Workplace learning for secondary students in NSW public schools procedures

Direction and guidance on organising, running and reporting workplace on learning programs to help students contextualise their learning and achieve significant curriculum outcomes.

Audience

  • principals and school staff who facilitate workplace learning activities
  • students aged 14 or over enrolled in public secondary, central and schools for specific purposes
  • education and training organisations involved in providing workplace learning to students
  • external vocational education and training (EVET) providers
  • students undertaking vocational education training (VET) courses with a mandatory work placement component
  • community stakeholders involved in providing workplace learning
  • parents and carers
  • work placement service providers.
Version Date Description of changes Approved by
2.0.0 09/05/2024

Under the 2023 Policy and procedure review program, developed a new procedure consolidating existing instructions and improving clarity and readability.

The procedure consolidates information previously provided on the Career and Vocational learning website and the Workplace Learnings Procedures and Standards document.

Executive Director, Skills and Pathways

About the policy

Term Definition
Workplace learning programs Programs include, but are not limited to, work experience, work placement for HSC vocational education and training (VET) courses, career and entrepreneurial learning programs, community learning and student mentoring programs conducted by employers in the workplace.
External vocational education and training. (EVET) The NSW Government has approved a panel of registered training organisations to deliver a wide range of NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) endorsed VET courses.
Work placement service providers (WPSP) Non-government, not-for-profit organisations contracted to support and coordinate mandatory work placements for students undertaking HSC VET courses within a specified service region.
Student placement record (SPR) This must be completed and signed by the student, host employer, parent or carer and school, and where relevant, the EVET provider.
Registered training organisations (RTO) Deliver nationally recognised training in the VET sector.

What needs to be done

Workplace learning programs provide students with a general introduction to the world of work. These include but are not limited to:

  • work experience – students can observe a variety of work, usually in a field of their choice, and undertake supervised tasks appropriate to their knowledge and skill level
  • work placement – is a mandatory component of a range of the Higher School Certificate (HSC) VET courses. Students can observe a variety of work in their chosen industry area and undertake supervised tasks appropriate to their knowledge and skill level.

1. Incorporating ongoing essential requirements

Principals need to incorporate the following requirements when planning for workplace learning programs. These must be embedded in the program and upheld by stakeholders.

1.1 Duty of care for students

The department and external vocational education and training (EVET) providers must, through their delegated officers, take reasonable care to keep students undertaking workplace learning safe.

Students’ duty of care rests with the school and, where relevant EVET providers, and extends to workplace learning placements even when there is no direct daily supervision of the student by a school or EVET provider staff.

Duty of care also applies wherever students are engaged in authorised workplace learning programs. The application of duty of care is complex in relation to workplace learning because the learning location is external to the classroom, and there is dependence on non-department staff for the daily supervision of the student in the workplace.

Schools and EVET providers must document how they have applied the duty of care procedures (as per the Student placement record (PDF 850 KB).

1.2 Student health and safety

The department and the host employer hold a concurrent duty under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of students while engaged in a workplace learning program.

This duty:

  • requires reporting incidents that involve the safety of school students, including a near miss, while they are undertaking workplace learning
  • requires the elimination of health and safety risks where possible. If risk elimination is not reasonably practicable, the risk must be minimised as far as is reasonably practicable
  • includes a mutual responsibility for host employers, the school and the EVET provider to consult, cooperate and extends to all students and any staff on workplace learning placements.

Along with the EVET provider, the school retains a duty of care while students are undertaking an HSC VET course delivered by an EVET provider.

Working with children checks (WWCC)

Child-related workplaces are the subject of legislation that prevents unsuitable people from working with young people. Refer to:

1.3 Educational requirements and benefits of workplace learning

Workplace learning programs must be designed to achieve curriculum outcomes and enhance vocational, educational and social development of students.

The school or EVET provider must have the capacity to support workplace learning.

1.4 Approvals of workplace learning programs

School principals and, where relevant, the responsible EVET provider manager have the primary responsibility for approving workplace learning programs.

School principals and, where relevant, the responsible EVET provider manager:

  • must take reasonable steps to ensure that students, staff, community partners, parents and carers, and host employers are aware of their responsibilities in the implementation of workplace learning programs
  • are responsible for authorising a workplace learning program for enrolled students
  • are responsible for ensuring that a program is conducted as per the department’s Workplace learning for secondary students in NSW public schools policy
  • may delegate the development of the program to nominees, including the approval of placements, but they take ultimate responsibility for the approval of the workplace learning program.

1.5 Mandatory requirements of HSC VET courses

Mandatory work placement programs must be designed to meet the requirements of NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) HSC VET course content, which includes the hours for mandatory work placement.

