The Victoria Institute

Supporting staff in flexible & inclusive learning programs

This collaborative industry project investigates professional learning (PL) opportunities for staff working directly with young people in flexible and inclusive learning programs (or schools) (FILPs) at secondary school level in Victoria, Australia. There are three key considerations that underpin the development of this project.

  • These settings provide educational opportunities, qualifications and pathways for young people who, for varied and complex reasons, have disengaged from or sought alternatives to traditional schooling models.
  • Their staff may include teachers, youth workers, teachers’ aides, counsellors, social workers and others.
  • This is a growing sector, recognised as playing a crucial role as an ‘incubator’ for innovative and engaging schooling.

High quality staff are the greatest asset of FILPs. Their commitment to working in inclusive ways is critical to the engagement and success of students. They have to work differently to traditional approaches adopted in many school settings, and taught in many pre-service qualifications.

Professional learning, therefore, has a significant role to play in the transformation of thinking and practice necessary for more socially inclusive schooling, and access to PL opportunities for staff in FILPs is essential to maintain and develop a quality workforce.


The research aims to develop an understanding of how staff in FILPs learn to work in socially inclusive ways with a diversity of young people who have disengaged from or sought alternatives to traditional schooling models. This is done in order to better support the PL of staff in FILPs as well as to advance an understanding of PL for socially inclusive schooling more broadly.

To do this, the project examines the (1) availability, (2) quality, and (3) possibly improvement of professional learning to support educators in flexible and inclusive learning programs, by asking:

  • what professional learning opportunities exist in Victoria to support staff in FILPs to work in socially inclusive ways?
  • how well these professional learning opportunities are working?
  • how this professional learning provision can be enhanced?


The project led to:

  • a user-friendly directory of PL provision for staff in FILPs in Victoria – hosted by the Victorian Applied Learning Association (VALA)
  • models of PL that work well for staff in FILPs
  • recommendations for enhancing PL provision for FILPs
  • insight in the potential of PL for social inclusive schooling from the perspective of FILP staff
  • knowledge transfer to improve socially inclusive schooling across all schools.

Download the final project report.

Project team

  • Dr Vicky Plows (Chief Investigator, The Victoria Institute)
  • Professor Kitty te Riele (Chief Investigator, The Victoria Institute)
  • Karen Rosauer (Research Officer, The Victoria Institute)
  • Dave Wells (Partner Investigator, Melbourne City Mission)

Funding & partners

This project has received funding and support from the Victoria University Central Research Grants Scheme and the following industry partners:


For further information contact:

Dr Vicky Plows
Phone: +61 3 9919 1841
Email: [email protected]

Professor Kitty te Riele
Phone: +61 3 6226 6705
Email: [email protected]