Class of 2020 to get special ATAR treatment

By Daneka Hill

ECHUCA'S school principals have welcomed special treatment for students who sit VCE exams, but worry the devil could be in the detail.

On Friday, August 7, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced every student would be individually assessed, and any adverse impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic would be reflected in the weighting of their final ATAR rankings.

Echuca College principal Simon Wood said the school would be following directions to individually assess all 65 of their year 12 students.

“It will be a big workload on our staff, but I don’t think you’d find a teacher in the state upset about it,” Mr Wood said.

“Staff were aware of and knew there would be something happening like this.”

Mr Wood said his students had been spoken to “at length” throughout the tumultuous year about their options.

“We’ve been speaking to them about how their GAT results would have more weight this year, what universities were doing to adjust, and how it was important to complete as many assessments as possible,” he said.

“The large majority of our students are looking to transition to university. We are reminding them to keep in mind their original goals and helping them navigate towards that.”

St Joseph’s College Echuca principal Michael Delaney said he had mixed feelings about the decision and had little detail about the measures.

“At first glance it does look like more work for teachers, but it’s too early to tell yet. I am worried if it is more work, it makes an already difficult year even more difficult,” Mr Delaney said.

“It makes things more certain for students but teachers’ workloads are uncertain. It’s a tough year for all. No doubt.”

The new measure comes after a week of campaigning by Melbourne high school student Nathan Gunn for all year 12 VCE exams to be cancelled amid the mental toll and disruption to learning COVID-19 restrictions have caused.

Mr Andrews said every Victorian student had been impacted by the pandemic in one way or another, and the challenge would be making sure that did not decide their future.

“My message to VCE students is clear: you concentrate on doing your best, and we’ll take care of everything else,” he said.

The government also allocated $28.5 million to help schools, particularly with mental health training and support.