This week will see the remaining schools across Australia’s states and territories return in very different formats due to the coronavirus pandemic. The new norm of attending school has added to the anxiety of final year students as they embark on the most critical period of their education.
Preview above: Insight talks to cooped up families and finds out how they are managing home-schooling and what it will mean for the future. Tuesday, 8:30pm.
Some state governments are offering remote learning for the whole of term two, while others have firm plans for students to return to classrooms – but, for students hoping to complete their high school certificates this year, this unexpected situation hasn’t eased their anxieties.
Isabella Mavlian, 17, is studying for her HSC at an independent school in New South Wales and despite her access to learning devices and her mum, Julie being a teacher, she fears she might have already missed too much.
“Being in the senior years of school, the content that you miss, just from not being at school, is an incredible amount,” Isabella told Insight.
“HSC in general is pretty stressful, but then because we have to learn most of our content online at the moment the teachers aren’t there to help you first hand with a lot of the stuff and it’s harder to ask them questions.”
Earlier this month, all state and federal education ministers agreed that students will receive an ATAR score this year – ruling out the possibilities of a ‘Year 13’ or mass repeating.
Like Isabella, many students remain anxious about how the challenges of learning under the cloud of coronavirus will impact their grades and futures. She says that remote learning has sapped her motivation considerably and this is a feeling shared by many of her peers.
“Some people have just given up completely, others are like, I don’t really know, do I try?... and then there are other people who are still trying really hard, which is great.”
Muhammad Shaheer, 17, relates to that gulf of motivation while he attempts to complete his final year via remote learning.
After admittedly breezing through the previous year, Muhammad had been putting more effort into his studies to get the ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank) score he needs to secure an offer for a law degree.
“The motivation is gone because you’re not in class or in that school environment where everyone's pushing and doing work and helping each other, at home who am I going to do it with?” Muhammad said.
Now attempting to attend school via Zoom sessions and finding his classmates aren’t taking them seriously, Muhammad worries the pandemic may have jeopardised his career plans.
“This year I’m aiming for an above 90 ATAR, I need that to get into law, as soon as this thing happened it all crumbled down…It’s really ruined my plans and put me down.”
Rooty Hill High School principal Christine Cawsey understands the frustrations of students and their anxieties about end of year assessments.
"The thing that obviously people are very concerned about is Year 12 and particularly those that don't have access to the internet at home," Christine said.
"The significant issues are how the HSC examinations will proceed and under what circumstances and with what accommodations for students who haven’t been able to complete work that they normally would be able to do."
Federal Minister for Education, Dan Tehan has called on universities to “be flexible in the way that they put their offerings forward for this year’s Year 12s.”
“Overall, the discussions that I’ve had with the universities so far on this is they’re all looking to be flexible to ensure that those Year 12s will be able to go to university next year, if that’s what they want to do,” he said, during an interview on Sky News early this month.
Isabella says she’s anxious about what her ATAR result will be. “Every day I’m just like, do I try at this point? My ATAR is going to be screwed anyway…”