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Curriculum & Leadership Journal
An electronic journal for leaders in education
ISSN: 1448-0743
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Reshaping Queensland's education and training system

Special report

Queensland’s education and training systems are changing to give students more flexibility and better prepare them for the future. New laws and a fresh approach to the senior phase of schooling are set to introduce more flexibility and provide more choices for students. The changes are part of the State Government’s ‘learning or earning’ philosophy that will see young Queenslanders in education, training or work until they are 17. Currently, students can leave school when they turn 15.

The Youth Participation in Education and Training Act 2003 comes into effect in 2006. Under the Act, students will have to stay at school until they finish Year 10 or turn 16, whichever comes first. When young people have turned 16 or finished Year 10, they must stay in education and training for a further two years, or until they have:

  • gained a Queensland Certificate of Education (QCE), which will replace the current Senior Certificate from 2008; or
  • gained a Certificate III vocational qualification; or
  • turned 17.

Young people who are working a minimum of 25 hours a week are exempt.

Student accounts

Before a student completes Year 10 or turns 16, he or she will be registered with the Queensland Studies Authority (QSA). Once registered, the QSA will establish a learning account for that student. The learning account will allow students to ‘bank’ learning achievements during their senior phase of learning. These achievements will then count towards their QCE or Certificate III vocational qualification.

On registering students, schools will provide the QSA with:

  • the young person’s name, address and date of birth
  • their intended learning options for the Senior Phase of Learning
  • the setting in which that learning will take place – school, TAFE or a private provider – and the name of the provider.

In 2005, Queensland schools are trialling an online registration system. The trial will help to ensure that the registration and banking systems used by schools and other learning providers are compatible with the learning accounts system.

Planning the learning journey

For students starting Year 10 in 2006, the journey through Queensland’s new Senior Phase of Learning begins with the development of a Senior Education and Training (SET) Plan.

Through the SET planning process, young people start to think about and plan for their study, training and career options during the senior phase.

Schools will work closely with students and their parents to help identify learning and career options and develop SET plans. Through this process, students will develop a pathway through the senior phase tailored to their abilities, interests and long-term career goals.

For schools, this means working with students to help them document their abilities and ensuring they are aware of the different options available to them in the senior phase of schooling.

The SET plan may include learning at school or TAFE, through an employment program, an apprenticeship or traineeship, or a combination of these options.

The Youth Participation in Education and Training Act 2003 includes flexible arrangement provisions for all students. From the beginning of 2004, this provision has enabled schools to arrange programs for students that may be delivered away from the school.

From 2006, Year 10 will become an important transition year when young people start to plan for their future. By developing a SET plan, young people will be able to identify their individual strengths and interests and map out education and training options that will ensure they make the most of the senior phase of learning and achieve success in later life.

The QSA website includes guides to help in developing and implementing the SET plans.

Working in partnership

This new approach to senior schooling means that schools need to work closely with a range of other learning providers, including TAFE and private Registered Training Organisations (RTOs), as well as with local business and industry.

To help schools build such partnerships, each education district in the State has developed a District Youth Achievement Plan (DYAP). The purpose of the DYAP is to coordinate programs and services at the local level, across State and non-State schools, vocational education and training providers and other services to cut duplication, use resources more efficiently, and close gaps in service.


  • outlines the goals and key priorities for young people in the local area
  • provides a summary of the key strategies and actions the local area will take to improve the learning and employment opportunities for young people, including
    •  innovative local initiatives for improving the participation, retention and attainment of young people in learning (supported by Education and Training Reforms – ETRF – grants funds), and 
    • strategies for flexible resource usage
  • outlines management and accountability structures.

Local DYAP management committees – made up of local education and training leaders and other stakeholders – are the key bodies for developing and implementing the plan in collaboration with stakeholders.

Working in partnerships with other learning providers and their local communities, schools will be better placed to provide young people with access to more opportunities during the Senior Phase of Learning.

More support for students

During the Senior Phase of Learning, students have been offered more vocational education and career guidance and personal support to help them make sound decisions about their future.

Across the State, 113 Youth Support Coordinators are being employed to help students deal with school and personal issues and to help them stay at school.

For students thinking about leaving school, new programs, such as Get Set for Work, are in place to help them. Get Set for Work is an employment program aimed at early school leavers and young people at risk of disengaging.

The program is designed to re-engage and prepare young people to enter employment or return to learning. Approximately 600 places are currently available and this will increase to 1,500 this financial year.

More information on the Get Set for Work program is available from the Department of Employment and Training or local DET regional offices.

More support for students is available from an online career and information service established by the QSA. The service is currently in trial form, and is expected to be fully operational in February 2006.


This article is an edited and abridged version of an earlier report in Education Views 19 August 2005.

See also the special report on developments in Queensland school education in Curriculum Leadership 22 April 2005, which includes more information on the Queensland Certificate of Education.



Subject Headings

VET (Vocational Education and Training)
Vocational guidance