Parramatta schoolboys take up tools

Boy zone: Year 5 pupils Aro Bier, Tarek Hamzy, Joshua Harding and Shayan Rezaie, all 10, fix bicycles at their school's Boys Shed. Picture: Gene Ramirez

Boy zone: Year 5 pupils Aro Bier, Tarek Hamzy, Joshua Harding and Shayan Rezaie, all 10, fix bicycles at their school's Boys Shed. Picture: Gene Ramirez

Wheels are turning smoothly at Parramatta West Public School's Boys Shed.

Deputy principal Thanh Ta set up the project with the help of the Regents Park Men's Shed two years ago to provide a space for boys to use tools, stay engaged in learning and meet with positive male role models.

"If they wanted to build a bike we'd build a bike, if they wanted to build a billy cart we'd build a billy cart," he said.

"There are not a lot of male role models in schools, and we know in our school community there are a lot of single mums who do not have the role models at home for their young sons so it's important.

"I think it's also working as an incentive. It's by invitation and part of the reward is that they're out of class for the last hour of school [once a week] so I'd say to them: 'Before I talk to your teacher you need to show improvement in your homework and what you're doing in class'."

Representatives from primary and high schools in The Hills Council area, Parramatta Men's Shed and education and industry partnership builders AusSIP visited the school on Tuesday to see how the project could work at other schools.

"We have some students in years 9 and 10 who could do with some additional support in engaging with learning in general," Cumberland High School deputy principal Philip Wood said.

"This might be a real winner."

Year 5 pupil Joshua Harding is one of eight boys in years 4 and 5 involved in a bike rebuilding project at the Boys Shed. They have decided to build benches for their school playground next.

"It's really fun, taking off the chains and spray painting," he said.

"Usually you have to sand the bike over so you can actually paint it, but first you have to take off the parts and find out which is the worst and then you try to work on that."

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