There is a lot going on in the VET in schools’ space around the country.
In Victoria VCAL is being reviewed. In South Australia they have taken a look at their VET in schools offerings too. The revisions they propose look really interesting.
VET for school students in South Australia ’revisioned’
The South Australian Department of Education has a site related to VET for school students, and that site includes access to the review. It started with a consultation process and the outcomes of that process, in summary, were that there was a negative perception of VET for school students that was common across stakeholder groups: students (You can access information from the student voices survey here), parents, career counsellors and VET coordinators, school leaders and employers. OK, that’s pretty much everyone!
Consultations found that financial and geographical barriers can also hinder access to VET for school students, particularly those in regional and remote areas. Moreover, findings suggest that the funding model is limiting and cross sector collaboration is lacking. There are also quality issues, including the availability of the necessary equipment and facilities. Better and more inclusive Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are needed for schools, as is better information on post-school destinations.
The consultation process gave rise to a policy document focussed around three pillars: clearly articulated pathways, enhanced career education and improved student outcomes, including lifting completion rates of both SACE (SA’s senior secondary certificate) and VET. This is all summarised in a short policy overview.
The articulated pathways approach includes the introduction of ‘Flexible Industry Pathways’ aligned to industry sectors; VET qualifications at Cert I to III levels, employability skills training and having their SACE linked to industry needs. The VET Readiness Orientation (VETRO) program will be used as entry gateway for students who choose to embark on a Flexible Industry Pathway. VETRO starts at year 10 and is built around career education using VET taster programs, work experience and a personal learning plan. As the policy document points out:
“VETRO will determine the student’s readiness and identify a personalised approach to the learning which may include additional training and wraparound supports.”
The review also found that “the practice of using VET courses primarily as a mechanism to improve SACE achievement and ATARs or as an engagement strategy devalues and undermines the purpose of VET” in schools.
The policy proposes a simplified funding model for VET delivered to secondary students along with new funding and delivery models for regional and remote areas “to address the challenges posed by geographical isolation and ‘thin markets’, including limited public transport, employer availability and course diversity.”
Improving student outcomes requires that the quality of VET offerings be as high as possible, and both schools and RTOs have a role in assuring that. In particular, schools need to assist students and families to understand the purpose and outcomes of the VET studies they are undertaking. In addition, schools need to ensure “that organisational structures such as timetables or off-site duty of care arrangements are compatible with, and conducive to, high-quality delivery of VET.” Strong partnerships with RTOs and “providing relevant guidelines and appropriate assistance to RTOs in understanding the school student cohort and the complexity between VET and SACE” are also vital.
Other initiatives include the use of an ePortfolio, establishing an online community for students participating in the Flexible Industry Pathways to “provide a support mechanism to help them feel a sense of community, share common experiences and support each other in the achievement of their career goals” and tracking and promoting student destinations.
Finally, the policy recognizes the importance of building staff capability, and it proposes that this will be done through professional development “targeting RTO and school personnel involved in the delivery of VET to school students (such as school leaders, VET coordinators and teachers).”
The strategy, overseen by a Ministerial Advisory Committee, will be rolled out over 2020 and 2021.