This paper reports on a three-year project into vocational education and equity in senior secondary schooling in New South Wales, which was completed in 2003 (Crump & Connell, 2003). The research explored the relationship between vocational education and training (VET) and young people’s futures, by investigating the reforms to the New South Wales external Year 12 examination: the Higher School Certificate (HSC), in which VET courses gained a new and more challenging profile. The intent of the 'Securing Their Future' reforms was to make secondary curricula more socially inclusive and thus to set up young people with broader options for lifelong learning and employment, an aim also articulated in the New South Wales 'Charter for Equity in Education and Training' (New South Wales Department of Education and Training, 1996). This aim was to be achieved by reducing distinctions between senior subjects that tended to separate VET in Schools students from others, mainly through matriculation status. This article indicates how these reforms to matriculation in New South Wales so far only weakly counter a 'poverty of expectations' about lifelong learning options in the senior school through the description of a case study from a set of eight schools investigated.
Vocal Journal: the Australian Journal of VET in School Vol. 5, p. 1-5