DRIVING Queensland students to new heights has always been the goal of the FOGS ARTIE Academy education program.

But in 2017, that drive for success became literal with a unique research collaboration between FOGS and the QUT School of Economics (QuBE).

QuBE and FOGS have received an Australian Research Council grant to undertake an Individualised Drivers Licence program for eligible participants in the study.

Under the research program, participating students will undergo a learner licence test and 10 hours of driving lessons with a qualified instructor, with all associated costs covered by the ARC grant.

From there, the students have the option to transition to the PCYC  Breaking the Cycle” program, gaining extra driving experience with PCYC volunteers to achieve the minimum driving hours
required to get their driver’s licence.

Azhar Potia, a PhD candidate at QUT, said the idea for the research program was born out of the years of success enjoyed by the ARTIE Academy, using a rewards program to generate improvement in school attendance and academic results.

“In previous years, there was a research project that took place where the team looked into the FOGS’ ARTIE Academy program – which at that time was using smaller rewards like sports equipment to encourage greater attendance and performance at school,” Azhar said.

“The discussion that came out of it was whether a highly valued reward could impact on how students perform.

“It is a very strong collaboration between the PCYC, FOGS and QUT. Even though it is a research project, it is also something that is highly practical because we are directly able to help these kids improve their lives.

“There are two stages to the project. The first will be to look at short-term outcomes like attendance rates. The second phase will look at longer term outcomes, and could potentially take another two years to complete.”

Over 50 students from Rockhampton and Rockhampton North State High Schools in central Queensland, and Morayfield State High School and Bundamba Secondary College in the south-east, are participating in the research.

Students who achieved their Challenge goal of 90 per cent Physical Attendance for Term 3 were eligible to take part in Stage 1 – the Learner Licence workshop and test – with a 100 per cent success rate of students passing.

The students will now take part in completing 10 hours of driving instruction before moving onto the PCYC “Breaking the Cycle” program to help them build up their 100 hours of experience behind the wheel before sitting for their driver’s licence in 2018.

Shaylah Grimmett, one of the ARTIE Academy students participating in the research, said the students were happy to embrace the opportunity the collaboration between FOGS and QUT had provided.

“It makes it a whole lot easier,” Shaylah said. “Having a program like this helps me a lot because you don’t have to go through everything alone.

“It is worth coming to school to get a reward like this and it means I have an opportunity now that I didn’t have before.

“A lot more students would come to school more often if this program was always available.”