Our resilient Year 12 students
At the start of this year I addressed our Year 12s with a great sense of optimism about what lay ahead of them. At that stage, we had been largely free of restrictions since November, except for a brief reduction in gathering numbers and a mask mandate on New Years Eve. Things were certainly looking up and we felt that there was a good chance that the Class of 2021 would experience a year of on-campus learning and peak experiences that characterise the final year of schooling. Perhaps a harbinger of things to come, was the announcement of snap restrictions that prevented our hosting a full in-person Back to School Service. Sadly, this has become the pattern of the year – a year that has not panned out as we had hoped. Like the rest of our community, the cohort have experienced continued disruptions and repeated and on-going lockdowns. Unlike the rest of us, they have done so with the worry and uncertainty of doing so while striving to achieve their potential and maximise their chances of entry to their preferred tertiary courses.
While we have learnt to take nothing for granted and, as such, have felt blessed to be able to deliver Purim, Yom Ha’atzmaut, the Formal and the Senior Musical, there is no sugar-coating the fact that our Year 12s have had to bear additional stress. Despite this the Class of 2021 have shown incredible levels of resilience and positivity have maintained an interest and focus in school life and have set the tone for the rest of the school community to follow.
I want to pay tribute to a truly remarkable year level, who had already made us proud for their exemplification of the School’s values, but have truly excelled in their mature, flexible and optimistic approach to adversity.
Of course, none of this could have been achieved without the VCE teachers’ hard work, thoughtfulness and care in looking after the students’ academic and broader wellbeing needs.
The Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA) have announced that the Consideration of Educational Disadvantage process (CED) will be applied again in 2021 in order to ensure that the Class of 2021’s disadvantage is minimised. The process runs separately to the Special Entry Access Scheme (SEAS) which allows for special consideration to be taken into account in relation to tertiary course entry for those who have suffered unique hardship or challenges during their final year of schooling. Instead, the CED is intended to apply to all students and appreciates that every student undertaking Unit 3 & 4 studies have been disadvantaged due to the pandemic.
The process provides for students to communicate how they have been impacted by things beyond their control and requires teachers to consider this in their marking. This can, for example, address a disadvantage that may have been exacerbated by the practical nature of a particular subject that has made it less adaptable to on-line delivery, or the unique distractions due to technology issues or from having been placed in isolation after attending an exposure site.
Once applied, a student’s results may not just reflect their performance but also consideration of how they were likely to perform but for the specific disadvantage that has been inflicted due to the pandemic.
In my view, the process has its challenges. It is difficult to objectively assess how a student might have, rather than actually performed and also to attribute any under-performance to the specific events that form the basis of the application. Nonetheless, I am pleased that despite the potential inexactitude, the VCAA has committed to doing what it can to reduce the impact on our graduates.
In the midst of a really difficult time, it perhaps sounds pollyannaish to perpetually focus on positives. However, I have no doubt that the courage and grit that our Year 12 students have demonstrated this year will not only help them to overcome the vicissitudes of their future lives but the cohort’s response fills me with confidence that at the end of this year we will be graduating a class of menschen – of kind and good souls – who will continue to do us proud.