Mr BARTON (Eastern Metropolitan) (17:06): I rise to speak on the Education and Training Reform Amendment (Senior Secondary Pathways Reforms and Other Matters) Bill 2021. This bill sits clearly in response to the Firth review that concluded last year. VCAL was introduced as a pathway from school to work or further training. Unfortunately VCAL has long been plagued with poor perceptions, perhaps unfairly, despite its purpose being critical to strong educational outcomes. The Firth review was vital in maintaining the intention of VCAL; while the name will now go, the important elements that VCAL introduced into the senior secondary curriculum will remain and be strengthened, incorporating the VCAL design into a new vocational specialist pathway—the Victorian pathways certificate. This will encourage students to complete their senior secondary education by offering opportunities for integrated learning, flexibility and a focus on work-based learning and work readiness. This pathway will also provide important opportunities for community engagement and partnerships and develop workplace capabilities.
There are many skills that must be taught if students are to feel supported as they make their transition to further study or work. This pathway is about employability and 21st-century skills, giving our young people the best chance of building a life and a career they choose. It has been my life’s great regret that I did not complete my secondary school education. I left school at 15, and I did not have the same opportunities. I was a bit luckier than my father, who left school at 12. This bill I hope will mean more young people will complete their education and then find employment of their choice.
Of course providing the best education possible for our young people is always a work in progress. Systems will always need to be improved, curriculums changed and training updated. I believe the success of the new Victorian pathways certificate will be dependent on our fantastic teachers. My understanding is that currently design and technology teachers and VET teachers only require permission to teach and not a teaching degree. This absolutely has implications on the quality of education being delivered through this pathway. All teachers at the senior secondary level should have sufficient training in the curriculum design, assessment and community engagement. I would like to see more work done in supporting those in this field to undergo the necessary training that is required if we are going to provide the highest quality education to our young people. Of course I acknowledge the permission to teach system was introduced due to the shortfall of qualified teachers; however, we should still be working towards having all teachers in senior secondary schools with the highest qualifications, and I have absolutely every confidence in them. I commend this bill to the house.