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Government canvasses Senior Certificate overhaul.



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Education & Arts The Hon. Anna Bligh MP

10 May 2004

Government canvasses Senior Certificate overhaul

The Queensland Government is canvassing an overhaul of the Senior Certificate as part of reforms to make education more relevant to the 21st century.

Premier Peter Beattie and Education Minister Anna Bligh today released a discussion paper seeking input from parents, teachers, employers and the wider community on shaping a new Senior Certificate.

They said the discussion paper - approved by Cabinet - includes options such as setting minimum literacy and numeracy standards, and giving Senior Certificate candidates credit for workplace learning or university subjects.

"It's time to modernise the 94-year-old Senior Certificate," Mr Beattie said.

"We need to make sure it is a passport to work, training or higher learning in the 21st century.

"Our 'learning or earning' reforms are radically changing the face of education for the better.

"The young people who are products of this improved system need a certificate to be proud of, just as their potential employers, trainers and educators need a certificate they can trust.

"The past 20 years have seen big increases in the numbers of young people completing a Senior Certificate, and radical changes in their reasons for doing so.

"From 2006 Queenslanders will need to be in education, training or work until they are 17, and this will cause another shift in the numbers completing senior and their reasons for doing it.

"It's vital that the rigour of the Senior Certificate is maintained, and that it serves the needs of young Queenslanders who complete it," Mr Beattie said.

Ms Bligh said: "The options for changing the Senior Certificate are part of the government's landmark 'learning or earning' reforms and represent the most significant changes since the 1970 Radford Report abolished external examinations."

She said the options include: * Requiring students to meet a minimum standard to qualify for a Senior Certificate

* Recording new areas of learning on the Senior Certificate such as learning done at university, in the workplace or a community organisation * Creating stronger links between the Senior Certificate and post-school pathways * Setting minimum literacy and numeracy standards to achieve the Senior Certificate * Creating more flexibility in the Senior Certificate to allow students to undertake their senior studies over different periods of time.

Ms Bligh said: "The proportion of 17 years olds receiving a Senior Certificate has more than doubled from 36.8% in 1982 to 74.7% in 2002.

"In 1910 when the Senior Certificate was first issued, it was only used for university entry," she said.

"Today just over a third of students who complete Year 12 go on to enrol at university.

"More young people are now moving into vocational education and training or straight into a job after they finish Year 12."

Ms Bligh said the Senior Certificate Project Consultation Paper, which was prepared by the Queensland Studies Authority, recognised these changes and responded to a number of recommendations made by University of Queensland adjunct professor John Pitman in a report on the Senior Certificate released by the government in 2002.

"The first question the discussion paper raises is whether the certificate should be a record of achievement or a qualification," she said.

"One option proposes to set a minimum level of achievement before a Senior Certificate is awarded.

"This would mean that some students would not receive a certificate. However making the Senior Certificate a qualification would bring Queensland into line with the majority of other states including Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and New South Wales, which require students to meet set requirements to qualify for a Senior Certificate."

Under Queensland's current system, to receive a Senior Certificate a young person must attend school for a period of time, record at least one achievement in an approved subject and be in attendance on the last day of Year 12.

Ms Bligh said: "I encourage parents, students, educators, training providers, employers and community members to provide feedback on the discussion paper and attend the public forums which will be held in regional centres across the state between June and August."

Submissions on the discussion paper are due by 20 August 2004.

The discussion paper is available on the Queensland Studies Authority website at www.qsa.qld.edu.au

Media Contact: Minister Bligh's office - Shari Armistead 3235 4593