Award winning school opens on Tomaree Peninsular

17 October 2017

A senior college that specialises in giving young people a second chance at completing their high school studies is open for enrolments on the Tomaree peninsular.

WEA Hunter has announced that an Alesco Senior College will operate on the Tomaree Peninsular giving local students an opportunity to complete secondary school qualifications. The college is located within the PCYC Port Stephens in Austral Street Nelson Bay.

Alesco Senior College campuses are currently located at Newcastle, Tuncurry, Cessnock and Raymond Terrace and are registered and accredited schools that provide an alternative learning environment for young people wanting to complete years 9 to 12.

Typically students of Alesco have not been able to connect with traditional schooling, are at risk, or vulnerable. Alesco Senior College provides young people who are unlikely to find success in a traditional school environment with a safe and supportive environment in an adult learning framework. Clearly the model works for many students.

WEA Hunter CEO, Rowan Cox, said that a partnership with PCYC , Council and the community has resulted in great education outcomes for local teenagers.

“We have been working closely with PCYC and Council to develop a new colocation model for the college. This partnership with PCYC provides a logical and supportive arrangement that is all about providing the right educational outcomes for young people,” Ms Cox said.

“The addition of Alesco into the education landscape in Port Stephens offers an alternative way for young people to engage in educational pathways. The model is based around ensuring that barriers to completing secondary education are limited,” she said.

Alesco Senior Colleges Principal, Theresa Pantalone, said that the new campus would provide greater access to learning by providing convenience.

“We know from Council, Police and our community leaders that one of the barriers for young people is convenience and accessing education in ways that make sense to them. Alesco has a proven track record spanning more than 17 years of successfully delivering education outcomes to hundreds of young people,” Ms Pantalone said.

NSW Government supports Alesco growth

9 October 2017
Alesco Senior College, Raymond Terrace Campus has received $49,200 from the NSW Government to renovate a new campus building.

Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald MLC welcomed the announcement when he visited the existing and proposed site of the Alesco College in Raymond Terrace on Monday 9 October 2017.

The funding has been provided through Round Three of the Government’s Social Housing Community Improvement Fund (SHCIF) and will fund the construction of new purpose built amenities. In 2018 WEA Hunter will open the doors of a new premises that will accommodate WEA Hunter’s college and Alesco School.

WEA Hunter CEO, Rowan Cox, said that WEA Hunter had been actively planned the expansion of services at Raymond Terrace for more than three years

“The grant will support the growth of a new campus due to open in 2018. Alesco Senior College has been supporting vulnerable young people complete Year 9 and 10 in the area for the past three years. With the development of a larger premises Alesco will be able to offer student opportunities to complete their HSC and also provide vocational opportunities for the wider community from Raymond Terrace. We are most grateful to Mr MacDonald, Minister Pru Goward and the NSW Government,” Ms Cox said.

Alesco Senior Colleges Principal, Theresa Pantalone, said that the new premises would provide greater access to learning by providing more suitable accommodation and facilities.

“The new premises will include more classrooms, open learning spaces and WiFi connectivity. Work is due to begin later this year,” Ms Pantalone said.

Scot MacDonald said that funding from the SHCIF was designed to improve community facilities while bringing neighbours and the wider community together.

“I am pleased that Alesco Senior College in Raymond Terrace will be assisted through this great government initiative,” Mr MacDonald said.

Principal of Alesco Senior College receives Scholarship

Date posted 20.06.17

Congratulations to our Principal of Alesco Senior College, Theresa Pantalone, who was awarded the prestigious Meikle Files Black Leadership Development Program Scholarship.
The scholarship awards recipients a place in the program, which is designed for high performing leaders to better understand human psychology, behaviour and performance.

The scholarship recognises outstanding leaders who have a big influence on others in their organisation and the not-for-profit sector.

Well done Theresa, your hard work has been deservedly acknowledged!

Passion for Education attracts Nikki to WEA Hunter

Date posted 01.06.17

A career in the military, educational and compliance is behind the latest recruit to WEA Hunter’s senior management team.

Nicola Bartlett has been appointed as the Senior Education Services Manager of the Hunter based educational and training organisation.

Nikki established her love of the education sector when she studied at university and then became a lecturer in the United Kingdom. She then joined the Royal Air Force where she spent 18 years working across military theatres around the globe specialising in logistics.

After moving to Australia almost nine years ago, Nikki worked in compliance for the energy, community and training sectors at a number of local and national organisations where she was again able to connect with her professional passion for vocational educational and training.