Student competency in HSC VET courses is assessed as part of their HSC and contributes to an Australian Qualification Framework VET credential. Work placement supports the development, enhancement and assessment of student competency in an authentic industry setting.

1.6 Communication with stakeholders

Successful workplace learning programs depend on the willing participation of various stakeholders and schools, which can foster communication with stakeholders.

Schools should:

  • foster regular and effective communication with parents, carers and host employers, directly and through work placement service providers
  • communicate via personal visits, newsletters, meeting, or other effective approach they see fit to maintain and/or enhance the relationship of stakeholders.

1.7 Insurance and indemnity provisions

Information about insurance and indemnity provisions can be found on the Career learning and vocational education website. Go to the insurance heading. For further assistance, contact the Career and Workplace Learning team.

2. Planning workplace learning programs

The school or an EVET provider initiate workplace learning programs. The principal and the responsible EVET provider approve these programs in consultation with the school. These programs involve the cooperative engagement of local employers, business and industry, community agencies, registered training organisations (RTOs) and parents or carers. Work placement service providers (WPSPs) are key partners in implementing work placements that are mandatory as part of a range of HSC VET courses.

Roles and responsibilities for each stakeholder is detailed below.

Principals and EVET provider managers:

  • monitor and evaluate workplace learning programs
  • ensure the implementation of workplace learning programs are reported annually, or as required
  • report incidents involving the safety of school students, including near misses, while they are undertaking workplace learning in accordance with the departments Incident notification and response policy
  • take reasonable steps to ensure students, staff, community partners, parents and carers, and host employers are aware of their responsibilities in implementing workplace learning programs
  • must ensure that students with disability are provided with opportunities on the same basis as other students. This includes identifying and liaising with the workplace about providing reasonable adjustments or support.

Principals:

Any delegated staff, including non-teaching staff, who facilitate or support workplace learning programs within the school.

Delegated staff must:

Workplace learning provides a general introduction to the world of work. Students have a role to play in making this experience positive, so they need to understand their responsibilities in the workplace.

Students must:

Parents or carers must:

  • understand the purpose and nature of workplace learning programs outlined in The workplace learning guide for parents and carers (PDF 1047 KB)
  • attend information sessions or meetings that are relevant to their young person
  • consider, comment and provide permission for their young person to take up each planned placement
  • understand that the school principal, or the EVET manager in consultation with the school, is responsible for the placement approval. This might on occasion override the planning and approval by the parent or carer because of prohibited activities, school calendar commitments or placement falling outside of school term dates
  • assist their young person to plan and manage safe travel arrangements during and outside normal school hours.

The work placement service providers role is to:

  • ensure host employers assess any risks to the health and safety of students in the proposed activities (as stated on the Student placement record (PDF 850 KB)), remove, or minimise those risks as far as is reasonably practicable, and assess the quality of workplace learning experiences
  • provide host employers information about ‘Prohibited activities’ and ‘Activities for special consideration’, refer to Prohibited and activities for special consideration (PDF 145 KB).
  • ensure host employers understand and can make appropriate (and reasonable) adjustments for students with disability, or with identified health condition/s
  • promote the benefits to the employer of hosting a student for workplace learning
  • provide and explain mandatory support documents to host employers, including the department’s expectations and requirements in relation to child protection
  • ensure the host employer is aware of the purpose, process and outcomes of the placement so they are better able to deliver a positive learning experience for the student
  • ensure the host employer is aware of obligations regarding non-payment of students on placement and that, in the event of an industrial dispute, the placement is suspended or postponed
  • clarify and document lines of communication between the stakeholders, but most importantly between the host employer, the workplace supervisor and the workplace learning program coordinator at the school or EVET provider.

Host employers are responsible for:

  • reading and understanding information provided in The workplace learning guide for employers (PDF 1047 KB)
  • completing the Host Employer section of the provided Student placement record (PDF 850 KB)
  • identifying potential risks to students and any school or EVET/work placement service provider staff (where relevant) and implementing strategies to minimise or eliminate these risks reasonably. Inexperienced and potentially vulnerable students are particularly at risk, so it is important to pay special attention to areas such as plants, products, and substances in the workplace
  • informing their employees of their responsibilities when working with children and young people
  • ensuring they have current public liability coverage.

A key feature of workplace learning that differentiates it from learning in the classroom or excursions is the range of non-school stakeholders participating in the activity as coordinators, brokers, and subject matter experts. All stakeholders are:

  • responsible for the implementation of workplace learning programs. It is the duty of the principal or the responsible EVET provider manager to take reasonable steps to ensure that stakeholders are aware of and prepared to take on their responsibilities
  • obligated under common law to take reasonable steps to minimise the risks to students during workplace learning.

