Australia needs more post-school pathways and they don’t all lead to university, the Shergold review suggests
The review commissioned by the education ministers’ council has released background and discussion papers – but there is a clear sense of what chair Peter Shergold (and colleagues) could conclude – less emphasis on ATARs, more focus on alternatives to university, recognising competencies and micro-credentials and a single post-school system.
on assessment: “The systemic shift toward school improvement appears to have led to an undue emphasis on academic outcomes, such as ATAR scores, rather than an overall view of what students have learned, know and can achieve as individuals. For example, the current presentation of the Senior Secondary Certificate of Education tends to outline only a student’s grades, rather than providing a broader picture of their skills, capabilities and maturity. A student’s workplace experience and community engagement may help provide a much better indication of their drive, resilience and developmental potential.” (discussion paper)
alternatives: “Higher education, while viewed as a prestigious pathway, may not suit the needs of all young people. This is supported by recent research which estimates one in five students who start a bachelor degree will leave university without getting a degree, with one- third of those students believing they received no benefits from their study. These students get no value for their time or money.” (background paper)
competencies and credentials: “Introduce micro-credentialing options to senior secondary school, to allow students to demonstrate (to themselves and to future education providers or employers) their aptitude or learning achievements relating to specialisations. These could count toward the Senior Secondary Certificate of Education, recognition of prior learning, or work related skill competencies.”
one big system: “Recent research has proposed the need for a single tertiary education sector that calls for universal and affordable access to a quality tertiary education that is comprehensive, coherent and inter-connected and that makes better use of both vocational and higher education (to the extent they can be differentiated). This type of tertiary education will need to respond to challenges facing our students, rather than being based on outdated demarcations between academic and vocational learning. This has the potential to impact significantly on current senior secondary entry requirements into tertiary education,” (discussion paper). Note the “will”.