Graduation, formals and schoolies taken from HSC students. But the exams remain.

A small bit of certainty but a lot of uncertainty

On Friday the NSW government settled on a delayed start date for the HSC of November 9, which is when authorities believe vaccination coverage will be high enough to guarantee a safe exam period for both students and supervising staff.

“As Education Minister I want as many students as possible to show us what they know through the written exams… We are all supporting the Year 12 students to get their HSC.” – Sarah Mitchell.

The government also announced that all school staff will be required to be vaccinated to increase safety (an unvaccinated Californian primary school teacher who came to work while visibly sick infected a dozen students with COVID-19, according to a report.)

I am sure that this news is not of any great comfort to you. An example of the reaction of one of your peers in the SMH was:

“At the start of the recent lockdown, we could have reasonably expected that someone would have prepared a plan, perhaps by the beginning of the school year, as a contingency for the HSC in the event of another outbreak. So far, other than vaccination, the only idea emerging from the government is to delay the HSC again — make us wait another two weeks (after already waiting 12 years).

That doesn’t sound like a plan. The one sure thing we know (at the moment) is that the commencement date for the HSC has been pushed even further back. The uncertainties are, when you will be allowed back on campus, what the exam timetable will be and what examinations will actually be sat and marked. As a result, the NSW government’s school report card for the Class of 2021 must read as follows:

Completes set tasks by due date: Unsatisfactory
Is well-prepared and organised: Unsatisfactory

We do know that the NESA group that advises the government (with representatives from public schools, Independent schools and Catholic schools) have been asked to look into a number of options including:

  • Will all examinations be held and marked?
  • Will some examinations in some subjects not be required?
  • Will only key examinations (especially English) be held?

How will it all be resolved? Well…..

There will be pressure from schools who have already been locked down for nine weeks, and may not be allowed back on campus before the exams, for the whole examination process to be abandoned this year.

There will be pressure to give students the chance to show what they have learned and what skills they have developed over 13 years in all their subjects.

There will be more statistics, more press conferences and more bad news.

There may be more changes, backflips and confusion.

There will be backroom negotiations where health advice, political imperatives and organisational options are thrown to determine what your final weeks of school will look like.

Who will win this particular showdown is unknown. It feels a bit like going through this: 

So, like you, your school waits for those who have control of our HSC fates to:

  • give a firm ‘return to campus’ date for our region (LGA), 
  • produce a solid HSC timetable, 
  • give us a list of which subjects will actually be examined this year, and
  • tell us how the universities will assess your capacity for success at tertiary level. 

Like you, we are constantly adapting our timetables and organisational plans to meet the requirements we work under.

Leaders considering rule changes as we’re told to expect longer lockdowns.

At the moment, here is the good news:

  • There are schools and students in Sydney who would love to be in your situation here at SCAS and in Port Macquarie;
  • For the “slow starters” you now have an extra few weeks to get your knowledge and skills together;
  • We will use the Trial Examinations to inform your further improvement;
  • Your teachers are putting together a program that will continue to grow your potential to do well in whatever shape the HSC finally takes.

Our advice is:


And remember, you have a choice:

Thinking will not overcome fear, but action will. Control what you can, do what you can and, whatever they throw at you, you will know that you have done your best.

Or you can just blame everybody else for what you didn’t do and didn’t achieve……

Your call.

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