Teachers hit the Web to help busy students

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As the cost of living continues to grow, more and more teenage students are struggling to juggle a full time education with a part time job. Now teachers are using the web to reach out and help students better understand the working world while still maintaining success at school.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, at least 89 percent of students aged 15 to 19 go to school and work a part time job, and the toll these double commitments are taking on students’ lives has become obvious to their teachers.

“We’ve had more and more teachers over the years comment that their students always seemed tired and were struggling to finish their work,” said research officer of the NSW Teachers Federation Sally Edsall. “We thought their part time work commitments might be the cause, so we decided to study it and see what we could do to help.”

From the research came studentsatwork.org.au, a free web source to help students successfully balance school and work, and provide them with resources to help them navigate the job world. It includes sections about searching and applying for jobs, dealing with problems in the workplace, and a CV builder. Edsall said the most popular feature is an interactive, Outlook-based calendar that students can update and share with friends on the site.

“I had no idea that kids had to keep up with that much stuff,” she said. “But the calendar helps them stay organised and keep track of all of their committments.”

The site features similar sections for parents, teachers, and employers to visit and learn what they can do to help students keep a good balance between school and work.

The NSW Teachers Federation has spent upwards of $100,000 on the site so far, and wants it to be used as a teaching tool across the state and one day the whole of Australia. By using a medium where teenagers already spend so much time, they hope to be able to reach that many more students.

“We’re really just trying to help students, and provide them a service, out of teaching,” Edsall said. “We don’t want to make any money out of this, we just want to give the kids a resource that will engage them and help them make good decisions.”

And with so many students giving up precious time for work, the Federation hopes that appealing to kids’ tech-savvy side will hopefully make some lives a little bit easier.

“At any given hour of the day, there’s a student working,” Edsall said. “We’ve heard stories of kids stacking groceries until 3 a.m., then having to get up for school a few hours later. We’re hoping the site can help with some of those situations.”
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