Kaylah can’t wait to get back to school

Kaylah Ward

As the region’s Year 12 students anxiously await news on when face to face learning will resume at Central Coast schools they are grateful to receive changes to the HSC timetable.

The NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) COVID-19 Response Committee announced on July 23 that written HSC exams would be pushed back a week to begin on October 19 with results out on December 17.

The extra week for preparation has been welcomed by HSC students who have been working from home since the start of Term 3 on July 12.

Kaylah Ward, 18, of Bateau Bay, said working from home since July 12 had “definitely been a huge challenge”.

“This week has been largely spent on finishing off content and doing revision – and it is all very much on me,” the Tuggerah Lakes Secondary College The Entrance campus student said.

“It’s difficult not to have teachers looking over our work as we do it.

“They give us work we have to complete daily and they give us advice and feedback via email but sometimes it’s hard to communicate exact ideas over email.”

Ward said the push back of written exams by one week was definitely a good thing.

“It gives us more time to hopefully prepare from the school grounds – more time with teachers to finalise questions,” she said.

“I’m really hoping for a return to school as soon as possible.

“Our trials are due to start in two weeks and they might be pushed back; it’s hard to prepare for the unknown.

“In most subjects I am feeling fairly well prepared, but not having the teacher there to make sure I am on the right track is what is causing the most stress.”

Ward said she hoped exams would not be pushed back any further.

“That could have a big impact on plans for after school (finishes),” she said.

“I have plans to go away with friends after the HSC, so fingers crossed that still happens.”

Other HSC changes announced by NESA include extending the hand-in date for all major projects by two weeks (Industrial Technology by four weeks) and rescheduling Drama performance exams to run from September 6-17.

Music performance exams are to continue as scheduled, running from August 30-September 10.

NESA Chair, Professor Peter Shergold, said students could still receive their results, ATAR and university offers this year despite written exams being delayed by a week.

“We know students want certainty about their exams; our priority is to limit disruption to HSC students,” he said.

“Our aim is to give students as much clarity as possible so they can focus on their studies, their goals and their personal wellbeing.

“We recognise that students and schools across the state are operating under a variety of different circumstances.

“We will outline a special illness and misadventure process and any other contingency arrangements needed to ensure equity and fairness for all students.”

CEO Paul Martin said the priority for NESA and the school sectors is providing considered advice to students that aligned with the health advice and is fair to the whole cohort.

“The changes to the exam timetables mean all students have some additional time to prepare for exams or complete their project,” he said.

“We learnt a lot about our processes in the HSC last year and I am confident that we can apply those lessons this year.”

Oral language exams have been rescheduled to start on August 14.

COVID-safe exam practices will be employed, including minimising school groups mixing, mandatory masks for everyone except the student during the exam, and perspex screens in place at the oral language exams.

“Markers, many of whom are teachers, have an enormous undertaking ahead of them,” Martin said.

“I want to thank the teaching profession for all that they have done this year to support students.

“I can assure markers and exam supervisors that their safety, as well as the students’, is our priority.”

Terry Collins