Communication processes must be established to:

  • enhance collaboration between the work placement service providers, schools and EVET providers, and the Public Schools NSW registered training organisations
  • ensure each stakeholder’s role in the provision of workplace learning is effective and complementary to the entire process.

3. During workplace learning programs

Even though students are not at school, the school and EVET provider remain responsible for their wellbeing and safety while they are participating in workplace learning.

3.1 Supporting workplace learning programs

Site visits have clear benefits for students, teachers and host employers but are not mandatory. It is pertinent to consider the student’s needs and the appropriate support

Principals should ensure that staff have the resources to contact students and host employers on the first or second day of placements to check on their progress and wellbeing.

School staff include any delegated member of the school’s staff, including non-teaching staff, who facilitate or support workplace learning programs within the school.

Staff are responsible for:

  • carrying out and documenting supervisory contact on day one or two of the placement with both the student and the workplace supervisor or host employer. This is to check student’s wellbeing and review their progress. Staff can either diary note this or use the Workplace Learning Contact Form (PDF 113 KB)
  • contacting either by phone or, if practical, a site visit by the responsible teacher.

Students are required to:

  • pay for their travel to and from placements
  • attend the workplace at the arranged time and have required Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and equipment where required
  • inform both the host employer and your teacher as soon as possible if unable to attend the workplace
  • follow the directions of their supervisor in the workplace
  • communicate concerns, injuries or accidents that have occurred in the workplace to their supervisor and school or EVET provider as soon as possible and ideally within 24 hours.

Host employers must:

  • provide a safe and positive environment compliant with:
  • provide a workplace induction, including relevant safety matters to orientate students before they start any activities
  • provide appropriate learning activities and skill development tasks for the student under the supervision of a capable and trustworthy employee who is briefed on the tasks to be undertaken
  • notify the school or EVET provider immediately of any incidents involving or compromising the safety of a student while on placement, including near misses, to enable the relevant department to fulfil their work health and safety obligations
  • provide adequate facilities for the student’s wellbeing in the workplace
  • provide a culturally safe and supported working environment for Aboriginal students. Refer to the Diversity and inclusion webpage for more information.

Parents and carers must:

  • be available in case of an emergency or where relevant, nominate another reliable adult trusted and known to the student to be the contact in place of the parent or carer:
    • during school hours
    • for Years 11 and 12, this may extend to outside normal business hours
  • remove their young person from the host workplace if contacted by the student outside normal business hours because the student has concerns about their safety or wellbeing
  • report any safety and wellbeing incidents by calling the listed school teacher or EVET provider as soon as possible after the incident has occurred.

3.2 Reporting incidents or injuries

When an incident and or injury occurs, the school must follow the following steps:

  • complete and keep a formal incident report
  • phone the department’s Incident Report and Support hotline on 1800 811 523
  • report the incident within 24 hours
  • ensure incidents and injuries are reported in accordance with the department’s Incident notification and response policy.

The EVET provider needs to immediately advise the student’s school by phone and email to enable the school to complete the department’s incident report and follow their organisation's mandatory reporting procedures if a child protection concern is raised.

4. Following workplace learning programs

After the workplace learning program, school staff (as outlined below) need to review the student’s experiences and ensure the placement was valuable, with no negative incidents.

School staff (delegated staff members, including non-teaching staff, who facilitate or support workplace learning programs within the school) are responsible for carrying out:

  • post-placement sessions with students to review the experience and optimise the learning
  • post-placement interviews to allow safety concerns, inappropriate and negative incidents to be reported if they were not reported during the program.

Students are responsible for:

  • participating in a post placement discussion with your teacher
  • returning workplace journal or attendance documents where relevant.

Host employers are responsible for:

  • providing feedback to student
  • supporting the student to complete their workplace journal or attendance documents where relevant.

Parents discuss the placement with young person and report any identified issues to the school.

Record-keeping requirements

Refer to sections 1.0.1 and 3.0.1 in the Functional Retention and Disposal Authority: FA387 (PDF 106 KB) for information on retaining and disposing of records.

Mandatory tools and templates

The mandatory documents below provide detailed information for stakeholders on the practical, responsible, and legal processes that contribute to sound and compliant workplace learning programs.

Supporting tools, resources and related information

Policy contact

Student Pathways Adviser, Career Programs
02 7814 3393

Leader, Career and Workplace Learning
Career Programs
0436 804 282
CareerWorkplaceLearning@det.nsw.edu.au

The Executive Director, Skills and Pathways monitors the implementation of this procedure, regularly reviews its contents to ensure relevance and accuracy, and updates it as needed.

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