VicSRC is delighted to see significant investment in this years state budget into programs and reforms that will ensure Victorian students receive education that is flexible, supportive and relevant to the 21st century.
This budget will provide crucial funding to areas that the VicSRC student community have identified as priorities for change and ensure Victorian students can focus on what they can do instead of what they can’t.
Students have repeatedly spoken, at VicSRC’s annual Congress and more widely, about the need to reform VCE and better deliver the real world skills already included in the curriculum. We are excited to see $38 million over four years dedicated to developing an integrated senior secondary certificate, which will give all students the opportunity to choose academic and practical subjects and gain the skills needed for life after school. This funding will also cover new Jobs, Skills and Pathways Coordinators to provide support and advice for students choosing vocational and applied learning programs.
This new certificate will help reduce the stigma surrounding vocational pathways, increase student agency and provide further opportunities for senior students to learn real world skills in school. There will also be a new Foundation pathway certificate – for those who don’t go all the way to year 12 as well as all students who fully or partially complete vocational subject.
VicSRC looks forward to working with the government on this reform to ensure that student voices are front and centre.
One of the recommendations from VicSRC’s LFRL report was to enable all students to keep access to digital devices at home after the remote learning period finished. We were very pleased to see $24.5 million for government schools to be reimbursed so that 71,000 mobile devices that were loaned out during remote learning can be kept by the students. VicSRC look forward to working with the DET around what this means in practice and how to ensure all students that need devices can get them now and in the future. There is also additional funding of $20.5 million that will go towards building the capacity of teachers to use digital technology.
To support government school students experiencing financial difficulties, there is $31.6 million to help with the costs of camps, sports and excursions as well as buying uniforms via State Schools Relief.
VicSRC is also very excited to see a huge investment to support students with disabilities which will increase the number of students that are eligible to receive classroom support. This amount also includes support for staff to deliver more inclusive education for every student – an important goal of VicSRC’s vision.
There is funding for Initial Teacher Education, designed to encourage graduates to work in education settings in their local community, which will create opportunities for Aboriginal peoples to work as teachers on Country. Students identified this as an action in the Congress priority Igniting Indigenous Inclusion.
VicSRC welcomes the pre-budget mental health in schools announcement and encourages the government to consider providing teen mental health first aid training for all secondary students to increase the capacity of young people to manage their own mental health and support their peers.
This budget clearly hears and responds to many of the issues in education that are regularly identified by students and amplified by VicSRC. It is an investment in the future of all students and will go a long way to reaching the Victorian Education State’s goal of equity and excellence. It shows a good understanding of the benefits of involving students in decisions around their education and takes great steps forward in listening to and respecting them.