CooeeGC is an Education Queensland Senior High School campus with a pathway’s focus tailored for those students with an aptitude for surfing. Currently offered at Elanora State High School, the program nurtures participants love for the ocean within a meaningful learning framework in order to develop both outstanding future citizens as well as budding grommets.
Year 11 and 12 students participating in the course complete their core subjects for their Queensland Certificate of Education and then are given the flexibility to select Certificate-based courses of their interest, to create a meaningful learning experience within a framework of surfing culture and its associated health and wellbeing benefits.
We recently had a chat with CooeeGC convener Matt Barber to discover more about the program and how it helps to develop quality students, surfers and citizens.
How did the CoooeeGC program start out and what was the inspiration behind it?
Most people have been to school. Which means most people have an opinion or an idea of what school SHOULD look like. This has been my biggest challenge the past five years with Cooee. I see the biggest growth in young people when the school community builds close connections with the wider community and when possible, our global community because that’s where the real lessons are. So for me, it came from wanting to bridge that gap, and make young people an integral part of the community. Looking for ways to build relationships and connections to people from all different walks of life and people with real expertise that will add value. Suddenly leaving school isn’t an issue because they have support networks, qualifications and confidence. It’s nice to see.
Can you describe how the surfing culture component of the course works?
The UK has some fantastic research coming out of Exeter University which supports the positive impact that the ocean has on one’s mental health. The great work from organisations such as “The Wave Project” and “International Surf Therapy Org” gives me great confidence in how Cooee approaches young people and their education. Cooee has become family to sponsored surfers, surfers who have represented their country and also the weekend warrior. The beautiful thing about the program is that they are given the opportunity to disconnect from their technology-filled lives, and reconnect with our ocean environment, and with each other. They are provided with performance coaches so they are challenging themselves, and growing in more ways than they would realise. It’s about developing a quality citizen, student and surfer.
How many kids are enrolled in the course this year and what’s the approximate gender split?
Out of the 20 students enrolled this year there are 7 females. It is refreshing to have that balance, because what I have found is, the boys really lift the girls in the water, and the girls lift the boys in the classroom.
What’s the feedback on the course been like from participants?
We received some great feedback from former surfing champion Wayne ‘Rabbit’ Bartholomew, who told us; “Since making the decision to enrol my son Keo in Cooee GC we have never looked back. Keo has suddenly had qualifications, experiences and most importantly confidence. With this confidence he could foster his love of surfing and the ocean, but also found a passion for music. The open-minded approach and personal touches are something I feel very fortunate to have my son a part of. Cooee GC is ‘Busting Down the Door’ of education.
Finally, I think a good indication of feedback is the number of students who return to Cooee just to touch base. That’s a community!
To find out more about enrolling in the CooeeGC program, head to the Elanora State High School website.