Rural Senior Schooling into the Future?

by | Feb 12, 2020 | Bush Voices

Why can’t rural schools work together to provide senior schooling so that we gain access to a wide selection of subjects and programs?

Why, in the future, can’t rural schools combine VCE, VET and VCAL into one senior school program and certificate?

Why can’t education organisations celebrate all awards provided to students studying senior schooling?

How can we encourage our rural schools to talk to us about what we would like to learn in our senior years and not just offer the subjects and programs they are able to provide?

These were some of the key questions explored at the Rural Youth Ambassador facilitated Forum late in 2019.

The twenty rural young people who were involved in the 2019 Rural Youth Ambassador program facilitated a state-wide forum for rural educators, education sector personnel and key stakeholder groups to explore the future of senior education provision within Victoria.

Involving over 80 participants, the forum provided an opportunity for people to hear the lived-experiences of young people undertaking senior schooling within a rural community and to explore possible ideas that could be supported by education sectors into the future.

The Forum was pleased to have Dr Jen Jackson from the Mitchell Institute provide an inspiring presentation on the need to consider the future of senior secondary schooling, especially within a rural context. She encouraged us all to adopt a mindset of “Thinking Big”, and have a default attitude of “Yes it will work”, when listening to the ideas and experiences of the young people who were undertaking the programs currently offered at a senior level.

Jen presentation slides can be viewed here:

We were also pleased to have John Firth share his thinking on the statewide review of senior secondary education that he is currently leading.  John provided an outline of the key areas for exploration and encouraged people to contribute to the conversations over the next few months.

After the two presentations we commenced a range of discussions exploring the future of senior school education within rural and remote communities across Victoria.

Rural Youth Ambassadors 2019

We were encouraged to share our thinking during the forum, and there were a number of key areas that were endorsed:

  • The need for schools within rural communities to work together in order to ensure access to high-quality senior schooling for all rural young people. To achieve this, we would encourage governments to require schools to develop collaborations and partnerships.
  • The development of one senior secondary certificate that encompasses both academic and vocational options for students. This was seen as essential for the future. Suggestions were made for a points system, where students would be allocated a senior secondary school certificate based on the attainment of certain requirements in both or either streams.
  • The development of an extensive career and course advice support for rural students. This could be achieved through a state-wide online resource for rural students to gain information, ask for advice and suggestions through an online chat facility, or contact a support person through the online resource.
  • Encouraging new and creative ways in which schools can rethink how they operate senior school programs.  Why can’t schools free up timetables to allow students to undertake their studies through a “block” type approach over a shorter period of time? Why can’t an innovative combination of intense lecture style classes be mixed with more personal tutorial classes?

A summary report of the Senior Schooling Forum can be found here: