Curriculum related topics were raised by young people more than 1,000 times during our consultation. Curriculum as a topic had a big spike in Campaspe Shire where it was mentioned 643 times with young people telling us they wanted more subject options and flexibility, more relevant and applicable 'real life education' and a stronger focus on hands on learning across all year levels.
"Provide the broadest range of subjects possible to give students endless opportunities."
"Have more classes relevant to helping a student get prepared for life in the real world."
But at the heart of the curriculum issue for many of the young people we spoke to was the need for greater resourcing and supports for hands on learning programs in schools such as the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL) and Vocational Education and Training (VET). It was widely acknowledge that without VCAL or VET many of these young people would not have been engaged in formal education.
"This VCAL program is better than any VCE program I know of. It is the best thing I have done... They accept me for who I am. I get treated like an adult. It's real life learning. Anything is possible."
Hands on learning and real life skills are what young people believe are the biggest items missing from the curriculum at present. Unfortunately it would seem for many young people who are disengaged from school VCAL or VET either doesn't come early enough for them or due to the negative stigma surrounding VCAL and VET young people are discouraged from these pathways.
"Give students more choice by making a VCAL learning stream for years 7-10."
"Get rid of the stigma around VCAL. At my age the nickname for VCAL students is Veggies. People see them as the dumb kids ... the dropouts or druggies."
"Give us a variety of subject choices relevant to what we want to be."
"I would love to increase the opportunity to provide more resources to VCAL because i think that it has such potential as it helps students gain life skills and work experience whilst they are still at school."
Read the full report here.