Review into vocational and applied learning pathways in senior secondary schooling

The Victorian Government commissioned the Review into Vocational and Applied Learning Pathways in Senior Secondary Schooling (the Firth Review) 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

In November 2020, the Victorian Government published the final report of the Firth Review.

For more information about senior secondary certificate reform work in progress, support for schools, community consultation and engagement, and existing Department programs, visit Senior secondary schooling pathway reforms.

Major findings and recommendations of the Review

The Firth Review found that high-quality vocational and applied learning programs are already supporting some students to achieve excellent outcomes and be as prepared as they can be for their post-school lives.

However, the Firth Review found that we need to do more to make vocational and applied learning in schools high quality, highly regarded, relevant to the needs of students and employers, and available to all. Major changes are needed to make sure all Victorian secondary students have greater access to high quality vocational training that meets their strengths and interests, leads them into further training and education, and a great job.

Key recommendations of the Firth Review:

  • Victoria should move to an integrated senior secondary certificate, with vocational education embedded in the VCE. This certificate will replace, and build on the successes of, the existing standalone VCAL certificate. This will support students to develop both academic and practical skills.
  • Vocational Education and Training (VET) Delivered in Secondary Schools should be more closely aligned with Victoria's growth sectors and local industry needs.
  • VET should be available to every senior secondary student, enabling students to mix general and vocational education, gain qualifications for all types of employment, and develop specific technical skills they most need for success in work and life with a focus on work-based learning.
  • A new foundation pathways certificate should be created to formally recognise the skills and achievements of students who are not ready to complete the VCE. This will support those students to make successful post-school transitions.
  • 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.
  • Schools should receive more support to deliver vocational and applied learning. This can be achieved through improving the capability of teachers and reducing operational and administrative burdens on schools.

Review into vocational and applied learning pathways in senior secondary schooling: final report

Victorian Government response

The Government accepted in-principle all 38 recommendations and committed to transforming the delivery of senior secondary education by:

  • Lifting the quality and perception of vocational education
  • Helping more students access high-quality applied learning programs, and
  • Providing students with a vocational pathway that gives them the skills they need to move successfully into further training and jobs post-school.

These reforms will aim to provide every senior secondary student with access to high-quality vocational and applied learning by moving to an integrated senior secondary certificate, with vocational education embedded in the VCE.

The Department of Education and Training, the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA) and the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority are working closely with stakeholders to implement changes which will result in an improved senior secondary experience. These changes include moving to an integrated senior secondary certificate, with vocational education embedded in the VCE, and development of a new foundation pathways certificate.

Vocational and applied learning pathways review: Victorian Government response – November 2020

More information

For more information about senior secondary certificate reform work in progress, support for schools, community consultation and engagement, and existing Department programs, visit Senior secondary schooling pathway reforms

For information on arrangements to transition to the new certificate, visit the VCAA website.

To have your say on the transformation of senior secondary schooling for Victorian students, visit https://engage.vic.gov.au/consultation-senior-secondary-reform

You can also contact us at pathways.reform@education