Re-engagement programs

Re-engagement programs offer tailored support for students who are disengaged, or are at risk of disengaging from mainstream school. The programs runs outside the mainsteam school setting.

Refer a student to a re-engagement program

Re-engagement program providers may use their own referral forms that referring schools can complete. These should include the information outlined below as a minimum.

Referrals to re-engagement programs should be clearly documented and be done in consultation with the child or young person and their parent or guardian.

For a child or young person enrolled in school

A referral to a re-engagement program is only appropriate where a school:

  • has identified a student at risk of disengaging
  • has put in place a range of strategies to support the student to improve engagement in the school setting, which have not been successful.

If these conditions have been met, the enrolling school may refer to a re-engagement program following these steps:

  1. Discuss the option of a re-engagement program, including what it will involve, with the child or young person, their parent/guardian and obtain their consent to make a referral.
  2. Liaise with the re-engagement program provider regarding the potential referral, to discuss suitability for the individual child or young person, likely length of placement, the program’s capacity to accept a new referral, and any specific referral information required.
  3. Complete a written referral, which should be done collaboratively with the child or young person and their parent/guardian. The following information should be included as a minimum:
    • the child or young person’s risks, needs, goals, and strengths (should include both the school and young person’s perspectives)
    • the child or young person’s educational history
    • the specific learning, social and/or behavioural outcomes sought from the placement in a re-engagement program
    • the range of strategies which the school and other services has implemented to maintain engagement in a school setting
    • any school-based and/or external agencies currently supporting the child or young person and relevant information regarding these support relationships
    • the name and role of contact person at enrolling school who will liaise with the re-engagement program regarding the student’s participation, attendance, progress and outcomes.
    • written consent from the child or young person and their parent or guardian for the referral, including the disclosure of any personal information
  4. Seek written approval of referral from school principal.
  5. Supply referral information to the provider, along with relevant additional documentation such as existing needs assessments or individual learning plans.
  6. Ensure the school keeps a copy of the referral. In making a referral, schools:
    • should allocate an appropriate person to lead the referral process - it may be an assistant principal, wellbeing staff member such as a student welfare coordinator or primary welfare officer, or student support services officer
    • must obtain the consent of the child/young person and their parent/guardian
    • must ensure that any placement of a student supported by the Program for Students with Disabilities in a re-engagement program is approved by their student support group, and included as a strategy in their individual education plan. The decision about placement for a student with a disability must include consideration of any necessary adjustments for their access, participation and achievement
    • must consider funding and contract arrangements.

For a child or young person not enrolled in school

A child does not need to be enrolled in a school to access a re-engagement program.

The child's parent, carer or a support worker should first discuss options for enrolment and engagement back into school with:

  • the child or young person’s previous school or
  • the local neighbourhood government school (where the previous school is not identified, interstate or not within reasonable distance of the child or young person’s current residence).

If the enrolment is accepted and it is determined that a re-engagement program is the best option, the same referral process should be followed as for other enrolled students.

If this approach is not successful, the child or young person, their parent/guardian or support worker should contact the closest regional office.

Manage students in re-engagement programs

How to manage students in re-engagement programs including recording and reporting attendance and contract arrangements.

Record and report attendance

Re-engagement programs must:

  • keep an attendance roll at least half daily of attendance and absence, in line with requirements for all schools
  • promptly report any absences and the reason for absence to the enrolling school.

Enrolling schools must:

  • record students attending a re-engagement program on CASES21 using absence code 613 ‘Re-engagement program'
  • if advised of a student absence from re-engagement program on a day of scheduled attendance, record the absence on CASES21 using the appropriate code.

Schools and programs should maintain regular contact regarding attendance issues at the program and strategies to address non-attendance.

Recording enrolments on the Victorian Assessment Software System (VASS)

All students attending an approved senior secondary re-engagement program must be enrolled on the VASS by the school as participating in a satellite or community VCAL certificate. This enrolment also requires schools to identify the provider details and the location where the VCAL provision occurs.

Identifying students in senior secondary re-engagement programs on VASS helps:

  • schools monitor the progress and achievement of these students
  • us to identify additional enrolments following February census that are eligible for allocation of pro-rata SRP.

Schools should contact the VASS administrative support unit by:

Only schools with approved programs can select community or satellite VCAL certificates on VASS.

Contract arrangements

When a student attends a re-engagement program, the enrolling school retains duty of care for the student. However, where the program is run by another school or provider, the enrolling school may have no or little capacity to oversee the day-to-day running of the program.

Therefore, it is important that there is a written agreement between the school and provider detailing the responsibilities of each party, and the funding arrangements that are in place.

Independent or Catholic schools seeking to access a re-engagement program for their enrolled students should negotiate contract arrangements directly with provider.

