Senior secondary schooling pathway reforms

The Review into Vocational and Applied Learning Pathways in Senior Secondary Schooling was commissioned by the Victorian Government in November 2019 to make recommendations for reform with two key aims:

  1. to ensure all Victorian secondary school students have access to high-quality vocational and applied learning options  
  2. to look for ways to improve transitions for students between school, post-secondary education and work.

Further information on the scope of the Review, including Term of Reference, can be found on Engage Victoria’s Review of Vocational & Applied Learning in Senior Secondary Schooling page.

Further information on the major findings, recommendations, and the Victorian Government’s response to the Review can be found on the Department’s Review of Vocational & Applied Learning in Senior Secondary Schooling page. 

The VCAA website houses more detailed information about the new certificates and reform transitions.

An improved vocational and applied learning offering

Timing for delivery of the integrated senior secondary certificate

From 2025, Victorian schools will deliver the single integrated senior secondary certificate, providing access to vocational and applied learning pathways that align with Victoria’s growth sectors and local industry needs.

The move to a single certificate will happen in stages, commencing with the new vocational specialisation in the VCE from 2023.

The final design and structure of the integrated senior secondary certificate will be developed in consultation with students, schools, employers, educators, TAFEs and other providers and. aAll stakeholders will be supported through the transition. For more information on transitions, please visit the VCAA website.

Advice to students on transition to new certificates

Many students are beginning to make decisions about their senior secondary pathways and enrolment options for 2022 and 2023. 

To support this process, the VCAA have provided an information package to school leaders, including a letter for students and a flyer for parents and students. This information is also available via the VCAA website . 

Key points include: 


  • No change to the existing certificates. Students can enrol in a Foundation, Intermediate or Senior VCAL Certificate, or the VCE 


  • All senior secondary students will be enrolled in the VCE, which includes the vocational specialisation, or in the foundation pathways certificate 
  • Students who have start their Intermediate VCAL will receive credit for their completed studies into their program in 2023 
  • Students who have partially completed Foundation VCAL will transition into the foundation pathways certificate with credit 
  • Year 12 students will be able to complete Senior VCAL curriculum as part of a ‘teach out’ of the certificate • At the satisfactory completion of those units, the students will be awarded the VCE Vocational Specialisation. This is a one-off arrangement that will apply to students completing in 2023 only. 
  • Commencing Year 11 students in 2023 will enrol in the new curriculum units designed for the VCE Vocational Specialisation. 

This approach provides assurance and clarity to 2021 Year 10 students who will be among the first cohort to receive a VCE Vocational Specialisation certificate in 2023. 

It also aims to spread the workload of teachers, allowing them to focus on the development of curriculum for Units 1 and 2 only in 2022. 

Finalised certificates and curriculum will be released in March 2022.

Purpose of the foundation pathways certificate

The foundation pathways certificate aims to deliver an enhanced, more flexible qualification to students that are unable to or not yet ready to undertake the VCE.

It provides a recognised and appropriate foundation for further training that leads to successful transitions into further study, training and employment. The certificate will commence in 2023 alongside the introduction of the vocational specialisation in the VCE.

Selection of Victorian schools to deliver the new foundation pathways certificate and vocational specialisation

In 2022 the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA) will register schools and non-school senior secondary providers to deliver the new vocational specialisation within the VCE and the foundation pathways certificate.

To ease the administrative burden the VRQA will automatically select schools and non-school providers eligible to deliver certificates substantially similar to their current registration. This means that schools and non-school providers currently registered to deliver both the VCE and all levels of VCAL will be regarded as eligible to deliver both the vocational specialisation and the foundation pathways certificates.

Schools and non-school providers not currently registered to deliver VCAL will need to register to deliver the vocational specialisation from 2023 Providers not registered to deliver Foundation VCAL will need to register to deliver the foundation pathways certificate – as is already the case for schools and providers wishing to deliver new senior secondary certificates. Further information about the VRQA registration process is available on the VRQA website.

Recognising the achievements of students unable to successfully complete a certificate

The Review also recommended that all students who fully or partially complete vocational and applied learning subjects should receive an enhanced Statement of Results to provide a full picture of their strengths, capabilities and achievements when they finish school.

An enhanced Statement of Results would enable recognition of subjects undertaken and other credentials gained during a student’s secondary years of education, which may include micro-credentials, workplace experiences and academic reports. In this way, it is expected to benefit all students, even those who do not complete a senior secondary certificate as it will encompass a full spectrum of their learning and skills attainment.

Work is underway on the design and scope of the enhanced Statement of Results and the VCAA will undertake consultation with stakeholders in the coming months.

Impact on academic standards to integrated senior secondary certificate

The same high standards that apply to VCE will be retained as part of the new senior secondary certificate and during the transition phase. No student will be disadvantaged by these changes.

Any further change to the VCE as part of a move to a more fully integrated certificate will involve extensive consultation with schools and other stakeholders, including universities.

The Differences between VCAL and vocational specialisation within VCE

The new vocational specialisation in the VCE will take the best elements of VCAL and form a pathway that helps students develop the skills they most need for success in work and life.

Students will benefit from new design features including: 

  • sequential curriculum for vocational and applied learning units with enhanced assessment and reporting 
  • new digital literacy units 
  • a more tailored industry-based curriculum 
  • an enhanced Statement of Results

The vocational specialisation will retain the strand structure used in the VCAL. This will ensure students have an appropriate breadth of study in addition to further opportunities for integrated learning, flexibility to complete units over multiple years and a focus on work-based learning.

The vocational specialisation provides an opportunity to strengthen vocational and applied learning pathways by increasing the rigour of the curriculum, enhancing assessment and reporting as well as reducing complexity.

