Changes to student learning

National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN)

Education Ministers have decided that NAPLAN testing will not proceed for 2020. Read the Education Council announcement from 20 March

Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE)

VCE written exams will begin on Monday 9 November. Exams will be completed by Wednesday 2 December, allowing ATAR scores to be calculated and VCE and VCAL students to get their results before the end of 2020. 

Stay up to date with advice from the Victorian Curriculum Assessment Authority on changes to 2020 exams and assessments, read: Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for schools and educators

Vocational education and training (VET)

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has provided updated advice on physical distancing relevant to Registered Training Organisations delivering VET to secondary school students and all students directly enrolled at RTOs.

Physical distancing is recommended where possible in teaching and learning spaces operating VCE or VCAL classes, with best efforts to maintain physical distancing to be made and other strategies to reduce transmission emphasised (e.g. hand hygiene and cleaning) where not practical or appropriate.

This advice acknowledges that physical distancing is not always possible for hands on, on-campus training. Situations where physical distancing might not be practical could be where, for example, two people are required to lift a mannequin to apply bandaging, or to complete a hands-on automotive task.

An example of where physical distancing is not appropriate is where learners in a class are all school students (from either the same school or different schools) who are otherwise not required to practice physical distancing back in their schools.

In cases where physical distancing is not practical or appropriate, other strategies to reduce transmission include maintaining hand hygiene and regular cleaning, maintaining as much physical distancing as possible, and asking staff and students to stay home and get tested if they have any symptoms of the virus, even if they are mild.

Training delivered to senior secondary students at TAFE/registered training organisations (RTOs)

VCE, VCAL and VET in schools students are able to attend all classes on-site at a RTO (including non-practical classes) if required physical distancing measures can be met.

In some instances, RTOs may not be able to commence training immediately. Schools and RTOs should work together to agree to a date that students can return to on site learning as soon as possible.

Physical distancing guidance:

  • VCE or VCAL students (including VET in schools) undertaking classes at a RTO who are all from the same school are not required to adhere to physical distancing rules.
  • VCE or VCAL students (including VET in schools) undertaking classes at a non-school RTO that involve mixed cohorts from different schools are recommended to practice physical distancing measures where practicable as outlined in the links below.
  • VCE or VCAL students (including VET in schools) undertaking classes at a RTO that involve mixing with adult learners are required to practice physical distancing measures as outlined in the links below.

Schools should speak to TAFEs and RTOs to discuss training delivery options available on-site. Refer to advice on maintaining a safe learning environment within a RTO as provided by the national VET regulator, the Australian Skills Quality Authority.

Refer to Department of Health and Human Services advice on maintaining a safe learning environment for staff and students

If physical distancing requirements are not able to be met

For courses where physical distancing cannot be maintained between school students and adult learners, RTOs will need to consider either delivering components remotely or suspending training until such time as restrictions have been lifted and training can resume as normal.

Deferral and suspension

RTOs are asked by the Department to offer additional or flexible training arrangements in Term 3 and Term 4 so students can catch up on required training, as well as exploring options for delivery over the school holidays and into early 2021.

In partnership with the school, RTOs should consider changing a school student's VET enrolment, where the option exists to offer alternative VET units that contribute to the VET certificate that the student is currently enrolled in. For example, instead of offering the salon assistant unit, a business studies unit may be substituted to enable the student to complete the VET program.

The Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority has further information on additional or flexible training arrangements.

Training and work placements

The transition from secondary school to higher education or work is important for long-term outcomes. Allowing VCE and VCAL students to return to on-site schooling reduces disruption to this transition.

Read guidance on training and work placements for Term 2, 2020. This includes:

  • advice on workplace-based training for Vocational Education and Training (VET) and School Based Apprentices and Trainees (SBATs)
  • school flexibility to support students to complete VET and SBATs.

Structured workplace learning and work experience

At the direction of Victoria's Chief Health Officer, a range of physical distancing measures have been put in place to slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) within the community.

The following advice is about structured workplace learning (SWL) and work experience in this context.

Continuing SWL and work experience

Students can continue their SWL or work experience placements, if the principal is satisfied that:

Principals should consider the following in deciding whether an SWL or work experience placement for a particular student should proceed in Term 2:

  • The extent to which it would be possible and practical for a student to maintain physical distance at the placement in accordance with health advice.
  • The level of supervision an employer would reasonably be able to provide the student to ensure safety measures are adhered to.
  • The extent to which the placement could be regularly monitored by the school.
  • The personal circumstances of the student, including any medical conditions or medical advice about the student's suitability to undertake the placement.

Where these conditions cannot be met, principals should consider cancelling or deferring SWL and work experience placements until further notice (refer below).

Updated SWL guidelines and work experience guidelines

The SWL Guidelines for Employers (docx - 62.86kb) and Work Experience Guidelines for Employers (docx - 62.72kb) have been revised to include advice relating to reducing the risk of transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the workplace.

