Senior secondary schooling pathway reforms


We want every Victorian student's senior secondary experience to be a positive, enjoyable and rewarding one.

Senior secondary education is about developing and realising every student's potential. Our VCE is world class and the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL) has provided a steppingstone to great jobs in growing industries.

Within senior secondary education, vocational and applied learning builds critical and creative thinking, communication skills, teamwork and collaboration, curiosity and innovation. It provides students with real-world knowledge, including about the workplace, and practical and transferrable skills.

Victoria's economy is rapidly changing, and the skills and capabilities we provide our students must meet the needs of our dynamic world. Thousands of new jobs relying on VET qualifications in community services, construction and hospitality, will drive our state's economic recovery.

The recommendations in John Firth's Review into Vocational and Applied Learning Pathways in Senior Secondary Schooling (pdf - 6.82mb) (Firth Review) provides a roadmap for reform, building on the Victorian Government's historic investment of $315.5 million in senior secondary schooling reforms since 2018.

We are working to ensure senior secondary students receive a great education, learn about the world of work and develop strong life skills, so they can make informed choices about further study, jobs and their futures.

That's why we are reforming senior secondary schooling - to build the aspirations and skills of young people in Victoria, set them up for future careers, and meet the needs of the modern economy.

Excellent senior secondary education for all students

A single senior secondary certificate incorporating VCAL into VCE

Victoria is moving to a new integrated senior secondary certificate that will bring together our two senior secondary certificates, the VCE and VCAL. This will give all students the learning opportunities to develop the skills and capabilities needed to succeed in further education, work and life.

The first stage is the introduction of a new Vocational Major within the VCE commencing in 2023. This is a two-year vocational and applied learning program that will replace Senior and Intermediate VCAL

Vocational specialisation within VCE

The vocational specialisation stream within the VCE Vocational Major will provide a more robust and detailed curriculum to enable more consistent, high quality delivery. It will be accompanied by support materials for teachers that will inspire educational excellence and ensure consistent standards and outcomes for students. There will be a diverse range of assessment strategies to ensure the highest quality learning. 

All senior secondary students will receive an enhanced statement of results, recognised by training providers, universities and employers.

For more information on the VCE Vocational Major, please visit the VCAA website.

Foundation pathways certificate to replace Foundation VCAL

It is critical that every Victorian student is supported to complete education that meets their needs and moves them towards a rewarding career and a great life. 

Subject to legislative change, the Victorian Pathways Certificate will replace Foundation VCAL. It will provide an enriched curriculum, more subjects and excellent support for students to develop the skills, capabilities and qualities for success in personal and civic life. 

Subjects such as Work Related Skills, Personal Development Skills and Literacy and Numeracy based in real life work situations help them to build the confidence and skills necessary to choose the right pathway to the future for them, and to be successful in it. 

A foundation pathways certificate will be particularly important for students with additional needs, and for students re-engaging in education.

Students completing a foundation pathways certificate will be well-equipped to transition into senior secondary, further education and training or employment.

For more information about the VPC, see the VCAA website.

Single senior secondary certificate reform timeline

2020

  • November - Release of the Firth Review Recommendations

2021

  • Design and development of new certificate and curriculum
  • Term 1 2021 - Consultation with schools, teachers, providers and industry
  • Term 3 2021 - Draft certificate designs released for public consultation
  • Term 4 2021 - VRQA accreditation process commences

2022

  • March - Release of final certificate and new curriculum

2023

  • First enrolments in the new certificates

2025

  • Introduction of a fully integrated senior secondary certificate

For more information on the timeline for single senior secondary certificate reform, see the VCAA website.

Access to high quality VET for all students

Vocational education and training (VET) studies allow secondary students to gain practical skills and qualifications in a specific industry while contributing towards the completion of their senior secondary certificate. 

Participation in VET during senior secondary education provides students a fantastic opportunity to make a start on training for a great job, building practical, transferrable skills relevant to work and life – whether students decide to pursue further studies in university, TAFE or a registered training organisation.

No matter where they live, we are determined to ensure all students in Victorian government schools will have access to high quality VET courses which meet the needs of growing industries.

New professional learning for senior secondary teachers

A great senior secondary education requires a highly skilled and world class workforce, including teachers, trainers and staff in schools to support vocational and applied learning.

We are investing in professional learning and looking at how we can increase the number of teachers, trainers and school staff expert in vocational and applied learning.

As a first step, a suite of professional learning will support teachers new to vocational and applied learning as well as existing experts, as we transition to the integrated VCE certificate.

This professional development will build on a $26.2 million VET and VCAL workforce reform program, supporting teachers specialising in vocational and applied learning by providing opportunities to enhance industry skills, share innovative practice and foster teaching excellence. 

Celebrating excellence in vocational and applied learning

All senior secondary students achieving great things deserve to be celebrated.

Historically, students achieving strong results and success in academic subjects have been well-promoted, while excellence in vocational and applied learning has not always been as celebrated. Focussing more on vocational and applied learning in the way we talk about, and celebrate, achievement and success will help promote the benefits to schools, educators and the broader community.

A new VET Champions initiative showcasing high-achieving Victorians who have risen to success through a vocational pathway supports this. We're also celebrating outstanding businesses and employers who provide valuable workplace learning for students through our Championing Victorian Industry within Schools event.

Setting students up for the future

Transforming careers education in Victorian schools

We want to give students the tools to make informed choices about their future, and to support them to reach their potential.  

