By Jeremy Rochow
Last updated on: November 30, 2018 at 12:29 pm
Findon High School student Forrest Martindale only attended a handful of his classes in year 8 and 9, and his teachers didn’t expect him to graduate. Now, he’s finished year 12 and will receive his SACE certificate – something he says wouldn’t have been possible without a RAA driver education scholarship.
Forrest, 18, was 1 of 24 students from Findon and Seaton high schools to take part in RAA and Western Futures’ Driver Education Scholarship pilot program this year.
A 12-month program at Seaton and 6-month program at Findon High School provided students facing some common challenges, including limited access to a vehicle or regular driving time with parents, with fully funded driving lessons with qualified RAA instructors.
Forrest said it helped him complete more supervised driving hours, finish his studies and find employment at McDonald’s.
“It’s been a really a good journey so far, because it’s given me structure,” Forrest said.
“I think it’s really helped me get a job, and even in the future, it’s going to help me. If I have a driver’s licence, people are more likely to think I’m a reliable asset to the company.”
Following the launch of a pilot driver ed program at Seaton High in January, a new program commenced at Findon High School – with 6 students taking part – in June after the school received a Western Futures grant.
Findon High School teacher Karla Huffa said she’d seen first-hand the positive changes in her students’ approach to school since they started the program.
“[In Forrest’s case], the program is going to make him more mobile, independent and it could change his life,” she said.
“It’s great seeing them all make such rapid progress in such a short period of time, and hearing them come back from their lessons talking about the new skills they’ve signed off.”
Expanding the program
Following the success of the year-long trial, RAA has now officially launched the $350,000 Licence to Work program, which will continue to be rolled out to students at Seaton High, Findon High and, in addition, Le Fevre High in 2019.
Over the next 3 years, 90 students will be able to undertake the 75 hours of supervised driving required for learner drivers to progress to their provisional licence.
RAA Senior Manager of Community Engagement, Ben Haythorpe, said getting your driver’s licence was much more demanding than it used to be.
“It’s great in terms of driver training and safety, but it can also present a barrier for young people,” Mr Haythorpe said.
“The new Licence to Work program will make it easier for young people to get their P plates while equipping them with the critical skills they need to ensure they are safe drivers from day one.”
Stay tuned in the new year for more news on RAA’s Licence to Work program.