The completion of Year 12 or equivalent is an important
predictor of future health, employment and welfare prospects and
improves the ability of Victorians to participate socially and
economically in their community.
Despite a significant focus on addressing student completion
rates over the past decade, the Department of Education and Early
Childhood Development (DEECD) has not significantly improved the
number of students achieving Year 12 or equivalent. This lack of
improvement is more stark for disadvantaged and at risk cohorts
such as non-metropolitan and low socio-economic students.
DEECD’s programs to support students at risk of disengaging from
education have failed to make a significant impact on completion
rates and DEECD does not know whether these programs are being
delivered efficiently and effectively or if schools have sufficient
resources to address vulnerable student's needs.
While the decision to cease funding Victorian Certificate of
Applied Learning (VCAL) coordinators in schools will save the
government $12.3 million per year, DEECD does not know how much it
actually costs schools to deliver VCAL or whether schools can meet
the demand for it. The impact of any reduction in the availability
or breadth of VCAL course offerings is most likely to impact on
students from rural or disadvantaged backgrounds.
The information provided to decision-makers regarding the
decision to cease the VCAL coordinator funding was incomplete and
was not evidence based. DEECD did not use adequate processes to
anticipate the compounding impact of multiple changes affecting
VCAL. There are concerns about DEECD’s ability to provide
comprehensive, informed advice to decision-makers to improve
student completion rates.