Dear Year 12 students and parents,

Firstly let me express my congratulations to Year 12 on the way that you are managing yourselves and your learning. Your teachers are letting me know how calm, sensible and measured you are, and how you are getting on with the job at hand: learning and staying safe. Let me also express my appreciation to your teachers for their work, professionalism and expertise in supporting you. Parents, we remain, as ever, grateful for your partnership and support.  I am writing to pass on a media release that we received from NESA this morning.

Chair of the NESA Board, Professor Peter Shergold announced a number of key decisions about the 2020 HSC made by the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) COVID-19 Response Committee to protect the health and safety of students, teachers and parents during this challenging time. Effective immediately, the Committee has agreed to:

  • give Principals and system authorities the power to determine the number, type and weighting of tasks for Year 11 school based assessment, in line with the decision communicated last week for HSC students
  • lift the requirement for VET students to undertake NESA work placements
  • cancel mandatory group performance exam in Drama and the mandatory ensemble performance exam in Music Extension.
  • modify other performance exams that breach social distancing requirements.

The Committee will meet next week to provide advice on major projects for Visual Arts, Design and Technology, Industrial Technology, Textiles and Design, English Ext 2 and Society and Culture. Professor Shergold said today’s decisions and every future decision made by the Committee will prioritise the adoption of arrangements for the 2020 HSC that are practical and do not disadvantage any student. “The Committee is continuing to meet weekly to address issues and provide up to date advice. I can say with certainty that students will have the opportunity to receive their HSC credential this year, so students should continue to learn, complete their assessments and taking care of themselves”. A Technical Advisory Committee of assessment experts and key stakeholders is currently working to establish a fair and equitable way to calculate a mark for each of the cancelled components of the HSC. NESA will communicate this process as soon as it is finalised.

As I noted in my correspondence last week, you are experiencing a particularly unusual final year of school. If there is anything more that we can be doing, do not hesitate to be in touch. School holidays will be upon us in a week’s time, and the challenge for all of us will be to use them to recharge our batteries when so many of the things that help us to do just that, we can’t do. I suspect you haven’t given much thought to what your holiday break will look like, but it might be wise to start thinking about the sort of routine or patterns that will help to keep you healthy and well.

Again, as soon as we receive more information from NESA, we will pass it on. I understand that there will be a real sense of disappointment for those of you losing key components of your favourite courses. I understand that those of you receiving advice about other courses next week may feel uneasy about what that advice will mean.

Psalm 46:1-5
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with us;

Kind regards,

Tim Watson