On joining WEA Hunter, Nikki said that her experience both in Australia and as part of the British military brings great skills to WEA Hunter.

“My experience has been very much in community based organisations like WEA Hunter. With a changing educational and training landscape, WEA Hunter is well positioned to provide quality learning options in niche education and now into higher education platforms,” Ms Bartlett said.

WEA Hunter CEO, Rowan Cox, said that Nikki had taken a new role for the organisation.
“The role of Senior Education Services Manager was created to support WEA Hunter's further move into higher education while also working closely with our community to develop tailor-made education and training program,” Ms Cox said.

“Nikki is a great addition to our team of more than 60 permanent staff and 200 trainers and will be most valuable in helping us remain customer and community focused,” she said.

Alesco Senior College – WINNER at the Australian Financial Literacy Awards

Date posted 21.04.17

The Financial Literacy Australia (FLA) Awards celebrate the outstanding achievements of organisations that work to improve Australian’s financial literacy. The Awards were held at the Royal Yacht Club in Sydney and Alesco Senior College received the Outstanding Achievement Award in the Small Group Category.
The Alesco Financial Literacy program focuses on increasing the financial literacy skills of our students. The program runs throughout all of our campuses and gives students practical exposure to the running of ‘real’ businesses, as well as improve financial literacy and money management skills of the students. Campuses have developed individual ‘business ideas’ dependent on the environmental differences of their campuses and range from Cafés to candle making. Students are able to earn Alesco dollars from working in the business to use at Formals and other school functions, whilst the administration/bookkeeping component of the business is managed in Commerce/Math classes.

To see photos of the night, please Click here

ANZAC Day Ceremony

Alesco Senior College is holding their annual ANZAC Day ceremony.

This is the chance for the colleges staff and students to pay respects and commemorate all those who served and died in all wars, conflicts and peacekeeping activities.

Where: 100 Laman St Cooks Hill

When: Thursday 27th April 2017

Time: 10am

RSVP: to Grant Dennis by Tuesday 18th April on 02 4925 4200 or email

WEA Hunter Notice of AGM

The AGM of the Workers' Educational Association, Hunter will be held on Thursday 27th April 2017 at 6.30pm at the Multipurpose Hall, 100 Laman Street Cooks Hill.

The business of the meeting will include:

• Consideration of the Annual Report and Audited Annual Statement of Accounts
• Election of Chair, Deputy Chair & Directors
• Appointment of Auditor
• Consideration of Special Resolutions
• Admission of Life Member(s)

Dinner will be provided at the meeting.

For catering purposes, please RSVP to Belinda Herrera by Thursday 20th April on 02 4925 4206 or email

Calvary and WEA Hunter partner to provide pre-vocational aged care training program

Date posted: 27.03.17

Calvary Cessnock Retirement Community alongside WEA Hunter are delivering an integrated, pre-vocational aged care training program. The program is designed to assist suitable persons to gain entry into the aged care industry. Participants will undertake 3 units of competency from CHC33015 Certificate III in Individual Support and 2 units of competency from FSK20113 Certificate II in Skills for Work and Vocational Pathways.

The program will run for 9 weeks and on completion the successful graduates may be offered the opportunity to complete the full CHC33015 Certificate III Individual Support (ageing) qualification as a Calvary Cessnock trainee. The pre-vocational training component of the program is subsidised by the NSW Government under its Smart and Skilled initiative.

2 groups of students have been given the opportunity to participate in the program. Throughout the course students undertake 60 hours of work placement which commences in week 5 of their program. Students will be partnered with Calvary Cessnock mentors throughout the placement.

Calvary Cessnock General Manager Kristin Smith said “This program is about finding individuals that want to make a difference in our Resident's lives. You have to love working with older people and you have to have a can do attitude. The pre-vocational program allows both Calvary and the individual to decide if the aged care industry is for them. We have had many trainees go on to full employment in the industry or further their studies as a Registered Nurse”. She added, “There are so many great applicants this year and it will be hard to narrow the list down”.

Kylie Williams, Acting Education Unit Senior Officer for WEA Hunter said “This pre- vocational course gives you a starting point not just in the aged care industry but across the community and disability sector. It is a great initiative for education and employment in the Cessnock region”.

Click here to view a recent article from Calvary Care.

