Education and Training Reform Amendment (Senior Secondary Pathways Reforms and Other Matters) Bill 2021 | Bill

Ms VAGHELA (Western Metropolitan) (16:58): I am delighted to rise to make a contribution on the Education and Training Reform Amendment (Senior Secondary Pathways Reforms and Other Matters) Bill 2021. This is another important bill that has come before this house. Education is a very important issue for me. This legislation is significant for Victoria’s future. This bill is on top of a wide variety of investments, initiatives and programs our government has already delivered. We all, regardless of politics, want to give young people in Victoria the best opportunities for a successful life. I believe we all want our young Victorians to support the future of our vibrant community and do well in their lives. This legislation is the way to help our young Victorians get to that path where they can achieve their best.

COVID-19 has shown that the resilience of Victorians is extraordinary. I am proud to be a Victorian. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank students, teachers and parents. What an effort it has been. They have spent the last 20 months dealing with the pandemic and dealing with the challenges of online learning, and they have all done a brilliant job.

It took extraordinary effort, and I want to acknowledge it here. Despite all the challenges, Victorian primary school students scored the best NAPLAN results in Australia this year. What an amazing achievement. The scores showed that the literacy and numeracy skills of our students did not suffer despite the turmoil this pandemic has brought upon them. This is all thanks to the phenomenal resilience of our students and the commitment of teachers and principals. I also want to thank the parents for the fantastic job they have done. Many parents wore many hats throughout this pandemic. They were working from home while supporting their children in their education. Now that schools are reopening and the students are heading back to face-to-face learning, I hope that we do not have to go through this again; it is too tough. But they did it, and that is amazing.

Getting back to the bill, the Bracks Labor government in 2002 introduced the Victorian certificate of applied learning, VCAL. There is no discounting that VCAL has made very important contributions towards keeping young Victorians engaged in training and education. Many stakeholders felt that there was a need to bring some reform. In 2019 we commissioned a review into how vocational education is designed and delivered in Victorian secondary schools. The aim of the Firth review was to build on the existing vocational programs and ensure consistent delivery and quality. The Firth review concluded that the Victorian system required major changes. This bill implements recommendations 1 and 10 of the Firth review.

I believe that this piece of legislation will show that the Victorian government stands with young Victorians. Good career education has never been more important than it is today for young people. Every Victorian student deserves high-quality education. The pandemic has completely changed how our economy works, and it has been a shock to the system. COVID-19 exposed a lot of cracks in the system too. There is a need to create transformational change. This bill will create a better training and education system. We have to make sure that students get the skills they need to get the jobs they want, and we can do exactly that through this bill. I believe that regardless of the post-school goals of students, they should get the best secondary education options. Pathways should suit every student. Our education system has to be designed to provide the best opportunities for Victorian students. It is very important that our senior secondary system positions itself to help students build the skills and capabilities to thrive in further education and training and build a rewarding career.

The new Victorian pathways certificate, VPC, and the vocational major within the VCE will provide an integrated certificate framework that includes a more rigorous and detailed curriculum. The certificates will build on the best elements of VCAL. This includes the flexibility to provide senior secondary students with an education that is engaging and based in real life and delivers in-demand skills for the work of the future. For students who are not ready or not able to undertake VCE, the new Victorian pathways certificate will provide an enriched curriculum with more subjects and excellent support for students to develop skills, capabilities and qualities for success in personal and civic life. The Victorian pathways certificate will re-engage students in education and help them transition to senior secondary education, training or work. From 2025, senior secondary students will complete a fully integrated VCE which will combine academic and applied learning for all students aligned with their strengths, interests and career aspirations, preparing students for diverse post-school pathways.

These reforms will help all students get access to a broader range of high-quality vocational education and training courses. It will also help students prepare for employment in growth industries through school-based apprenticeships and traineeships. Additionally these reforms will help students get better career advice and help shape their minds about which industry they wish to pursue a career in. Our goal is to build a state education system that gives an opportunity and a level playing field for every Victorian student. Reforms in this bill build on the record investments we have made in Victoria’s education sector.

This legislation will ensure that Victoria’s future remains strong. This bill will ensure that our young people can get a great education and develop strong life skills. We need the best system to give opportunities to our young Victorians. I think these reforms will support everyone, including vulnerable students. This bill ensures that every secondary student gets high-quality vocational and applied learning regardless of where their school is. I again acknowledge the great work our local school communities have done during the pandemic; it is incredible. I am proud to support this legislation. I commend this bill to the house.