That's why the Victorian Government has invested $109 million into transforming careers education. A new suite of initiatives is ensuring career education in government secondary schools is starting earlier, making stronger connections to the world of work, and raising the importance of career education in preparing students for their futures.

All Year 9 students in government schools now have access to My Career Insights, a comprehensive online career discovery and assessment tool. Once they have completed their career assessment, students are able to access one-on-one career counselling of the highest quality with an external accredited career practitioner.

All students in government schools can access My Career Portfolio, an online resource to help students explore career options and think about their futures. Schools can support students to transition into work, study and training through School Industry Roundtable partnerships, which identify local labour markets and future skills needs. We are also investing in the excellence of our school career practitioners by providing funding for more than 400 government secondary teachers to obtain a Graduate Certificate in Career Education and Development.

Supporting all students to stay engaged in education and training

It is important that we support all students to remain engaged in school and accomplish their goals.

Through senior secondary reform, we will look for new ways to follow up students and ensure school has set them up for success in further education, training or employment.

We also need to ensure that students experiencing personal challenges are supported to remain in, or return to, education or training.

Building skills for a modern economy

Providing students the skills employers need

As our economy rapidly changes, it is increasingly likely that students today will have many different jobs across a number of careers. This will require young people to have a broad set of skills and a strong aptitude for lifelong learning. 

We want every student to see their skills, attributes, aspirations and achievements as leading them to the careers of the future. That's why we are working closely with employers, TAFE and training institutes, and universities to ensure we are giving all Victorian students the opportunity to gain the skills and capabilities to thrive at work.

Throughout the state, government schools will be offering a consistent set of VET courses that align to Victoria's Skills Plan, meet industry needs and set students up for a promising career.

Together with Skills First reforms to strengthen Victoria's VET system, we are setting students up for success in their chosen career.

High quality school-based apprenticeships and traineeships for more students

All senior secondary students aspiring to a vocational pathway should have access to options for paid, on-the-job training through school-based apprenticeships and traineeships (SBATs).

Building on the success of the Victorian Government's $49.8 million investment in the Head Start program, every government school will provide access to high-quality and well supported SBATs.

These SBATs will incorporate the strengths from the successful roll out of the Victorian Government's $49.8 million investment in the Head Start apprenticeships and traineeships program, to ensure there is greater support and coordination for students, schools and employers. 

Students will be able to complete their senior secondary certificate while learning vocational skills that prepare them for successful pathways after senior secondary school. 

More support for schools to deliver

The Firth Review found that to make these ambitions a reality, schools need the right supports.

Supporting students to access to VET

To support students to access the full suite of these reforms, we are exploring innovative solutions to address some of the most common barriers to students accessing VET, such as transportation, up-to-date equipment, infrastructure and workforce supply. 

This work builds on the funding already available to support VET innovation and delivery, and mixed delivery models trialled throughout remote learning in 2020. Our aim is to retain these innovations and empower schools to access these new ways of working, for all students.

Providing resources to make delivering high quality learning easier for schools

New Jobs, Skills and Pathways Coordination funding was introduced in 2021 to support government schools with reducing the administrative burden of delivering high quality vocational and applied learning programs. It will allow them to get on with supporting students to access the right learning options that best suit them.

Achieving fantastic vocational learning outcomes for students also requires strong partnerships and local innovation between schools, industry and further education and training providers. To achieve this the Victorian government will play a more active role supporting government schools to engage with industry and facilitating partnerships with TAFE and training providers.

Reviewing funding arrangements

New VET materials funding, introduced in 2022, will mean that government schools will no longer request payments from families for essential learning materials for participation in VET. This will address cost as a barrier for families and ensure that all senior secondary students can select VET subjects based on their strengths and interests.

The Victorian Government will review current funding arrangements supporting the delivery of vocational and applied learning in Victorian secondary schools. The aim is to simplify the funding model and remove cost as a barrier for schools offering students access to high quality vocational learning, including in non-school senior secondary providers.

Have your say

The Firth Review has provided a clear roadmap for the changes we need to make to improve senior secondary schooling in Victoria. We need your help to implement these reforms.

Through the Senior Secondary Pathways Reform site on Engage Victoria, we want you to have your say on the transformation of senior secondary schooling for Victorian students.

We will be seeking input on a wide range of topics, including:

  • Through an overview of the Senior Secondary Reform in general
  • The design and delivery of vocational specialisation within the VCE and the foundation pathways certificate
  • Ensuring all Victorian students have access to high quality VET courses aligned with their strengths and interest and to industry growth areas
  • Understanding what support schools need to more easily provide excellent vocational and applied learning experiences to their students
  • Understanding the workforce implications of new certificate designs and delivery models
  • High quality and well supported school-based apprenticeships and traineeships for more students across Victorian schools and senior secondary education providers.

Discussion papers, draft certificate designs and curriculum study designs will be uploaded in stages to allow stakeholders and community members time to comment and provide feedback on the various design pieces and implementation proposals.

We will be providing further updates on these changes through the Department of Education and Training website, and detailed updates for educators will be available through the Victorian Curriculum Assessment Authority website.

You can also speak to your local school's careers advisor or VCAL coordinator to learn more, or contact us directly at pathways.reform@education.vic.gov.au.

Existing vocational and applied learning programs

Explore the Department of Education and Training's vocational and applied learning programs and initiatives:

More information

Further information is available at:

Additionally, individuals may reach out for further information via: