The SEDA senior secondary students in our Simonds Building and Trade Program have had a busy term 4 so far. We dropped in this week to see the final touches go onto one of their year-long projects: a collection of awesome cubby houses.

Following the success of 2015’s Lion Garden courtyard upgrade for Melbourne City Mission, the students are working on a series of new community-based builds – including a deck and BBQ area for Melbourne City Mission in North Fitzroy and new play equipment for the Jackson School in St Albans.


When we visited, the program 2 students were hard at it in the AGA Trade Training Centre at Deer Park, adding roofs to their cubbies.


A quick group shot before the roof goes on. On the left you can see the almost-finished product. One of the cubbies has already been donated to the Jackson School, which provides an innovative learning environment for children with mild intellectual disabilities.


Spot Builders Academy trainer Danny O’Connell in this picture — almost out of frame but always on hand with advice. He says he’s been enjoying the process: “The cubbies are a great project to get our students learning skills and seeing what they’re good at, but also they’re getting out there in the community and building something that’s going to help.”


Danny explains, “The practical and theory components they do with us give the students a basic foundation at a pre-apprenticeship stage. This course is predominantly carpentry based. You’ll have students that think ‘carpentry is not for me’ but that’s kinda good in a way because it helps them decide on a pathway. That student might decide to become an electrician or a plumber.”


Trainer Paul Payet explains that the cubbies project has a range of learning outcomes: “This project has been going for some time. We’ve done a lot of things: using different tools and using different methods of construction. Also, the students learn the skill of interacting on site with one another. It’s a big thing to learn, how to communicate.”


“It’s been exciting to see how they all find what they are really good at – their strengths and what they love doing. I find that really rewarding. For me, I like finding out what a student enjoys and helping them along a pathway.”


Paul explains that the initial plans for the cubbies came from Builders Academy HQ. “At the beginning we sit down and talk about how many nails we will need, how many screws we will need. We also get the students to work out the metrics, and the maths behind it. Then we build it here and take it out on site into the community.”


“Whoever gets it is going to love this cubby!”


The Building and Trade Program students are completing their VCAL (year 12 equivalent) and also undertaking a 22216VIC Certificate II in Building & Construction Pre-Apprenticeship.


Trainer Paul Payet describes the program as a pathway: “It connects finishing year 11 or 12 with getting a trade, and the certificate II is about finding a pathway into the industry.”


Thanks for having us, team. Congrats on a job well done!

The Simonds Building and Trade Program is a joint initiative between SEDA, Builders Academy Australia and Simonds Group, specifically designed to engage year 11 and 12 students in their education while creating pathways to apprenticeships in building and construction.