Western Australian students will have more choice in their final school years to better equip them for careers, with changes to senior secondary schooling to come into effect next year.
Students beginning Year 11 in 2020 will now have another option to achieve their Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE) in 2021.
Currently to achieve their WACE, students must complete a minimum of five courses in Year 12 of which a minimum of four must be Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR) courses (ATAR pathway) or complete four General Courses with a Certificate II or higher (General Pathway with Vocational Education and Training (VET)).
Now students can select a third study pathway of five General Courses to complete their WACE.
General courses are 50 subjects offered across all learning areas, and include English, Mathematics Essential, Accounting and Finance, Biology, Human Biology, Chemistry and Physics and align closely to ATAR courses.
For General Courses, in addition to ongoing assessments set by schools, the School Curriculum and Standards Authority (SCSA) sets an external common assessment that all students sit in Year 12. Students who choose General Courses can enter employment, vocational education and training or choose a university pathway.
With the introduction of this third pathway, all other requirements to achieve a WACE remain unchanged – a literacy and numeracy standard, breadth and depth requirement (20 units or the equivalent and a combination of list A and B courses) and an achievement standard (a minimum number of C grades).
In October last year, Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery asked the SCSA to consult with school leaders, training providers, industry, parents and students. These changes are a result of this consultation.
The changes to senior secondary vocational education and training follow two wide-ranging reports, from the Office of the Auditor General in 2016 and the Education and Health Standing Committee in 2017.
Comments attributed to Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery:
“This third pathway gives students more options. For some students, five Year 12 General courses, or a combination of General and ATAR courses will be a more appropriate preparation for their post-school pathway.
“In the past you chose ATAR courses if you wanted to go to university and VET courses if you wanted to link into training and this middle ground gives students an option for both.
“I want to see every student take the most challenging courses that they are capable of completing to maximise their future study and career options.”