Senior Pathways &
VET programs for Secondary Students


Updated June 2016


Raised School Leaving Age

In October 2009 the Department engaged Dr John Mitchell from John Mitchell & Associates to document examples of best practice across NSW secondary public schools in relation to what was then the new school leaving age.

The field work was undertaken from October- November 2009.

Multiple examples of best practice across NSW secondary public schools were selected to showcase in the John Mitchell report. These case studies covered a range of schools to demonstrate how public secondary schools were responding proactively to the new school leaving age.

Some of the major themes about innovation and capacity in the case studies were identified and these still hold in 2014, the full 2009 report is available here.

A summary follows:



Case Studies


Crossing the Divide

The program aims to accredit these predominantly Indigenous students with an HSC, TVET competencies and a range of workplace accreditation. These young people by their admission would otherwise be unemployed and not enrolled in any formal educational setting. Continued productive social and community engagement is a prime goal of this BCS program.

Read the full Crossing the Divide Case Study



Three Rivers Program

The Three Rivers Program is comprised of a cluster of three NSW DEC Schools, Mendooran Central School, Dunedoo Central School and Coolah Central School, all based in western NSW. The program provides a balance of theory and practice with the overall program coordinated by a VET teacher with training provided at other sites by trainers with relevant vocational competencies.

Read the full Three Rivers Program Case Study



Illawarra Senior College

For a range of reasons, Illawarra Senior College is a unique school in NSW, providing a range of educational opportunities for students aged 15 - 82 in Years 10, 11 and 12. The college operates in a mature learning environment where there is no school uniform, students and teachers operate on a first name basis, and there is a strong welfare focus across the college that is acknowledged by students, parents and staff. The college currently operates over a four day week with extended hours from Monday to Thursday, and has a flexible curriculum structure that caters for full-time, part-time and pathways students. Approximately 25% of college students are of mature age.

Read the full Illawarra Senior College Case Study



Blakehurst High School

Blakehurst High School (BHS) is a comprehensive co-educational secondary school located in the Sydney Region. It has approximately 1,100 students drawn from over ten local primary schools. 70% per cent of students are from non-English speaking backgrounds and from over 50 different language backgrounds. The school's community is diverse with at least 40% of students from relatively low socio-economic backgrounds.

Read the full Blakehurst High School Case Study



VET Academy - Brisbane Water Secondary College

This case study focuses on this Year 10-12 college in a relatively low socio-economic area of NSW.

In seeking to provide an adult learning environment, the college has established a number of academies which provide specialised learning and career path opportunities for students. These are in Rugby League, Football and Netball, Technical Entertainment and Production (TEPA), and VET.

Read the full VET Aceademny - Brisbane Water Secondary College Case Study



Burwood Girls High School

The local community of Burwood Girls High School is diverse in terms of ethnicity, culture and socio- economic mix and has high expectations of the school. Established in 1929, the school has a tradition of excellence and innovation. The school clearly states that all girls are expected to learn as much as they can. This learning culture has been developed over a long period of time and is articulated through the purpose statement. That statement is widely displayed and is the rationale for all learning programs.

Read the full Burwood Girls High School Case Study



Byron Flexi School

The Byron Flexi School is designed to support young people in the Byron Shire who, for a number of reasons, have not flourished in a comprehensive high school setting. The School provides these students with programs and initiatives that will help them achieve success. The aim of the School is that students will complete a full secondary education or its vocational equivalent and have successful transitions from their schooling to further education, training, employment and community membership.

Read the full Byron Flexi School Case Study



Kempsey High School

Kempsey Shire is one of the most disadvantaged local government areas in NSW. The Vinson Report recognised contributing factors such as the low socio-economic conditions of the shire, entrenched welfare dependence and the multiple disadvantages of many families. Kempsey High School has approximately 25% indigenous students and is a Priority Action School.

Read the full Kempsey High School Case Study



Kingsgrove North High School

ingsgrove North High School is truly comprehensive co-educational high school, says principal Helen Wyatt, with a full range of students. "The school has very high performing kids, and lot of kids in the middle, including many who may want to go into trades or work, and others who are really not going to be engaged in school."

In response to this mixture of interests and abilities, the staff try to keep a balance so that, says Helen Wyatt, "they're meeting the needs of the high academic kids and meeting the needs of those kids who may otherwise have left school, but stay on until they find that it's not working for them".

Read the full Kingsgrove North High School Case Study



Links to Learning Case Studies

Achieving Success

Connecting Koori Kids to School, Identity and Culture

Nothern Beaches Jumpstart

Providing Pathways to Learning for Multicultural Youth

Serving up a Career