The LEAP Program aims to demystify the links between school, university and professions.
LEAP seeks to encourage secondary students from low SES communities to consider Higher Education as a future option, through a focus on the professions. By offering access to a range of university campus, workplace and school-based activities along with online resources, LEAP aims to help students learn more about their career options in selected professions, and the role of university study in attaining their career goals. Business, Design, Engineering, Health, Law and Science are the six professional fields covered.
LEAP Program origins
In 2010 the eight Victorian Universities, the Victorian campuses of Australian Catholic University, and the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (now DET), the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria and Independent Schools Victoria formed a group and established a multilateral partnership agreement to support participation of students from low SES backgrounds in higher education.
The idea for the LEAP program was developed by this group and became a successful grant winner through the Commonwealth Government's Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP), receiving funds to establish the program in Victoria. The original grant period was from 2012 - December 2014.
LEAP organisational structure
The LEAP program is overseen by a Steering Committee of representatives from each partner organisation.
The activities and the web content for each LEAP profession area were developed by small project teams of specialists from the original nine partner universities. Those project teams in turn were each supported by an Advisory Group comprising teachers, professionals, industry representatives and university students. Project teams regularly review and refine activities and information content to maintain relevance.
LEAP Activity Design
The LEAP activities developed for each profession:
- Are sequential, addressing our two key activity foci (Understanding Professions, and Making it Happen) within each profession area.
- Are designed to allow students to progress through a hierarchy of activities as part of a Learner Progression Framework.
- Identify and communicate where entry and progression is linked to university study.
LEAP Program partnership - 2016
LEAP continues to operate Victoria-wide as a collaborative initiative. In 2016, LEAP is funded by Australian Catholic University (Vic.), La Trobe University, The University of Melbourne, Monash University and Victoria University. LEAP is supported by the Department of Education and Training, the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria, and Independent Schools Victoria (see LEAP Program partners), and continues to work cooperatively with Federation University Australia for delivery of activities to Victorian regional schools.
We are committed to securing the long term sustainability of the LEAP Program, and to the ongoing delivery of profession-based activities to widen participation of students from low SES backgrounds in higher education and the professions.
How we identify LEAP Priority Schools
Since 2012, approximately 278 State, Catholic and Independent schools in Victoria have been added to the LEAP Priority Schools list, based on the criteria that their Index of Community Socio Economic Advantage (ICSEA) was a value of 1000 or less in the most recent available data. To maintain an equitable approach and allow for year to year fluctuations, currently listed schools remain on the LEAP Priority Schools list, while other schools below the 1000 mark in the latest available ICSEA values will be added upon request.
Prioritising participation in activities
Where demand for activities exceeds capacity, priority for participation is given to schools with a current ICSEA value at or below 1000, and with a higher percentage of students in the bottom quartile based on student background.
LEAP activities are provided free of charge to all listed LEAP Priority Schools and their students. Delivery, location and timing are subject to budget and resource availability.
LEAP Travel Support (full or partial reimbursement of costs) is available to students or schools where the cost of travel is a barrier to participation, if their ICSEA data (2012 to latest available) shows the school to be generally at or below the ICSEA 1000 mark.
LEAP Performance 2012 - 2015
After LEAP's initial Program setup and Profession activity development/ trials in 2012, LEAP delivered a full three years of operations, commencing with four profession areas (Design, Engineering, Health and Law) and expanding in late 2013/ mid 2014, with the addition of Sciences, then Business.
By the end of 2015, over 26,900 students had participated in 673 events.*
Throughout Victoria, the proportion of school participation in all years was consistently - Regional schools (48%) and Metro schools (52%). Y9-10 students, being the main decision making years for careers, had the highest level of participation across the three years - Y9 students (40%, 43% and 39%) and Y10 students (27%, 28% and 24%).
Activities were delivered to students from 244 of the 278 LEAP priority Schools. Many schools attended multiple events during this period.
During this period LEAP consistently received very positive feedback from teachers and students:
- 83% of students found participation increased their knowledge of jobs in the professions
- Over 70% of students indicated the activities helped them learn about study options and pathways into the professions
- 98% of teachers indicated their students found the event attended interesting
- 91% of teachers stated the event attended allowed their students to link in-school learning to the real world
- 85% of teachers commented the event attended helped students understand the value of studying at university
- 99 schools had student participation in more than one activity
- 141 schools had student participation in four or more activities. (highest participation of any one school: 21 activities).
* Based on evaluations processed from events. Due to various factors, up to 60 further events were conducted where no evaluation sheets could be completed.