If you’ve been wondering how students with strongly ‘hands-on’ subjects are managing during the COVID-19 restrictions, here are two who are powering on thanks to a handy ‘pretend’ client—the mannequin.

Year 12 VET Hair and Beauty students, Kaitlin Hill and Claudia Hardingham continue to attend their Tuesday morning TAFE sessions through remote learning.

“We have just done a unit about receiving goods and managing a stocktake,” Kaitlin says. “This is easy to do at home because it’s basically theory, but we also need to learn skills such as braiding, colouring and conditioning.”

“At first I could not even imagine how it would work,” Claudia admits, “but the teachers have supported us really well.”

The class uses a media platform called BlueJeans—a bit like zoom, so everyone can see each other. TAFE has supplied each student with a mannequin head, a stand, and tint equipment. Students also have their own equipment at home.

At an online class meeting with their teacher, Wendy, they are given directions about what needs to be achieved.

Wendy can then watch each student and offer advice in real time.

“It’s also really great to be able to watch what other students are doing and learn from each other,” Kaitlin says.

Both Kaitlin and Claudia highly recommend the course.

Claudia has found it provides a real contrast to her other subjects and says it’s a lot of fun.

Kaitlin agrees.

“Honestly, this is such a great opportunity to start my career,” she says. “I would really recommend it to anyone thinking about going into hairdressing or beauty therapy.”

Both students are hoping to go on to complete hairdressing apprenticeships.

Kaitlin hopes to own her own salon one day and work alongside people specialising in other fields of the beauty industry, while Claudia is not certain she will always remain in the beauty industry and plans to finish VCE to make sure she keeps all her options open.

The COVID-19 crisis has given everyone a crash course is adapting to change, and these students are still powering on towards their futures.

“While I think the lockdown was the right thing to do, it’s been particularly hard on Year 12s,” Kaitlin says. “But we’re still on track and we’re on our way back.”