Schools Transforming vocational education in schools

In 2019, the Victorian government commissioned the Review into vocational and applied learning pathways in senior secondary schooling.

The review looked at how effective VCAL is in supporting and preparing students to achieve successful pathways in applied and vocational learning. It acknowledged many of the success stories, but also made significant findings regarding the challenges facing students and schools in delivering VCAL.

The review made 33 recommendations. See the complete report on the Department’s website.

Some have already been implemented, including funding pathways coordinators in government schools. In the week before the Victorian budget was handed down in May, further announcements were made responding to a significant portion of the remaining recommendations. There was also a commitment to fund $277.5 million in VCAL programs, staffing and support.  

New vocational certificates

Some $120.2m was committed to creating the Vocational Major (VM) and the Victorian Pathways Certificate (VPC). These two certificates will completely replace VCAL by 2025. 

The VM will be a part of the VCE, and feature study designs modelled on the VCAL Units of Literacy, Numeracy, Personal Development and Work Related Skills. Students who complete the VM will receive a senior secondary certificate – the VCE Vocational Major. The VPC will replace Foundation VCAL.

Feedback from the profession focused on the importance of maintaining applied learning as a central tenet. This funding will also be used to release staff to develop curriculum, preparing for the implementation of Units 1 and 2 of the VM and VPC, both slated to begin in 2023. 

The AEU will continue to advocate for more release time for teachers to understand the new study designs and develop programs while still delivering the current VCAL program.

DET will also run a media campaign for students, parents and the community, raising awareness of the VM and the VPC and producing material that can be used by schools, as advocated for by the union.

The review identified TAFE as a fundamental player for VET delivery. 

Training and staffing

Another $87.9 million has been committed to increasing VET teachers’ skills. This includes 400 places to support industry professionals to take up trainer qualifications. Increasing the supply of VET practitioners is essential to the success of this reform, and the union will be active in this space.

This funding will also support current VET trainers to complete their teaching qualifications, creating 1,900 new positions. Importantly, this will be flexible.

Also, staff will be added to support regional schools in delivering VET Core offerings, with the review identifying that each school should offer a minimum set, either directly or through clusters and other networks. Schools should then offer additional VET subjects based on their resources and student interest. Importantly, the review identified TAFE as a fundamental player for VET delivery.

A further $69.4m has been allocated to expanding and improving various features of the Head Start program, including a strong focus on ensuring school-based apprenticeships.

There remains other business arising from the review. The Quality Assurance process was a hallmark of the success of the VCAL program, but has faced significant challenges. It will come into focus as students begin Units 3 and 4. Similarly, TAFE Tasters, once a successful part of vocational education, will be consulted on in 2022 to ensure they can operate again in a way that fully supports student learning.

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