I’m not too sure why some teachers don’t like VCAL. I love it.
I’ve heard many people snigger when I say I teach VCAL and it genuinely upsets me that people feel this way.
My opinion is that some schools have lost the integrity of the VCAL program and it has become a ‘dumping ground’ for students not capable of passing VCE. To me, this is unfair. Unfair on those wanting to do VCAL for their genuine pathway, and unfair on those students who have failed VCE.
I’ve heard many Year 10 students say ‘I’m doing VCAL cos it’s easy’. One such student who said this in front of me had their subject selection form ripped up in front of them. I told them in no uncertain terms that VCAL was not easy. I told them to come back to me when they’d had a think about why they wanted to do VCAL.
Some students honestly believe that VCAL is easy. Not in my class. I have high expectations and I expect that all work is to be completed and that students must attend to pass. I tell the students at the start of the year, and constantly remind them, that if they want the ‘easy’ way out, that’s fine, but they won’t be passing my subject. They soon come to the conclusion that if they don’t pass my subject, they won’t get their certificate.
I love how VCAL requires EVERY subject to be passed, I often tell my students that VCAL is harder than VCE as they need to pass VET, WRS, PDS, Numeracy AND Literacy to get their certificate. “Those kids in VCE? Well, they can fail a unit here and there and still get a certificate, not you guys!” – One of my favourite lines.
So why do I love VCAL so much?
What’s not to love?
I get to write my own curriculum. I get to plan and implement programs that I am genuinely interested in. I get to teach teenagers ‘how to do life’ properly. I can sit there for 50 minutes just chatting to a student in need. I get to on many excursions (usually to places I want to go). I can change my lesson in an instant if I think it is bombing. I can keep going with a topic if the students are engaged. I get to teach and inspire kids who, sometimes through no fault of their own, are deemed ‘un-teachable’. I love seeing the students develop from ‘lazy bugger’ to ‘mate, that’s an awesome job’ kind of student and I love when I get emails from parents like this –
“I recently saw Ralph* truly engaged at school when he worked as a team member of the group researching and presenting the ‘out door school room’ concept**. The conversation at home was wonderful” – email from a parent
If I can make an impact on just one student, then I’m happy.
That’s why I love VCAL.
*Ralph is not his real name.
** I’ll talk about this project in a later blog post