Ebene News – UA – Schools in COVID-19 hotspots triumph in ‘really tough’ year

Haniyah Abou-Said had an even greater taste of life in lockdown than most Melburnians this year

The Flemington public housing tower in which she lives with her family was put under hard and immediate lockdown while on school vacation in July, as the Andrews government sought to contain a dangerous outbreak of COVID- 19

Haniyah Abou-Said says her VCE score is strong enough to get her into her dream class, a bachelor’s degree in fashion and textilesCredit: Scott McNaughton

But as the vacation ended until the third term and Haniyah remained locked in her family apartment all day, the 12th grade student at Mount Alexander College felt confident and relaxed about her impending exams.

Switching to distance learning in Melbourne’s first and smaller wave of coronavirus infections in the second trimester had helped, she said

“I would say on the second lockdown everyone was really confident in learning online, just because we were really organized and well prepared for a lockdown

“So everything has been set up for online learning, especially to enter the sharp end of the year”

Haniyah (left) in May, after grade 11 and 12 students returned to Mount Alexander College after the first lockdown Credit: Jason South

Schools in Melbourne’s COVID-19 hotspots that have been hit by multiple and extended lockdowns this year triumphed on VCE results day, with some improving their 2019 results, according to analysis of results data

Mount Alexander College – which had no COVID-19 cases but has about a dozen grade 12 students who live in high-rise public housing that have been forced to lock up – has obtained its best VCE results in several years, from a median study score of 27 last year to 31

Every student at the school who lives in the Flemington Towers has completed their VCE or VCAL, Principal Dani Angelico said

“We had about 12 years in 12 years of hard lockdown We were still able to help them

“I mean, thank God for Zooming The teachers were just going the extra mile, even after the hard lockdown ended, they were in daily contact”

The average small public school ATAR has dropped from around 51 in 2019 to 72, Ms Angelico said

“It’s a really wonderful way to end the year, because we know it’s been very difficult for the 12 years”

When she opened her results on Wednesday morning, Haniyah graduated with a 7885-year-old ATAR, strong enough to enter her dream course, a bachelor’s degree in fashion and textiles (sustainable innovation) at RMIT University “I am really happy “, she said

Keilor Downs College was forced to close three times in Melbourne’s second wave, losing 15 days of classes, but increased its median study score from 29 to 30, a school’s mark academically solid

Principal Linda Maxwell said she was blown away by the resilience her students had shown in the most uncertain year imaginable

“These kids did even better than an average year, just a little bit,” she said of their results

“They lost so much – we couldn’t have proper celebrations, we lost our ceremony – but they were just determined”

Some members of the school community caught COVID-19 during the city’s second lockdown, sparking fears of spreading the virus, including among the cohort of students at the big government school

Despite these challenges, with the tireless help of their teachers, students remained focused on their schoolwork, said Ms Maxwell

“Our teachers probably communicated with students more rather than less [during distance learning], which is why teachers would tell you they are so exhausted”

Students at Keilor Downs have been assessed individually for their educational disadvantage due to COVID-19, as part of a statewide process involving their teachers and the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority

She said she was confident that the special consideration process had helped her students achieve the results they deserved, without incurring a penalty due to multiple school closures and the long learning curve at distance

VCAA chief executive Stephen Gniel said the results probably wouldn’t have been so consistent without special consideration

“I think we would have seen in some of these schools probably lower results if we had not taken into account the disadvantage,” he said

“In the schools that have been closed we have checked them and we find that it is broadly consistent with previous years

“What we are seeing is that the process has restored the results of the students to where they would have been had they not been affected by the pandemic”

Special attention has been paid to all students this year M Gniel said the VCAA worked on 830,000 data elements

“They know their students better and we know that teachers are in the best position to assess performance and tell us what the level of impact of the coronavirus or, above all, the bushfires at the start of the year are on this cohort”

Sydenham CRC Director Brendan Watson with Grade 12 students Chloe Jenson, Sirin Mirham, Alicia Azzopardi and Lucas Blackman in May Credit: Chris Hopkins

The Sydenham Catholic Regional College, which is also in northwest Melbourne, has had more than 30 students and teachers infected with the coronavirus, one of the city’s worst school-linked epidemics

He also had to deal with a COVID-19 alert in the fourth quarter, in which many members of the school were sent to quarantine as secondary contacts

Principal Brendan Watson said he was relieved that the year was over and that many students had done well, including a varsity dux with an ATAR of 9725

Eight percent of the college’s students earned an ATAR of 90 or higher, said M Watson

“We are extremely happy,” he said. “The school staff worked very hard to ensure that students had opportunities through online learning, and all credits must go to the students to maintain contact with their teachers; it was a year like no other”

The college had staff on site Wednesday to help students who need to change their academic preferences and who have not achieved the expected results

M Watson said it was important for students to remember that their ATAR did not define them

“Life can ruin a lot of things, but don’t worry about the score, there are more lanes and every youngster can find their way with support,” he said

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Adam Carey is Education Editor He joined The Age in 2007 and previously covered state politics, transportation, general news, the arts, and food

New Year’s Eve, Sydney

Ebene News – UA – Schools in COVID-19 hotspots triumph in ‘really tough’ year

Source: https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/schools-in-covid-19-hotspots-triumph-in-really-tough-year-20201230-p56qtf.html