Vocational Subject Shake-Up in New South Wales Schools

Vocational Subject Shake-Up in New South Wales Schools
Senior students seen in class at Melba Secondary College in Melbourne, Australia, on Oct. 12, 2020. (Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

Australian students in New South Wales (NSW) will soon be allowed to study as many vocational subjects as they like and still receive a tertiary ranking score, as teachers prepare a statewide strike over pay.

Under the HSC overhaul, the category A and category B system for Vocational Education and Training subjects will be abolished.

Currently students wanting to receive an ATAR can only study one category B course - such as business services, construction or hospitality - that contribute to their score.

But the scrapping of the categories will mean they can take up as may as they like and still get an ATAR, as long as they complete English as a mandatory subject.

Other reforms include piloting more HSC exams online from 2025, introducing learner profiles to showcase a student’s extra-curricular achievements and clearer course overviews for Year 10 pupils selecting HSC subjects.

NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell says the HSC has not had a major review in 25 years and the reforms will bring it into the 21st century.

“In today’s economy we all need analytical, communication and collaboration skills to succeed, regardless of whether we are working as a retail manager, plumber, scientific researcher or politician,” she said on Sunday.

“We must start valuing vocational and academic pathways equally, and recognise all students need the skills to thrive in modern workplaces.”

The changes come as teachers and principals report mass learning disruptions in NSW public schools due to worsening teacher shortages, according to data revealed by the state teachers union.

Internal Department of Education documents show 1906 permanent teaching positions were vacant last month, up 67 percent from the same time last year, NSW Teachers Federation president Angelo Gavrielatos says.

“We have children across NSW missing out every single day because of the teacher shortages, including those in Year 12, which is the most vital year of their schooling,” he said.

NSW public and Catholic school teachers plan to strike across the state on Thursday in a push for a better pay deal amid rising inflation.