The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER: We have a strong ambition for South Australian students to be supported with the best education system in Australia. One of our commitments in this area was to undertake a review of the stage 2 requirements of the SACE. There were a number of useful reasons for a review. It has been a number of years since the new SACE was implemented—some six or seven years now—and it is time for a review. That is why the Liberal Party committed to this review prior to the election.
There are a number of key components to the review. The first is in relation to the number of subjects that are expected of our students at a year 12 level. When the expectation was that we go from five subjects to four subjects, there was indeed outcry from a number of teachers' organisations who saw the number of students undertaking their subjects, whether they be languages or geography or a range of others, diminish substantially to the point where we now have a very small number of students doing some of those subjects where we actually need to have workforce capacity with that skill set.
That is one of the factors that was feeding into it. One of the questions that has been raised is in relation to the research project. There were significant teething problems raised by many people in the community, but over the last seven years many schools—and I commend them for this—have invested significantly in ensuring that the research project is a valued part of the curriculum in their schools. Many schools now get great value out of it; however, others report that there are still things that they would rather do. It is operating differently in different schools. Some are doing it at a year 12 level, and it is 10 points at stage 2 of the SACE. Many schools are doing it at year 11. That is for many reasons.
They are offering it at year 11 so that potentially their students can do five subjects at year 12 and give themselves the best opportunity to achieve the results that they want. A number of them do it so that there are more flexible apprenticeship pathways available so that apprentices are not held back by the requirement to come back to school and do the research project if they are primarily on the job site. We want those young apprentices to get their SACE as well. We want more apprentices in our system because we have a skills need and, of course, there is almost a record low number of apprentices in our system at the moment.
The Minister for Industry and Skills is working hard to get that up. We want to ensure that the SACE is working very effectively with vocational education. Forty per cent plus of our students do a VET course as part of their year 12 requirements, yet we are not convinced that all those VET courses are leading to a job outcome. We want to ensure that all those VET courses that do lead to job outcomes as part of an apprenticeship are able to be counted towards their SACE for the training component, if that is possible, to ensure that we can have young people doing apprenticeships and getting their SACE.
But we also want to ensure that there is excellent capacity in the system for entrepreneurship and for academic excellence. The government is pleased to advise that Wendy Johnson, the principal of Glenunga International High School and vice president of the South Australian Secondary Principals' Association, an extremely highly regarded educator in South Australia, has agreed to undertake this review in the coming months.
There will be an opportunity for public submissions—stakeholder and expert submissions. Wendy Johnson's capacity and integrity cannot be held in anything but the highest of regard. She has most recently served the people of Australia as a panellist on the most recent Gonski review. That work has been recognised around the country. I am very pleased that Wendy has agreed to undertake this role. I am very pleased that she and the SACE Board are working with the government to deliver on this critical election commitment that will deliver excellent outcomes for the people of South Australia and in particular our students.