The Country Education Partnership’s (CEP) Rural Youth Ambassador (RYA) program has been commended for its role in the development of Victoria’s new VCE Collaboration Fund.
Speaking with RYA Alumni last week, Education Minister James Merlino said the scheme had been soundly influenced by conversations with the Rural Youth Ambassadors about their experiences of VCE subject restrictions due to their school size and location.
Mr Merlino acknowledged the consistent and persistent ideas for change, put forth by each RYA cohort since his government’s election in 2014.
CEP is now encouraging all rural and remote Victorian schools to apply for round one of the Collaboration Fund, which has been explicitly developed to support country schools to partner with each other to collaboratively broaden their VCE subject offerings.
It is anticipated the scheme will support around 100 schools over the next four years, giving VCE students greater choice in what they study by offering access to subjects in other schools.
Learning can be delivered face-to-face in the classroom, virtually through video conferencing, or through a ‘blended’ face-to-face and virtual approach.
School partnerships can apply for up to $40,000 to be used for things like purchasing learning resources, equipment, and transport so that staff and students can travel across partner school sites.
Victorian schools from all sectors can apply, provided at least one school in the partnership is a government school in a regional, rural or remote area.
Expressions of interest for round one are open until Friday, March 29 with an additional round to open later in the year, followed by subsequent rounds in 2020 and 2021.
The fund is being delivered alongside an expansion of VCE subjects offered through the virtual learning programs of Virtual School Victoria and the Victorian School of Languages, and through a new ‘blended learning’ pilot, through the Victorian Virtual Learning Network.
Why is this needed?
VCE students in rural and remote areas of Victoria have, on average, access to fewer subjects than their metropolitan counterparts. It is well documented that choice of subjects is a key driver for school retention and completion. Further, the subject choices which students make in VCE can impact on access to higher education, vocational education and training opportunities, and employment prospects.
What can the funding be used for?
The fund will provide a one-off grant of up to $40,000 to each successful school partnership based on an expression of interest process.
The funding can be used to cover costs such as:
- time release for teachers to design shared VCE delivery arrangements
- hiring a facilitator to build the partnership and nurture collaborative expertise
- one-off establishment costs, such as the preparation of shared-use agreements
- purchase of equipment to support collaboration/sharing of resources
- professional learning
Funding will be provided to each VCE partnership for up to one year, noting that partnerships are expected to be sustainable beyond the funding period.
Successful recipients may be able to apply in future rounds for an extension of their VCE partnership arrangement, provided the total value does not exceed $40,000.
Existing inter-school partnerships are eligible to apply for funding, provided they demonstrate a capacity to expand VCE subject choice and improve quality beyond existing arrangements.
How to apply
For more details on the application process and to access the guidelines and expression of interest form, see: www.education.vic.gov.au/about/programs/Pages/vcecollaborationfund.aspx.
Completed applications should be submitted to the Department via email: VCE.Collaboration.Fund.@edumail.vic.gov.au
Each school in the partnership should contribute to the joint application.
Round One Applications close, Friday, March 29.