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Advice from schools and TAFE colleges

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Advice from schools and TAFE colleges

We’ve put together some tips on getting the best outcomes from offering VET courses to Stage 5 students. This guidance comes from schools and TAFE colleges who already offer VET courses in Years 9 and 10. They have indicated that there are a range of factors contributing to the success of their Year 9 and 10 VET programs, including:

  • selecting students carefully
  • selecting courses carefully, and offering courses with consideration of the curriculum standards, course requirements and the literacy and numeracy levels needed
  • undertaking detailed planning and consultation before offering VET to students in Years 9 and 10 to ensure viable pathways
  • cooperation and close collaboration with all parties involved, including the student and their parents, the school and the RTO delivering the course
  • preparing students well before they start the course (eg orientation sessions at the delivery site to help ensure students and their parents are aware of course requirements and expectations)
  • supporting teachers across the school, which is critical to help deal with the management of VET students in Years 9 and 10 undertaking VET courses (eg managing issues such as students missing time in other classes)
  • the support of parents, which is critical for things such as managing travel arrangements
  • using alternative approaches when managing students in Years 9 and 10, such as individualised case management
  • implementing programs to support students throughout the course (eg mentoring)
  • trainers of students in Years 9 and 10 via external delivery being well prepared to deal with the younger students
  • preparing students for their work placement.

The benefits for students studying VET in Years 9 and 10

Most schools and TAFE colleges that are offering VET to students in Years 9 and 10 have had very positive outcomes. They have described a broad range of benefits including:

  • improvements to students’ confidence both within and outside of school
  • students developing more positive attitudes to education
  • improved behaviour.

One principal described their experience of VET in Years 9 and 10 as a ‘transformative experience turning a complex group of students around in their school life and improving their behaviour’.

For some schools, offering VET courses to students in Years 9 and 10 has meant they can offer a wider variety of subjects to all students.

Students that benefit most from studying VET in Years 9 and 10

Schools and TAFE colleges offering VET to students in Years 9 and 10 indicate that student interest and readiness is critical. A student selection process should be undertaken to identify individual students who may be appropriate for, and benefit from, access to a VET course while in Years 9 and 10.

Schools and TAFE colleges have indicated that key considerations for selecting students in Years 9 and 10 to participate in VET include their:

  • genuine interest in the industry area and motivation to undertake the course
  • maturity and readiness to undertake a VET course
  • capacity to meet the requirements of the course including the curriculum standard and work placement (where required)
  • literacy and numeracy levels – limited literacy and numeracy levels can make some VET courses, particularly the trade courses, challenging for students.

Feedback from schools and TAFE colleges indicates that VET can benefit both high-achieving students in Years 9 and 10 and students at risk. Comments from schools and TAFE colleges suggest that:

  • some of the greatest success has been with students who are disengaged but have a genuine interest in the industry area
  • it provides a new opportunity for groups of students who had not experienced success at school
  • many ‘at risk’ students have coped well with early commencement of a Stage 6 VET course.

Schools and TAFE colleges with experience in offering VET to students in Years 9 and 10 caution that:

  • some students have struggled with the workload in a combined Year 10 and 11 class
  • some Year 9 students may not be ready for external delivery and may struggle with work placement.

Some schools have particularly focused on students who might otherwise exit school early in order to both encourage them to stay on and to give them some exposure to learning environments outside the school.

Selecting students

Schools and TAFE colleges currently offering VET to students in Years 9 and 10 are using a range of mechanisms to help in the selection of students. These include:

  • asking students to submit an expression of interest outlining why they would like to undertake a VET course in Years 9 and 10
  • conducting information sessions to ensure that all the requirements and expectations of participating in VET in Years 9 and 10 are clear to students and their parents
  • counselling students
  • conducting interviews to identify appropriate students and establish their commitment to undertaking a VET course in Years 9 and 10
  • using school reports and school-to-work transition planning to inform student selection.

Schools and TAFE colleges who have used these types of mechanisms as part of their student selection process have indicated that they have been very important. They state that using a careful selection process has led to increased completion rates in the VET courses.

How schools are helping to support students studying VET in Years 9 and 10

Additional support for students is crucial to their success. Support mechanisms have included:

  • putting in place student mentoring programs at school to help students manage their workload and maintain progress in other classes
  • providing additional support classes to students to help improve their literacy and/or numeracy levels and to help develop additional skills to manage their VET course (such as teaching them to manage a Stage 6 workload)
  • providing access to a support teacher or teacher's aid during the VET classes to support students with lower literacy and numeracy levels
  • implementing a buddy system, particularly for students who are in mixed cohort classes.

Planning issues to consider

There are a range of areas that should be taken into consideration when planning to offer VET to students in Years 9 and 10. Some schools and TAFE colleges have indicated that after working through a range of implementation issues to establish their VET in Years 9 and 10 program, the outcomes have been very positive.

Experienced schools and TAFE colleges have recommended that the following issues should be especially considered:

  • the capacity to support students in the program before offering any courses
  • the delivery mode of the courses to be offered:
    • school delivery versus external delivery
    • combined year classes versus single year cohorts
  • timetabling issues:
    • managing mixed classes
    • including periods off the timetable
    • block delivery approaches and their timing
  • potential logistical/transport issues:
    • travel arrangements for external delivery
    • travel arrangements to and from home where classes are scheduled off the timetable
  • managing student absence from other classes resulting from timetable clashes or travel time required for external delivery
  • managing supervision of students with free periods where the VET course doesn’t align to the regular school timetable
  • managing situations where continuing and new students may be together in a class (eg a Year 11 cohort that includes some students who had early commencement in Year 10 and others without previous study in the industry area)
  • feasible cohort sizes to enable planned pathways (capacity to be able to offer the courses planned in future years)
  • the need to consider funding sources
  • broad school support for the program.
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