Impact on the current suite of VCAL subjects

The Vocational Specialisation will build on the strengths of the current VCAL including the breadth of curriculum (based on the current strand structure), the flexibility in subject selection to meet the course requirements, the development of work-related skills and capabilities, and the engagement with community whilst building citizenship skills and developing social conscience in students.

New curriculum units for the Vocational Specialisation are being developed in the areas of literacy, numeracy, personal development skills (to be renamed) and work-related skills (to be renamed). These units will have a Unit 1–4 sequence remove the repetition within the current VCAL subjects. They will also have outcomes, key knowledge and key skills.

Students will also be able to include VET units and VCE units that align with their future pathway ambitions.

Stakeholders will have the opportunity to provide feedback on the draft curriculum units during public consultation that will occur in Term 3 this year via Engage Victoria.

Results from vocational specialisation and how it affects ATAR

Students undertaking the new Vocational Specialisation from 2023 will not receive an ATAR. There will not be external examinations for Vocational Specialisation units.

The new curriculum units will include specific key knowledge and key skills for each area of study as well as learning outcomes that students will need in order to demonstrate achievement to complete the unit.

Assessment for all units will be school-based and will be supported by an assessment rubric. Scaled or levelled assessment for Units 3 and 4 will initially be rolled out in 2023 in preparation for broader implementation in 2025.

Impact of changes on disengaged students or with additional needs

The current Foundation VCAL plays an important role as a completion certificate that recognises the achievements of students who are disengaged and/or have additional needs in specialist in mainstream settings.

The development of a new foundation pathways certificate is aimed at strengthening the foundation-level qualification by aligning it to the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) Level 1 and providing access to meaningful learnings programs that can bridge the gap between Victorian Curriculum F-10 and senior secondary education.

Successful completion of the foundation pathways certificate will recognise that students have attained the foundational knowledge and skills they need to transition into the senior secondary certificate, further education and training or employment.

Support for schools

Provision of professional development to teachers with transition to the new model

The VCAA will provide a range of professional learning to support teachers to implement the new certificates and curriculum. Details on these opportunities will be released in early 2022.

The Jobs, Skills and Pathways Coordination initiative

Jobs, Skills and Pathways Managers in each DET area will work with government schools to provide practical support for design and delivery of vocational and applied learning pathways. These roles will support schools to collaborate to improve quality and efficiency, including delivering more vocational and applied options to students through school clusters. 

By working directly with schools, including with Jobs, Skills and Pathways Coordinators, these expert managers will build system capacity and boost vocational learning outcomes for students, and strengthening connections with industry, RTOs and VET providers. 

Other support available to help schools deliver high quality vocational and applied learning

Grants are available for schools for short-term projects that will further boost planning, design and delivery of VET programs. Grants include includes $26.2 million funding available until June 2023 to support projects aimed at increasing the capability, supply and quality of teachers delivering VET to senior secondary students.

Investment in facilities and equipment to support the delivery of programs beyond what schools currently provide

The Victorian Government will take a staged approach to implementing the reforms set out in the review, with each stage informed by stakeholder engagement and budget considerations.

As part of the reform agenda, the Department has agreed in principle to facilitate examine equipment replacement in Trade Training Centres (TTCs) and other facilities for VDSS, supported by improved strategic planning to increase utilisation across TTCs, TAFEs and other registered training organisations.

Impact on VCAL and VET workforces by changes

Highly skilled VET and VCAL teachers and trainers play a critical role in ensuring students develop the skills and expertise they need to succeed in further education, training and, ultimately, work. 

The move to an integrated single certificate will build on the current successes of VCAL to provide students with the opportunity to develop both academic and practical skills. 

Specialist vocational and technical skills and core literacy, numeracy and work-related skills will continue to be an important part of the specialist vocational pathway in the VCE. VET and applied learning teachers and trainers are key to the development of those skills.

We’re taking a staged approach to implementation of these reforms so that we can work carefully through the changes required in partnership with schools and our vocational and applied learning workforce.

Ensuring enough skilled teachers and trainers deliver the vocational and applied learning pathways

While reforms to increase the quality and supply of VCAL and VET teachers and trainers are underway, the introduction of new certificates will be accompanied by professional learning to support existing experts and teachers new to vocational and applied learning.

The 2020/21 Budget invested $15.5 million to support accelerated pathways to teaching for graduates and career changers, including a Master of Applied Learning and Teaching program to boost the number of vocational and applied learning teachers in Victorian schools. This investment builds on a $26.2 million package of initiatives introduced in 2019 to increase the supply and quality of teachers specialising in VET and VCAL.

Community consultation and engagement

Engage Victoria dedicated website

A Senior Secondary Pathways Reform site on Engage Victoria has been launched to allow all stakeholders and members of the public to engage with and provide feedback on the reforms. Discussion papers, draft certificate designs and curriculum study units will be uploaded in progressive stages to allow stakeholders enough time to engage with the various design pieces and implementation proposals.

This Senior Secondary Pathways Reforms will involve ongoing consultation with: 

  • school leaders and teachers 
  • students 
  • parents 
  • industry 
  • the training and higher education sectors 
  • the broader community

Reference Groups and targeted consultation and activities

DET and the VCAA are establishing dedicated reference groups, including a Senior Secondary Reform Reference Group which includes the Minister for Education and school leader, VET, industry and student groups to support co-design and feedback at critical times of the design and implementation process.

DET and the VCAA are also running targeted consultation and engagement activities with individuals and groups on specific aspects of the reform agenda.

Existing vocational and applied learning programs and initiatives

More information

Further information is available at the following websites:

Department of Education and Training

Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority

Engage Victoria (to be launched June 2021)

Additionally, individuals may reach out for further information via: