We’re working for a just and inclusive education system that supports students to continue and complete their education and realise their potential.


Students in Australia perform reasonably well by international standards, however Indigenous students, those living in remote locations and students from the lowest socioeconomic backgrounds are well below the OECD average.

Many are at serious risk of disengaging from school and dropping out of education altogether.

This has lifelong consequences.

BSL supports the development of approaches that enable students of all ages experiencing disadvantage to successfully engage in education.

For example, we build participation in early childhood education by equipping parents in their capacity as first teachers and strengthening the home learning environment.

We support transitions to and through school by preventing and addressing disengagement. Additionally, BSL informs the development of high support flexible learning options and cutting-edge teaching techniques for vulnerable young people.

Our recent work in this area includes:

  • research into flexible learning options across Australia
  • exploring community attitudes to education in regional Victoria
  • research into middle years re-engagement
  • evaluating BSL programs such as the David Scott School for over 120 young people seeking to overcome disrupted education, and HIPPY

Find all recent publications on Education (2000–present)

Visit the BSL library for our prior research on Education (pre 2000)


The majority of young people do not attend university. They rely on vocational education and training (VET) to equip them with the skills and qualifications demanded by our contemporary and future labour market.

However, Australia’s publicly funded VET system faces key challenges. Aggressive marketisation has led to waste, reduced quality and undermined trust. Outcomes for equity groups have gone backwards.

The VET system is not developing the skilled workforce our nation needs, and there is a mismatch of employment opportunities and jobseekers.

BSL’s work informs significant ongoing VET reforms – nationally and in Victoria. Our research focuses on improving outcomes for learners and communities experiencing disadvantage while advocating for a quality vocational education system that is underpinned by public provision.

We explore the complementary roles of Adult Community Education and the community sector and provide evidence for changing the qualifications, curriculum and teaching approaches within the system.

Our research aims not only to better engage learners, but also to build capabilities and strengthen social and economic participation.

SPARC’s work in this area includes:

  • membership of key government advisory forums
  • development of submissions and policy proposals
  • research for the National Centre for Vocational Education Research into engagement issues for 15–19 year-olds involved in vocational training
  • research into vocationally oriented flexible learning options across Australia
  • evaluations of BSL programs such as the David Scott School delivering the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning to over 120 young people seeking to overcome disrupted education

Find all recent publications on Training (2000–present)

Visit the BSL library for our previous research on Training (pre 2000)

External publication

Clarke, K 2022, ‘ All things to all people ’, Griffith Review 75: Learning Curves

Team presentations

Co-designing a foundational training offer for young people  (PDF 1.1 MB)
Author: Madeleine Morey
Date: April 2023
Event: AVETRA Conference

Future-proofing the training system for enabling climate adaptation and mitigation: skills for the green transition (PDF 1.4 MB)
Authors: Kira Clarke and David Longley
Date: 17 August 2022
Event: NYEB System Design Workshop

Strengthening the role of vocational training for young people (PDF 3 MB) 
Authors: Kira Clarke, David Longley and Madeleine Morey
Date: April 2022
Event: AVETRA Conference

The missing piece: Anchoring VET in place for young people (PDF, 3 MB)
Authors: Shelley Mallett and Diane Brown
Date: July 2019
Location: University of Melbourne

Factors enabling engagement with VET for early school leavers (PDF, 309 KB)
Authors: George Myconos and Stephanie Yung
Date: July 2016
Event National Vocational Education and Training Research ‘No Frills’ Conference, Central Queensland University, Rockhampton

Approaches to supporting young disadvantaged learners in VET (PDF, 1 MB)
Authors: George Myconos
Date: September 2015
Event: Australian Social Policy Conference, Sydney

Navigating VET: ‘at risk’ youth and re-engagement programs (PDF, 823 KB)
Authors: George Myconos
Date: July 2012
Event National Vocational Education and Training Research ‘No Frills’ Conference, Adelaide

Selected publications

Selected projects

Cropped image of man examining harvest at cereal f 2023 11 27 05 11 13 utc SMALL

This applied research initiative will test a place-based approach to the interconnected challenges of rural workforce shortages, sustained youth unemployment and declining efficacy of existing agricultural training programs.

Learn more
Serious boy in casualwear sitting on couchette pre 2023 11 27 05 01 07 utc SMALL

A research project evaluating three new Education First Youth Foyers in Victoria

Learn more
Young and senior woman holding each other hands to 2023 11 27 05 17 00 utc SMALL

Developing a pathway for young people into aged care and disability support

Learn more
Multi cultural team in workshop assembling hand bu 2023 11 27 05 12 08 utc small

This research examined the role of private registered training organisations in delivering training to young people who have left school early.

Learn more
Delighted young friends cuddling and smiling at ca 2023 11 27 05 23 47 utc SMALL

What are some keys to helping young people to gain planning and independent living skills?

Learn more
Student studying in the university 2023 11 27 05 23 25 utc small

A project giving young people the freedom to take photographs that represent their experiences of education or employment

Learn more

Looking for services related to education and training?

Smiling young woman participating in group learning activity

Creating Futures for Youth empowers young people to pursue their career goals and build their capacity to work or undertake further learning.

Learn more
HIPPY participant father and child

HIPPY – the Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters – is a free two-year early-learning program that empowers parents and carers to be their children’s first teacher in their homes.

Learn more
David Scott School students in school grounds

Our David Scott School is a registered, independent school for disadvantaged young people. It opened its doors in early 2017 to Year 10, 11 and 12 students.

Learn more
Smiling young man participating in group learning activity

Our Youth Transitions Support Pilot Program helps young refugees participate in the community through work, education and sport.

Learn more
Three young smiling people outside BSL Kangan youth foyer

Education First Youth Foyers are integrated learning and accommodation centres that develop the skills of young people at risk of homelessness.

Learn more
One woman being interviewed by another

The Better Futures service is a new way of supporting young people who are making the transition from out-of-home care to independence.

Learn more