How is VCAL structured?

VCAL can be undertaken at a Foundation, Intermediate or Senior level. Students complete the level/s that suit their skills and abilities; taking into account their literacy levels, interpersonal and organisational skills. Each level can be completed in one or two years.

Foundation is undertaken by recommendation of the Diverse Learning Team. It is for students who need extra support around literacy, interpersonal skills or self-management.

Senior is only available to Year 12 students and requires high levels of initiative, independence and organisation.

The VCAL has four curriculum areas, called Strands. These Strands are:

  • Literacy and numeracy skills
  • Industry specific skills
  • Work related skills
  • Personal development skills

You complete credits that contribute to all four strands. There is great variety in how this can be done, including VCAL units, VCE units, VET units and Structured Work Place Learning. Students are also expected to undertake extended projects that may include competencies from a number of units.

Transition into VCAL

For most students, VCAL starts in Year 11. There are very limited opportunities for students to switch into VCAL from VCE.

What is important to know about VCAL?

We expect families to be familiar with these principles before enrolling.

Project-based learning

A key component of VCAL is event management and project-based learning. This is a different approach to the study of specific, traditional units, such as Physics.

Our VCAL students are increasingly being engaged in activities where they work together to complete outcomes across units, based around a common project. This might be within the school or in a community partnership.

Why do we structure the program this way? To provide broader, deeper opportunities to learn. Project-based learning holds student interest for longer and creates transferable knowledge that is more readily applied to other practical settings.


The program is designed to be flexible and is structured around students’ interests. Students themselves are the driving force behind where the curriculum can go.

Where possible we tailor VCAL to individual aspirations.

Being flexible in our delivery encourages students to be more adaptable and responsive to change in the wider world.

Student-driven not teacher-led

VCAL student are not passive recipients of knowledge, they are expected to take control of their learning including:

  • suggesting topic and projects
  • including their experiences and learning from outside school
  • understanding and expressing how they learn best
  • negotiating learning and assessment styles, and due dates
  • identifying and working on the skills and knowledge they need for their future
  • maintaining portfolios and tracking their own progress

VCAL units have competency-based assessment, which means students are only assessed on whether they have a skill or are still working towards attaining that skill. They are not given a grade.

There is a lot of flexibility in how and when students may be assessed, and students are expected to take an active part in making those decisions.

If students include a VCE Unit as part of their program, they are expected to complete all assessments in that subject as published except exams.

  • VCE Units 1-2 VCAL student do all class assessments and may complete the end of semester exams as take home assessments at the discressioin of the subject teacher.
  • VCE Units 3-4 undertaken by a VCAL student as part of their program will be undertaken as ‘Atypical’ – no grades will be awarded for School-based Assessed Coursework (SAC). These students do not sit VCAA written examinations.

Homework is kept to a minimum.

As VCAL is an applied learning pathway, students use their time after school in paid employment, sport and exploring their own interests.

VET courses

Students must be enrolled in at least one VET unit.

This is compulsory requirement of the course. It is an opportunity to cultivate industry specific skills, attain a nationally recognised qualification and try out TAFE style learning.

Structured Workplace Learning

Students undertake a designated one-week block of work placement each term. Work placement is a compulsory and exciting element of the VCAL program at CCW, it provides students with an opportunity to learn about different workplaces, try out different occupations and develop a positive reputation amongst employers. Students are required to source and organise their own work placement, which is an important part of the learning process. There is also flexibility to undertake additional work placements by negotiation.


For each level completed (Foundation, Intermediate or Senior), students earn a VCAL certificate and a Statement of Results listing units obtained. Students also receive certificates for accredited short courses.