For any continuing SWL or work experience arrangements, it is recommended that schools write to employers to inform them of the revised guidelines and obtain acknowledgement that they have read them. A sample email is provided below:

To: Employer's email
Cc: School Principal's email
Dear (employer),

As you are an employer who is currently hosting, or will soon be hosting, a Work Experience or Structured Workplace Learning student, I am writing to advise you that the Department of Education and Training (DET) Work Experience/Structured Workplace Learning Guidelines for Employers [delete item that is not relevant] have been revised.

These Guidelines have been revised to include advice relating to reducing the risk of transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the workplace.

It's important that you read the revised Guidelines relevant to the arrangement type you have entered into. The revised Guidelines are available on the Department website as follows:

Work Experience Guidelines for Employers (docx - 62.72kb)

Structured Workplace Learning Guidelines for Employers (docx - 62.86kb)

Please respond to me by return email to acknowledge that you have received and read these revised guidelines.

Thank you for your support of workplace learning for our students.

Yours sincerely,

Name of Work Experience/Structured Workplace Learning Coordinator
Name of school


The above process is not required for any new SWL or work experience arrangements as schools provide copies of the SWL/Work Experience Guidelines to employers before the placements.

Student and parental engagement

For existing and new SWL and work experience placements, it is recommended that the student and the parent/guardian (if the student is under 18 years of age) complete the Additional Structured Workplace Learning Form (COVID-19) (docx - 98.98kb) or the Additional Work Experience Form (COVID-19) (docx - 99.01kb) [whichever is relevant] as an acknowledgement and agreement that COVID-19 may have changed the proposed work environment.

A copy of this form should be attached to the SWL or Work Experience Arrangement Form kept at the school (for all existing and new arrangements).

Alternate options to the provision of SWL or work experience

Where the decision has been made to defer an SWL (mandatory/non-mandatory) or work experience placement, schools can identify aspects of placements that may be undertaken remotely. For instance, a student could undertake research on industry and investigate jobs that interest them. Schools should work with employers to identify a process to capture and record student learning.

Where a mandatory SWL placement is cancelled, the school can consider substituting an alternative Unit of Competency from the Vocational Education Training (VET) certificate the student is undertaking that does not require a work placement. The TAFE or RTO will be able to provide details of relevant alternative UOCs.

For VCE Industry and Enterprise, you can find advice on alternative options for SWL during units 1, 2 and 3 where the required hours of SWL have not been met for the unit on the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA) website.

Recognition of credit for partially complete SWL

Where students have commenced their SWL, they may be able to obtain credit through SWL Recognition for reflection on their learnings in the workplace. For more information about this process of recognition contact the VCAA VET Unit at vet.vcaa@edumail.vic.gov.au

Process for the cancellation or deferral of SWL or work experience placement

The cancellation or deferral of an SWL or work experience placement takes effect by written notice from a Principal to an employer. A sample notice is provided below:

Dear (employer),

I am writing to advise you that given the current restrictions relating to COVID-19, SWL and Work Experience placements at (Name of school) will be (cancelled/ deferred) until these restrictions are lifted.

This applies to any placements that are currently in process or any new placements yet to commence. Accordingly, please note that the scheduled SWL or work experience placements of students at your workplace will not go ahead until restrictions are lifted.

I would like to thank you for your support for workplace learning for our students. If you are willing to consider the possibility for placements to be re-scheduled for later in the year, please contact (school SWL/work experience coordinator name & telephone or your local LLEN).

Yours sincerely,
Name of Principal
Name of school.

Additional information and contacts

Additional information is available on workplace learning for secondary students.

Further resources are also available for:

For further queries about SWL or work experience placements, contact the Department's Career Education Unit at career.education@education.vic.gov.au

Hands-on learning spaces

Classes held in 'hands-on' learning spaces that cater for multiple groups of students should continue to operate, noting the Victorian Chief Health Officer's advice that the risk posed to staff and students returning to on-site schooling at this time is very low.

Food technology

Strict hand hygiene should be observed by staff and students during food preparation activities.  

Shared cooking items can be sufficiently cleaned with hot soapy water and benches wiped down with a disinfectant/detergent wipe or cloth.

Sharing of food should not occur.

Art and music

Strict hand hygiene should be followed before and after use of shared equipment in art and music classes.  There is no requirement to clean every shared item between use.

Where practical, high touch shared items can be cleaned with soapy water or wiped down with a detergent/disinfectant wipe.

Interschool music activities should not take place.

Specific considerations

Sharing of musical instruments that are placed in the mouth, such as brass or woodwind instruments, should be avoided. Where used, these must be cleaned and disinfected between use.

Choir and other group music practice, including orchestra, is safe to continue, noting that reducing mixing between classes or year levels is recommended.

Science

Strict hand hygiene should be followed before and after use of shared science equipment.  There is no requirement to clean every shared item between use. Where practical, high touch shared items can be cleaned with soapy water or wiped down with a detergent/disinfectant wipe.