Category: Year 13

Here’s an additional positive outcome from doing Year 13 that’s often overlooked. Read the full article here:

A special welcome, too, to Andrew Nixon in his new role heading up this ministry. I’m praying it’s a great year of ministry with his awesome team.

If you, or someone you know, is thinking about Year 13 this year, then there’s still time to enrol. Don’t miss out on a year that changes lives forever.

Over these past few days I’ve had three independent reminders of the significance of gap years.

Firstly, whilst directing an HSC Study Conference last week, I was overwhelmed with the popularity of gap years for students finishing their Year 12 study.

Secondly, an article in yesterday morning’s Australian Financial Review made the observation that the gap year concept “is taking hold” in Australia, and that “research suggests students who take a gap year come back better prepared for study.” (p. 27)

Thirdly, and what was the primary motivation for me to write on this topic, was the recognition by our Archbishop during last night’s Presidential Address of the importance of our own Sydney Diocesan gap year program.

Read my full article at


I am thrilled to announce that from January 2008 I will become the Director of Youthworks Camping Ministries. It is a great privilege and honour to lead the outstanding team of staff across our many outdoor centres and specialist ministries throughout Sydney and New South Wales.

Mandy and I are sad to move on from our role in leading the Year 13 Gospel Gap Year course, but are confident that this groundbreaking ministry will continue to grow from strength to strength, under the hand of our great God and the wonderful staff.

In my new role I will be responsible for the overall leadership and development of the Youthworks Camping Ministry Division and the ministry programs conducted from the three main Sydney conference centres at Port Hacking, Shoalhaven and Springwood, and other locations. I will also have specific leadership over the activities at the Port Hacking Conference Centres. I will lead a team of around 100 staff, with whom I will minister to around 45,000 people throughout the year.

It is an exciting challenge, and I look forward to working alongside the outstanding team of skilled and gifted staff, at our world-class conference centres. I am amazed and impressed at the scope and depth of ministry activities performed by the Camping Division, and I look forward to building upon this terrific foundation as we continue to grow the opportunities to proclaim the gospel of Jesus to the people of NSW and beyond.

Please pray for me and Mandy as we change our ministry focus and energy. Please pray that the Camping staff would have great patience with me as I learn the ropes (literally!) and begin to fathom the depths of this extensive ministry. Pray also for Youthworks as we seek my replacement at Year 13, and as the team prepares further for the huge jump in students projected for 2008.

For more information, read the story ‘McNeill’s Mini Move’ at

The PM’s gap year push for the Australian Defense Force is a good idea. Read an article on my view at and see my media release from earlier today:


9th August, 2007

Gap year is good policy from the PM, says Anglican Youth Leader

“It would be easy to cynically dismiss the Prime Minister’s push for defence force gap year recruits as a quick fix for dwindling numbers of ADF staff. However, Howard has rightly identified the benefits of taking a ‘year off’ to help school-leavers make wise decisions about their future,” said Jodie McNeill, Director of Anglican Youthworks Year 13 Gap Year.

“For the student, it offers a break from thirteen years of study. It provides an opportunity to carefully consider the appropriate career choices, and to make sure that students make wise decisions about tertiary and vocational training,” he said  “Too many people waste their time and money commencing unsuitable courses.

“This also puts an unnecessary stress on our universities and colleges. When students pull out of courses mid-year, they rob others of the opportunity to learn, and deprive the institutions of much-needed income.

“It also places a drain upon the taxpayer. Many of these drop-outs inevitably require income support, especially due to their lack of vocational or higher educational training. Inevitably they tread water for six months, awaiting the beginning of college or university in the following year.

“More positively, when a school-leaver spends a year learning about their own strengths and weaknesses, and evaluating their vocational preferences, it helps them to begin the next year’s study with greater motivation. They study a course they want to complete, not just the course for which they earned enough marks.

“What’s more, they can take the opportunity to travel overseas, and to see how they fit into the world. There is no better way to discover the wealth of Australia than to experience the poverty of other nations.

“Our team of 26 students in the Year 13 Gospel Gap Year has just returned from Kenya, Africa. Their month-long trip has taught them lessons they would never learn in a classroom, and given them insights they could never get from the Discovery Channel.

“Yet, apart from the self-awareness benefits, a gap year allows school leavers to give something back to others. Whether it’s caring for AIDS patients in a slum in Nairobi, or caring for kids in a disability camp in Sydney, a gap year gives an opportunity to serve others. In our Year 13 program, we also teach life-skills such as first-aid, defensive driving and vocational guidance, as well as theology.

“Recruiting people into the ADF through the gap-year front-door is good policy. It allows potential defence force personnel to make sure they are suited to this specialised work by getting a real view of the military world without a long-term commitment. But, it also gives these school-leavers an opportunity to serve—something we need more of in our increasingly materialistic society.”

CONTACT :         Jodie McNeill                 0425 222 338
(Jodie McNeill is Director of the Anglican Youthworks Year 13 Gospel Gap Year)

I also enjoyed an extended interview with John Morrison on the ABC Statewide Drive program at 5:15pm today.

The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age are today running a story in the ‘Next’ IT section of their newspapers on my use of the Moodle program for our online learning at Youthworks College.

The article, titled “Use your moodle to deliver lessons” outlines the benefits of online learning, and documents some of the process by which we implemented it in our teaching.

Here is an excerpt:

Jodie McNeill, priest, lecturer and technology enthusiast, fell in love with Moodle late last year.


The open source course management system (CMS) is at the heart of Mr McNeill’s theology course for school-leavers, Year 13. Every week he uses the online system to post texts required for the following lesson.


Students must read them and complete comprehension tests before moving on. At the end, they must enter a summary and ask questions. Mr McNeill then monitors the answers and uses them to prepare his weekly face-to-face lectures.

Read the full story here.