While the Higher School Certificate (HSC) examinations will proceed as usual in 2020, the ever-evolving situation of the coronavirus outbreak in Australia has forced Year 12 students to be flexible with their study routines.
Changes have been made to the number and weighting of formal assessment tasks and many high schools across the state are transitioning to full or partial online learning systems.
Year 12 students across NSW have generally welcomed the board’s decision.
“I am glad the HSC is continuing, to ensure that every student can receive a fair ATAR,” Gurnoor Kaur of Girraween High School told Indian Link. “I trust that the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) will take appropriate measures such as postponing the HSC slightly to ensure that it is conducted fairly and in a manner that is beneficial to all students.”
Although students are determined to continue their work for the examinations, many have expressed difficulty in studying at home instead of face-to-face learning at school.
“Maintaining focus at home can be challenging as the online system is still developing and has many errors,” said Pranav Patki, a Year 12 student at Chatswood High School.
His sentiments were echoed by Reyen Shah of Normanhurst Boys High, who said that it is difficult to learn and obtain help from teachers while following personalised schedules at home. Reyen also worried about the prospect of NESA guidelines discontinuing online face-to-face teaching, expressing that the decision would have “no pros, only cons.”
Students are not alone in their concerns about overcoming the challenges associated with online learning platforms. English Advanced HSC teacher Preeti Gupta, who instructs two classes, articulated the lack of class vibe and difficulty in translating lesson plans of 55 minutes into writing for students.
Nonetheless, Preeti remains hopeful. “In three decades of teaching, I have never had such a rapid rate of submission tasks. Two days in a row, I was hit with 50 emails within a couple of hours of setting work and asking for feedback,” Preeti said.
When she asked her students how they managed to finish their work so fast, their reply was that they “had no co-curricular commitments.”
With the advent of home-schooling, students are allowing for extra study time while proactively creating strategies to cope with transition in learning environments. Gurnoor, who has found it difficult to manage stress and anxiety in the current situation, is implementing simple activities into her routine such as playing with her pet, minimising exposure to the news and social media, and connecting with friends digitally. Pranav has also established set routines to complete each subject in an equal amount of time while citing the benefits of using a calendar and timetable.
As final year High School students attempt to adjust to the frequent policy changes by schools, the education board and the government, uncertainty continues to loom over the students and the broader community.
“I hope both the Department of Education and NESA will continue to make decisions in the best interest of students, and maintain communication with universities to ensure that this pandemic does not have a major impact on the future of young people,” Gurnoor said.
Getting through the HSC is a challenge for anyone in any year, but this year’s change in study conditions will be one that the class of 2020 will remember for the most unique reasons.