Instead of doing work experience in year 10 like most NSW students, Francesco Demasi decided to develop a new course on game development for year 9 and 10 students that will soon be taught in schools.
"I came up with the idea because I saw the gap," said Francesco, 17, who is now in year 12 at Rooty Hill High School in Sydney's west.
"Year 8 is the last year you're forced to do ICT and the main problem we had [with the year 9 course] was that while it delivered all the content, it wasn't interesting.
"So we went from the normal way with teachers delivering the content and you doing it, to problem solving, with students getting a lot of options to do what they're passionate about as long as it followed the guidelines."
Teachers at the school submitted the course to the NSW Education Standards Authority, which has approved it as an elective that will begin being taught next year.
It is one of 151 School Developed Board Endorsed Courses being delivered at 350 NSW schools.
The fastest growing school developed elective, 'Integrated STEM', was chosen by 1029 students this year, a spokesman for NESA said.
Rooty Hill High's principal Christine Cawsey said about 25 students at the school will be studying the new game development course next year.
Francesco developed the course as part of a research initiative promoting student-led entrepreneurial learning at 10 NSW and nine Victorian high schools.
Run by Victoria University's Mitchell Institute, the program was built on education principles developed by international academic Yong Zhao that call for a shift in education through more personalised entrepreneurial learning that focuses on developing something new and can benefit communities.
The 19 schools involved in the program gave students the chance to identify problems and develop their own projects.
At Rooty Hill High, other projects included the development of low-cost meal plans that were distributed to the local community, a redesign of the school library and the installation of school gardens.
"It's a pretty groundbreaking study in Australia, schools just saw enormous benefits and saw it as a game changer," co-author of the final report on the program's findings, Bronwyn Hinz said.
"Collaboration is overtaking STEM skills as a vital skill for the future and this is looking at real ways that it can be done successfully."
Students said they wanted to go to school more because of the program, had a better relationship with teachers and developed new connections with other students and their local communities, as well as gaining teamwork, communication and financial skills.
Teachers involved said the program gave them more flexibility, opened up new pathways for students after school and increased students' confidence, according to the report.
Dr Hinz said similar programs already exist in Australia but many schools lack the support and resources to implement them properly.
At Rooty Hill High, the program replaced work experience for most students and Ms Cawsey said the school would continue to run it in coming years.
"We're now understanding that the old ways of working are not going to carry through when these students leave us," Ms Cawsey said.
"We're increasingly being told that you're not just going to go to university and get a job. We know it's a time of disrupted economy and what we're hoping to do is prepare our students for that as best we can by giving them the broadest range of skills."