By Jed Lanyon
Every VCE student will be individually assessed for any adverse impacts of coronavirus to be reflected in ATAR rankings in a bid to ensure fair and accurate results for a school year like no other.
The State Government announced that the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA) will introduce a wide-ranging “Consideration of Educational Disadvantage” process to calculate VCE scores, taking into account disruptions to learning caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
In a normal year, individual students are assessed for special consideration on a case by case basis. This year, schools will provide the VCAA with information on every single one of their students.
These reforms will reach every Year 12 VCE student in the state, ensuring the experiences of the class of 2020 are factored into their results.
The State Government believes that the ATARs received by Victorian students will be equivalent to those received by students in other states.
Healesville High School Principal Allan Rennick said the announcement was a positive move by the Department of Education.
“We really appreciate it in that It will allow us to focus on supporting our kids, the teachers and learning,” he said.
“It’s been an incredibly difficult year, particularly for Year 12 students. It’s very easy for them to be thinking beyond the areas that we can control.
“So what we’re trying to do is to get the students to focus on what they can control and what we can control and leave things outside of our control to those who are professionals and responsible to those areas.”
Healesville High School messaging to staff, students and parents has been one of positivity during difficult and uncertain times.
“I’ve got a fantastic staff of teaching and non-teaching individuals and an incredibly supportive school community,” Mr Rennick said.
“We are really well positioned to deal with this, we’ve certainly got kids who are anxious or have anxiety levels higher than what they were previously, but we’re a positive, and strong, small community.
“The reality for this year’s Year 12’s is that they’re missing out on some things. An example might be the end of year graduation dinner. We have it booked and ready to go at the RACV Club, but there is no certainty come December that it will happen. So we’re really focusing on positive messages as much as we can.
“The positive is that they’re being supported by people here and the Department of Education and the Government. They will get their ATAR, their certificate and their study score this year and that’s fantastic. We just have to keep doing what we can to support them in every way.
“We have parents, staff members and kids all working together to make the absolute best of it.”
The Victorian Government’s announcement on 7 August also came with additional support for mental health resources for young people.
The State Government will be providing $28.5 million to ensure students can receive more support, including over 1500 school staff who will undergo additional mental health training in partnership with headspace, to help identify at-risk students as remote learning continues.
All specialist schools with secondary aged students will also receive funding to recruit a school-based mental health practitioner, who will provide wrap-around support to students and families.
“I know the very real stress and anxiety that many students and their parents are feeling. (This) announcement will mean one less thing to worry about,” said Education Minister James Merlino.
“With this additional support, we’ll make sure every student at every age has the support to be their best.”