College, Phoenix College, Ballarat, Bendigo Senior Secondary College, Sunshine College, Keysborough College, Fountain Gate Secondary College and Mt Waverley Secondary College.

Opening corporate doors for public school teenagers

Tracey and Peter at KPMG’s Melbourne office.

Peter Raftopoulos, credit controller at KPMG Australia, is giving back to his community and inspiring young people by taking part in Ourschool.

Peter, an alum of Springvale High School, which is now Keysborough College, recently hosted two Year 10 work experience students from Keysborough College. He also held a seminar at KPMG’s Melbourne office for a Year 11 accounting class from his old school and has returned to Keysborough College to take part in an alumni career pathways session.

This is what Peter, and Tracy, one of the Year 10 students, said about the work experience week:

Peter: “I wanted to provide a work experience placement through the Ourschool alumni program because I thought it would be a great opportunity to give back to my school and also to be able to mentor public high school students who really want to come into a Big Four accounting firm in the future after completing their studies.

“I remember as a young person myself, I had an older brother who worked at KPMG, and on occasion after my school day I would catch the train into the city and go to his office, which was so empowering as a young person to see the inner workings of a large firm. So this program is a great opportunity to show other young people, that they too, from a public school, can have the same opportunities as private school students do.

“Even within my workplace at KPMG, there are so many diverse jobs that young people can aspire to, ranging from accountants, consultants, finance and IT support staff, secretaries, even catering staff.

“It’s a wonderful environment and I feel it’s a privilege to be a mentor to these students via the alumni program.”

Tracy: “I wanted to do work experience at KPMG through the alumni program because it felt like it was a good opportunity for my future. I’ve observed and learned about what they do at KPMG. I like the flexibility of the workplace, the flexible working hours and how everyone is so friendly.

“I thought everyone might not be so approachable but it’s the opposite.

“If I didn’t have this opportunity through the alumni program, I probably would have done work experience at a primary school because my mum wanted me to be a teacher. But that wouldn’t have suited me because I’m really interested in business.”

Ourschool’s Nobel prize-winning friend

Excitement about Ourshool is growing, with more than 160 people attending an Ourschool friends’ event at PwC.

Photo: Panel discussion at Ourschool Friends’ event at PwC, Melbourne

The event was held to celebrate Ourschool’s achievements in our first 22 months of existence and to thank our generous supporters.

Our special guest was Nobel Prize winner and scientist, Professor Peter Doherty. Professor Doherty is a proud public high school alum and a strong advocate of the benefits of a public school education.

Professor Doherty took part in a panel discussion with public high school alumni guests who’ve been involved in Ourschool. His fellow panellists were Manisha Blencowe, a lawyer and Princes Hill Secondary College alum, Jenny Liao, a psychologist and Mt Waverley Secondary College alum and Paul Broecker, Assistant Principal of Fountain Gate Secondary College.

The panel was hosted by Shaun Carney, author and journalist, who is a Monteray High School alum.

Our guests spoke about the importance of their public school education and the opportunities that vibrant alumni networks can provide to public high school students and school communities.

Ourschool features in parliament

Thank you to Gary Maas for mentioning Ourschool in his maiden speech to the Victorian parliament.

Video: Gary Maas maiden speech in parliament

Gary is the new MP for Narre Warren South. He’s a Keysborough College alum (Springvale High) who’s been involved in our alumni program at Keysborough, helping to inspire public school students and provide work experience.

Ourschool makes the news

Herald Sun Ourschool Article

A feature article about Ourschool’s work appeared in the Herald Sun newspaper on Saturday 1 December, 2018. If you’re a subscriber to the newspaper, you can read a digital copy of the article by clicking here:  How the old school tie is making its mark in the public system

The newspaper has a solid paywall so non-subscribers can’t access the link. However, the accompanying photo shows the article as it appeared in the newspaper.

Returning to school, an alum inspires others

22-6-18 Brent Novak general manager Flight Centre Travel Group and Ali

Photo: Brent Novak, General Manager at Flight Centre and Ali

Brent Novak’s participation in an Ourschool alumni session at Sunshine College led him to offer a work experience placement to Ali, a Year 10 student.  Brent, General Manager of Flight Centre Travel Group, and Ali, discuss what that placement meant to them:

BRENT: “When I came back to the school a few months ago to speak to the students I didn’t have any intention of taking on a work experience person. But after meeting Ali and seeing his determination to succeed I thought it would be good to give him the opportunity to see how a large business operates.

“In hindsight I’ve got more out of the work experience week than Ali has. Because it not only reconnects you to your own childhood and aspirations when growing up. It also connects you to hearing how the younger generation are trying to better themselves and forge their own career paths.”

ALI: “It’s been one of the most incredible weeks of my life. I’ve learnt a lot, I’ve learnt about finance, marketing, how to have meetings – meetings discussing issues and challenges that might arise at work.

“I’ve learnt in order to run a big company like this you need to be good with your staff. That’s something that Brent does. He’s polite with staff, he’s got a certain connection with them. . . He makes the workplace a fun place.

“A student might sometimes think that because I live in Sunshine I might not get far but seeing some of the alumni in the alumni program is very encouraging. When I saw Brent come in I was very surprised.  It made me think, ‘Wow, I can do something’. It gives students hope; it shows us that we can be something. It gives us motivation.”