Establish a re-engagement program

Work on establishing a new program needs to commence well in advance of the planned operation date. The main phases in establishing a new re-engagement program are:

Identifying need

Schools should work with relevant stakeholders to collect evidence on the need for a new re-engagement program.

Key stakeholders include:

  • other schools and education and training providers
  • community services such as Youth Connections and School Focused Youth Service providers, and other youth-focused agencies
  • networks including Student Support Services networks, Local Learning and Employment Networks, Youth Partnerships governance groups (if applicable), and other education and youth service networks
  • students and families.

Useful sources of data may include:

  • school level data regarding attendance, behaviour and retention (the Student Mapping Tool is useful in collating this data)
  • attitudes to school survey data
  • adolescent community profiles
  • environmental scans conducted by Local Learning and Employment Networks
  • data collected by community services.

The types of questions to consider in this phase include:

  • how many children and young people are disengaged or at risk of disengaging from our school/in our network or community?
  • what are the characteristics of this group in terms of age, educational level, presenting issues?
  • are there existing education options that could meet the needs of this group?

Plan a program

Once need for a program is established, planning should focus on broadly planning the program itself. Questions to consider include:

  • what will the re-engagement program deliver?
  • who will deliver it?
  • where will it be located?
  • who will be the target group?
  • how many children or young people will it cater to?
  • how will the program be governed?
  • what links and partnerships with community agencies and/or businesses could be established to support the program?
  • what funding sources will it draw on?

Planning should occur well in advance of the proposed commencement of a program, to ensure sufficient time to identify and address issues, refine the plan, and seek necessary approvals for program operation.

This planning may be led by a particular school, however there should be close consultation with other schools and relevant agencies and the Department regional office.

Engagement with the relevant regional office is important as it plays a key role in obtaining necessary approvals for program delivery.

Necessary approvals

If the planned program involves delivery by a school at a site external to existing school campus/es, the following steps must be undertaken prior to the program commencing:

  • seek approval of a school reorganisation by the Minister for Education
  • seek amendment of the school’s VRQA registration to add an additional campus.

Preparation for seeking these approvals should start as early as possible during the planning phase to ensure that any issues are identified early and strategies developed to address these.

Approval of school reorganisation

Establishment of a re-engagement program by a school on a site external to existing campus/es constitutes a school reorganisation, which requires approval by the Minister for Education.

Approval must be sought via a school reorganisation briefing prepared by the relevant regional office using the template for re-engagement programs.

A consultation checklist is appended to the briefing template, which requires regions to consult across the relevant business areas of the Department. The consultation process requires regions to document consultation and approval outcomes, including confirmation of proposed location, infrastructure requirements, operational funding sources and program funding.

The site for the program must be inspected to ensure facilities comply with Departmental standards. You should seek advice on this process from your regional office.

Amendment of school registration

Schools must obtain approval by the VRQA to amending their registration to add an additional campus. This can only be done following approval of a school reorganisation by the Minister for Education

For information on minimum standards for school registration, sample policies and the application process for amendments, contact the Deparment on (03) 9947 1854.

Requirements for senior secondary programs

Senior secondary re-engagement programs must be delivered by a school or provider that is:

  • registered by the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA) and authorised by the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA) for delivery of the VCAL or
  • registered with the VRQA for their scope of delivery when delivering a VET qualification.

Schools seeking registration as a senior secondary provider should contact the Department on (03) 9947 1854.

Non-school providers should contact VRQA directly on (03) 9637 2806.

Authorisation by the VCAA to deliver VCAL will only be granted following registration as a senior secondary provider by the VRQA. For further information on the authorisation process, contact the VCAA on (03) 9032 1727.

Senior secondary re-engagement programs also must be approved for operation by the relevant Department regional office. For more information, see: Senior Secondary Re-engagement (Reference 53)

Policies and procedures

Re-engagement programs should have a range of policies and procedures in place to document the operations of the programs and other requirements such as duty of care and occupational health and safety obligations.

Programs delivered by a school or registered training organisation (RTO) will be covered by existing policies that are required under legislation or as a condition of registration with the VRQA. However, it may be appropriate that specific policies are developed to reflect the re-engagement program environment.

Relevant policies and procedures include:

  • Policy requirements articulating the program’s expectations in the areas of student engagement, attendance and behaviour including staged response processes and suspension or expulsion procedures
  • Information privacy outlining processes for maintaining confidentiality of private information of program participants, in line with privacy legislation
  • Child protection and mandatory reporting outlining staff obligations and responsibilities for identifying and responding to child abuse and/or neglect, including allegations of sexual abuse
  • Parent complaints policy outlining procedures for addressing student, family, staff or other stakeholder concerns and complaints effectively
  • Attendance recording and processes for reporting this regularly to the enrolling school.

