I am pleased to introduce the Department of Education and Training’s Strategic Plan for 2022–26.
As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of public education in Victoria, we remain steadfast in our commitment to our strategic vision: “Together we give every Victorian the best learning and development experience, making our state a smarter, fairer and more prosperous place”.
Education and training remain critical to Victoria’s social and economic recovery as we move beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. It is more important than ever that we continue to deliver high-quality programs and services and support our education and training workforces to improve education outcomes for all Victorians.
In January one million children returned safely to school and Victoria’s youngest learners started kinder on time and without disruption. Maintaining sustained face-to-face learning allows our schools and early childhood settings to maximise educational, social and wellbeing outcomes after 2 years of disruption.
This year, our universal, subsidised kindergarten program for 3-year-olds marks a major milestone, with the program now available for 5-15 hours in around 2,700 providers across the state. In addition, over the next decade, we will be implementing 3 major new early childhood education initiatives in Victoria. This includes making kinder free across the state from 2023, establishing 50 government-owned and affordable early learning centres, and transitioning the Four-Year-Old Kindergarten program to become ‘Pre-Prep’, a 30 hour per week play-based learning program. These are exciting reforms. Giving all Victorian children access to 2 years of play-based early learning before school has profound, long-lasting impacts that are felt through their entire education journey and beyond.
In 2021, Victorian schools led the nation in NAPLAN, achieving the highest percentage of students exceeding the national minimum standards. To continue this progress, the department is delivering high-quality programs such as the Tutor Learning Initiative, which has engaged thousands of teaching professionals and supported more than 200,000 students across the state. An on-going focus for the department is the continued efforts to lift numeracy and literacy outcomes for all year levels.
Our updated Framework for Improving Student Outcomes (FISO 2.0) places wellbeing alongside learning as a core outcome for students in Victorian schools. New investments in student mental health programs, including placing mental health practitioners in all government secondary schools, rolling out our Mental Health in Primary Schools Pilot to 100 schools, and creating the new Schools Mental Health Fund, recommended by the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, are delivering innovative and significant new responses at the school level. The continued roll out of the disability inclusion reforms are also critical as we work to ensure all students with disability are supported in government schools, so that every student can thrive.
To ensure the best educational outcomes for Victorian students, we need modern, vibrant school facilities. Through the construction of new school buildings, major upgrades, and delivery of maintenance and small capital works programs we are striving to ensure every school community has access to high-quality infrastructure and equipment that supports best practice teaching and a great learning experience.
From 2023, the VCE Vocational Major and Victorian Pathways Certificate will replace the Victorian Certificate or Applied Learning (VCAL). Moving to an integrated senior secondary certificate will give all students the learning opportunities to develop the skills and capabilities needed to succeed in further education, work and life. This is the most significant reform to senior secondary education in Victoria in decades and the department is working with schools to ensure the best possible start to the new certificates in 2023.
Our revitalised skills and training architecture focuses on addressing the complex and evolving needs of industry, business and community, with a vibrant TAFE network at its centre. The establishment of the Office of TAFE Coordination and Delivery in 2021 has strengthened TAFEs operating as a cohesive network delivering great student outcomes. Continued investment in Free TAFE has seen over 100,000 Victorians enrol in critical workforce areas. In addition the Big Build Apprenticeships and the TAFE Demonstration projects have enabled a record number of apprentices to secure employment and training in key Victorian government infrastructure projects.
Adult Community and Further Education continues to play an important role in enabling delivery of key foundation skills and providing a local access point for learners at the community level. The new Victorian Skills Authority established in 2021 is, through its annual Skills Plan, providing a roadmap for future skilling requirements to guide investment and priority setting across the vocational education and higher education sectors. It is important that we continue to drive responsive, streamlined and accessible vocational education and higher education sectors so that all Victorians, no matter their background or where they live, can access the skills they need for their future.
The department’s 2022–26 Strategic Plan supports our staff, partners and providers across the education and training sectors to be successful and deliver better outcomes. Our department has built strong foundations that enable good decision-making and high-quality public administration.
We have strengthened our capabilities in relation to project management, monitoring and reporting and continue to focus on how we track and measure progress, so we are able to course correct and improve delivery when needed.
I am proud that education and care services, schools and other learning institutions continue to be highly trusted service providers and reliable partners to millions of Victorians. That is why it is so important that we continue to provide safe, stable environments that support both excellence in learning outcomes and happy, healthy learners.