Alesco Senior College delivers mural for Raymond Terrace crisis accommodation

Date posted: 23.03.17

Students who have endured their own battles have come to the aid of women and children in their darkest hour with an art project.

The Alesco School students helped put some finishing touches on the crisis accommodation unit in Raymond Terrace.

Families fleeing dometic violence will be greeted by a soothing mural with an underwater theme.

Raymond Terrace campus coordinator and teacher Justin Henderson said his students had struggled in mainstream education, particularly with anxiety.

Pushed to the fringe of the community, Mr Henderson said this project fostered the very inclusive ideals the school strives for.

“We try to get our children involved as much as we can in the community,” he said.

"It’s important that the students can feel part of the community and important they are seen in these projects."

The unit has been a joint project between Port Stephens Council, Port Stephens police and Port Stephens Family and Neighbourhood Services.

“We've been liaising with the Port Stephens local area command for a couple of years,” Mr Henderson said.

"We were looking for the right project for the right mix of students. When the police said they wanted a mural, we found it."

WEA executive director and Alesco co-founder Rowan Cox said the school, which began in Newcastle, has experienced growth across the region – rising from 65 to 245 in three years.

“We're a community-based independent school for at-risk children,” Ms Cox said.

"We’ll be opening a school at Tomaree soon and it’s recognition that we’re working really well with students in the community."

Delivered through WEA the school blends academic studies and case management within a community-based adult learning environment.

It is an example of formal education within a non formal or non institutional environment where the school aims to promote education as a priority for young people, as well as helping to create better future citizens through the development of the values of respect and responsibility for themselves and others around them.

Click here to view a recent article from the Port Stephens Examiner

The Village Project – Young Mums program changing lives

Date posted: 08.03.2017

The Village is a program that offers a fully funded certificate II in Skills for Work and Vocational Pathways to young mum’s and women who are struggling to find a way to reconnect with their education. Participants have dropped out of school to have children, or may be experiencing issues with their mental health and home life. It is an educational space for young women to socially engage, set goals for the future and complete a Certificate II. The Village provides young women with the opportunity to engage with future educational and employment pathways.
The Village currently runs at Raymond Terrace, Kurri Kurri and Cessnock, and will be expanding throughout 2017. The Certificate also provides for hands on hospitality experience and participants at Raymond Terrace manage the Raymond Terrace Library Café every Tuesday.

The Village is much more than a Certificate II in Skills for Work and Vocational Pathways. It is opportunity being created, it is goals becoming tangible, and it is a safe space for young women to share stories, support each other and see their potential. If these young women have a dream, the Village will be the stepping stone to a new reality. Through support, consistency and education the Village has the ability to transforms lives and strengthen the fabric of our community. Women who desire education have the power to become fierce agents of change. Women who can teach their children that there is dignity in perseverance, strength in overcoming challenges, and hope in education.

The program will enable young women to create opportunities for their future. It provides a foundation on which they can grow, begin to change their lives, and create a better future for their children. It will seek to break generational cycles of unemployment by empowering mums to show their children the importance of education and creating goals.

Click here to view a recent article from NBN News.

WEA Hunter Board appoints new Directors

Brian Doyle OAM, Samantha Atkin and Christopher Seysener have been appointed Directors of the WEA Hunter Board.

Brian Doyle is a former owner/partner of Turnbull Hill Lawyers of Charlestown and was recently awarded the Medal of Australia for his service to the law and his community. He has more than five decades experience as a lawyer and is well known for his tireless charity work for organisations including Life Education, Hunter Youth Mentoring Collaborative and the Hunter Academy of Sport.

Samantha Atkin is a Chartered Accountant who has worked in the mining and industrial sectors for more than 15 years and is currently working at WesTrac. She specialises in financial representation, project management, financial management and reporting.

Chris Seysener is an IT executive who is highly experienced in transformational change, IT strategy and governance and service delivery optimisation. He is the Chief Information Officer and General manager Business Services with Hunter Valley Coal Chain Coordinator (HVCCC) and has worked with AMP, Allianze, Arium and Endeavour Energy.

They join Chairman Martin Coates and directors, Ben Grushka, Meg McNaughton, Merran Magill, Peter Hill, Megan Lugg and Anna Starrett.

WEA Hunter Chairman, Martin Coates, said that each brought significant skills and experience to the organisation’s governance platform.

‘They will be critical in developing sustainable business approaches that allow WEA Hunter to continue its expansion into specialist skills, education and vocational education training,’ Mr Coates said.