Types of re-engagement programs

Quality programs are tailored to best meet the age and stage of learning of an individual student (or group). The aims of each program and required levels of school oversight of its delivery will differ.

For example, any re-engagement program delivered to primary school-aged children must be school-delivered, with the aim of re-engaging children back into a mainstream school.

On the other hand, programs for senior secondary students may offer a range of pathways and transition options, be delivered by a registered training organisation and involve little day-to-day oversight by students’ enrolling schools.

The following two principles apply to programs at all levels:

  • children and young people must be enrolled in a school in order to access a re-engagement program
  • schools maintain a duty of care for their enrolled students even when they are attending a re-engagement program, regardless of the level of day-to-day oversight the school has over the program.

For more information on program types at different levels of schooling, see:

Primary level

At the primary level, re-engagement programs:

  • must be delivered by a school. The school may establish partnerships with appropriate community agencies to deliver aspects of the program, however the ‘provider’ must be a school which is registered to deliver education to the year levels the program caters to
  • should aim to address learning, social and behavioural needs of the individual so he or she can return to school as soon as possible
  • must deliver a program that contributes to achievement of outcomes in the curriculum
  • may cater to students enrolled in a number of schools
  • should involve high level of oversight of student progress by their enrolling school (for example there may be weekly contact between the provider and school to monitor an individual’s progress and work toward transition back into a school).

For more information on establishing a program, see: Establish a re-engagement program

For more information on any existing re-engagement programs for primary school students in your area speak with Student Wellbeing staff in the relevant Department regional office. For contact details, see: Regions

Secondary up to year 10

There are two types of re-engagement programs that may be established for secondary students in Years 7 to 10 (generally aged 12-14 inclusive).

The right program type will depend on the needs of the individual young person or group of young people.

or more information on any existing re-engagement programs for secondary students in your area speak with Student Wellbeing staff in the relevant Department regional office. For contact details: see Regions

School-delivered program

This type of program is delivered by a school, potentially in partnership with appropriate community agencies to deliver aspects of the program, however the ‘provider’ must be a school which is registered to deliver education to the year levels the program caters to.
In a school-delivered program:

  • the aim should be to address learning, social and behavioural needs of the individual so he or she can return to school as soon as possible
  • the education program delivered must be linked to achievement of outcomes in one or more VELS domain
  • the level of oversight of program delivery by enrolling schools should be medium (i.e. regular contact with provider regarding progress of individual students and planning for return to school).

Accredited vocational education and training program

Accredited training provides skills and knowledge that leads to a nationally recognised qualification. In re-engagement programs for young people up to year 10, appropriate accredited programs are Certificates I or II in the general studies or further education area, such as:

  • Certificates in General Education for Adults
  • Certificates in Vocational Preparation

These programs focus on building foundation skills that are important for further education, training and employment. The aim of these types of programs should be to build young people’s skills and confidence, while giving them the opportunity to complete accredited studies in alternative learning environment.

In an accredited re-engagement program:

  • the focus should be on creating pathway back into school (if possible), or to further education, training or employment.
  • there must be a contract between the enrolling school and the registered training organisation for delivery of the accredited program.
  • the level of oversight of program delivery by enrolling schools should be medium (regular contact with provider regarding progress of individual students and planning for transition from the program).

For more Information about training courses and providers, see: Victorian Skills Gateway

Senior secondary level

Senior secondary re-engagement programs cater to young people aged 15 to 20 years inclusive, who may or may not have completed Year 10. Programs at this level should deliver a senior secondary qualification (VCE or VCAL).

In some cases, senior secondary re-engagement programs may deliver an accredited further education program – such as Certificate for General Education of Adults – to build students’ capacity to undertake a senior secondary qualification

Senior secondary re-engagement programs may be delivered in one of two ways:

  • by a school, alone or in partnership with external agencies (a satellite program)
  • by a registered non-school senior secondary provider contracted by a school to deliver 100% of the qualification (a community program).

In a senior secondary re-engagement program:

the aim is for students to complete a senior secondary qualification and transition to further education, training or employment

  • the provider must be registered by the VRQA as a senior secondary provider (and authorised by the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority if delivering VCAL)
  • programs may cater to students enrolled at multiple schools
  • contracts must be in place between enrolling schools and providers
  • enrolling schools maintain responsibility for administering enrolments through both CASES21 and the Victorian Assessment Software System (VASS)
  • the level of oversight of program delivery by enrolling schools (where they are not the provider) should be low-medium (contact at least once per term with provider regarding progress of individual students; support in planning transition from the program).

For more information on any existing senior secondary re-engagement programs in your area speak with youth pathways and transitions staff at your closest regional office.