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.