Accountabilities of schools and RTOs — Safety, wellbeing and engagement
The responsible parties in VET purchasing and auspicing arrangements have different duties in the safe planning and delivery of the VET qualification and/or units of competency. Schools and RTOs need to be aware of these accountabilities.
Duty of care — schools
School staff owe a duty of care in relation to their students. This duty of care requires that school staff take active and reasonable steps to reduce risks of reasonably foreseeable injury to their students.
These steps will include:
- when engaging an RTO to provide a VET qualification and/or units of competency to students, the school principal must undertake due diligence and enquiries to ensure that the provider will deliver a suitable and quality program and has systems, policies, procedures and safeguards in place to ensure students are safe and supported while undertaking the VET qualification and/or units of competency. This includes ensuring that the RTO:
- is properly registered with the VRQA or ASQA and the VET qualification and/or units of competency is on their scope of registration
- can provide a suitable and safe premises for students
- can provide an adequate supervision of students
- has teaching staff that are appropriately qualified
- has obtained Working With Children Checks for staff that will be supervising students
- implements strategies to prevent workplace discrimination, harassment and bullying
- can appropriately manage student disabilities, medical needs (having been provided by the school with student medical and treatment information) and welfare issues
- has appropriate emergency management plans and procedures in place
- ensuring that the RTO signs a standard Contract or Agreement
- ensuring that the RTO provides appropriate preparation for students prior to the commencement of the VET qualification and/or units of competency (e.g. requiring that students undertake relevant Occupational Health and Safety training)
- implementing strategies to ensure that school staff can identify and address any incidents or issues that may arise while a student is undertaking the VET qualification and/or units of competency. This should include:
- regularly checking in with students as to the progress of the VET qualification and/or units of competency and asking if they have any particular concerns
- nominating a school staff member/s for the student to contact regarding any issues the student may experience with their VET qualification and/or units of competency
- providing pastoral care and supports to address issues that may arise while undertaking the VET qualification and/or units of competency
- schools should also have a clear understanding of financial requirements and internal delivery of core responsibilities that continue (e.g. reporting, attendance, records management etc.)
The RTO must:
- provide a safe place of training
- provide supervision of the student consistent with the RTO code of conduct
- ensure it understands and complies with its obligations under the Contracts and Agreements
- provide the student with information and support about the training requirements being undertaken
- ensure all trainers providing training services to the school have undertaken a satisfactory police records check and a satisfactory Working With Children Check under the Worker Screening Act 2020 , unless the RTO is satisfied that such person is exempt under the Act from a check
- ensure all trainers comply with the requirements under the standards for RTOs registered with VRQA or ASQA
- report any student absences to the school in the first hour of training delivery or as agreed between the parties
Anaphylaxis management in schools
Anaphylaxis is a severe and sudden allergic reaction when a person is exposed to an allergen. The most common allergens in children are eggs, peanuts, tree nuts (e.g. cashews), cow's milk, fish and shellfish, wheat, soy, certain insect stings and medications.
Anaphylaxis is a serious health issue for a percentage of the population and the Department recognises the key to preventing an anaphylactic reaction by a student is knowledge, awareness and planning.
Ministerial Order 706: Anaphylaxis Management in Victorian is effective from 22 April 2014 and replaces Ministerial Order 90. The new Ministerial Order includes requirements that registered schools must meet if the school has enrolled a student where the school knows, or ought reasonably to know, that the student has been diagnosed as being at risk of anaphylaxis.
These requirements include having an anaphylaxis management policy covering matters described in Ministerial Order 706, and complying with the Anaphylaxis Guidelines, as developed by the Department.
Registered schools must meet these requirements as a condition of registration, in relation to the minimum standards and other requirements for school registration, and under Section 4.3.1(6)(c) of the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 .
For further information about Ministerial Order 706 or anaphylaxis management refer to the Department policy: Anaphylaxis
Further information can also be obtained by contacting the Royal Children’s Hospital Anaphylaxis Advisory Line on 1300 725 911.
Schools are advised to seek parental/carer approval for student participation in a VET qualification and/or units of competency where the delivery takes place outside the school or under the guidance of external staff.
Student health and engagement
The school should provide the RTO with a copy of the Student Engagement and Inclusion Guidance policy and the RTO should provide the school with its relevant polices relating to health, first aid, wellbeing, welfare and engagement. The school should be satisfied that school policy and RTO policy are in alignment.
Students are expected to attend the school in which they are enrolled, during normal school hours every day of each term, unless:
- there is an approved exemption from school attendance for the student or
- the student is registered for home schooling and has only a partial enrolment in a school for particular activities
A student is considered to be in attendance at school when involved in an offsite curriculum program or other activity organised by the school (for example an excursion or camp), or where the student is engaged in a re-engagement program or another school part time to make up full time attendance and the schools or settings have agreed the time fractions, allocation of Student Resource Package (or other funding) and the educational plan for the student.
Where there are arrangements for RTOs to deliver a VET qualification and/or units of competency on behalf of schools, schools should have clear processes in place to manage and respond immediately on the day to absences reported by parents and students, as well as absences that occur without prior notice.
Under purchasing arrangements the RTO must record and monitor the attendances and engagement of the students and report this back to the school.
Under auspicing arrangements, the school must record and monitor the attendances of the students and report this back to the RTO.
In relation to absences, it is recommended that the general process be followed as outlined.
Suggested process for managing explained and unexplained absences in VET qualifications and/or units of competency delivered at the RTO site or a site external to the school (e.g. another school, TTC/TSC etc.):
- Student or parent reports absence directly to the school.
- School reports absence to RTO Key Contact person or other nominated individual.
- RTO notifies relevant personnel.
- RTO/Host School becomes aware student is absent from their VET qualification and/or units of competency.
- RTO/Host School notifies Key Contact person or other nominated individual at the school.
- School follows up unexplained absence with student or parent.
- If absences remain unexplained, school to follow the Department policy on Attendance.
Students and Parents
Students and parents should always report absences directly to the school, not the RTO.
Where the school is notified of an absence by students or parents, the school should report the absence to the RTO Key Contact person or other nominated individual.
Where a student is absent from the RTO premises and the RTO has not been previously notified, the RTO should contact the School Key Contact person or other nominated individual at the school.
Further information on attendance is at: Attendance.
Excursions and Activities
There are a range of documents that have been prepared in relation to excursions and activities for school students. RTOs should speak directly with schools to ensure all policy requirements are met before finalising excursions and activities. Further information is available at Excursions.
Reviewed 16 February 2021