SUBJECTS: Year 12 exams, COVID-19 and Victoria
Luke Grant: I received a media release yesterday from the Prime Minister and the Federal Minister for Education Dan Tehan. Amongst other things, they said starting this week Year 12 students across Australia will begin their final examinations, and he says in a rather pointed and I think personal point that is important and shouldn’t be lost here, like every Year 12 student before you, this marks the end of your formal school education. After this, they say, you may decide to study for a university degree, learn a trade, study a vocational qualification, say, up-skill with a microcredential – I’m not sure what that is, I’ll get the Minister to tell me in a minute – start a business, or get a job. But, the point is that the examinations won’t define you. You’ve got a long life ahead and there’s lots of people that have excelled at this time of year, and gone on and done well. And, there are lots of people who haven’t excelled at this time of year, and gone on and done well. And, I suspect that’s the message behind all of this. The Federal Minister for Education, as I said, Dan Tehan, is on the line. Minister, thank you for your time.
Dan Tehan: Pleasure.
Grant: And, it is exactly that, Dan, isn’t it? Alright, we do our best here for the period of weeks that the exams take place, but beyond that, life has a lot, a lot to offer. And, it does often unfold in mysterious ways.
Tehan: Absolutely, it does. They’ll be numerous pathways that our Year 12 students will take to, ultimately, end up in the jobs that they do. And, while it’s really important that they try their best through this examination period, they also have to understand that the friends that they’ve made, and also the resilience they’ve learnt throughout this year, will stand them in really good stead for the, for the life ahead.
Grant: Very difficult year, the, particularly the states that have been in perpetual lockdown. And, I don’t know how they, the students, have been able to manage that. What sort of assistance has been offered by Government? We have heard, Dan, haven’t we, that mental health has been a real challenge for many.
Tehan: That’s right. There’s been extra assistance which has been offered at both the federal level and state and territory level to support students throughout this year, and that will continue to be provided for the many, especially those students in Victoria, and, in particular, Melbourne. It’s been a very trying time. But, that resilience and that dealing with that hardship, I think, ultimately, in the end, will set them up well for life. And, if they can step back, once they’re through this year, my hope is that they’ll say, well, if I can deal with what life has thrown at me this year, that’s going to mean that I can deal with most things that life will throw at me for the years to come, and it might actually be one of those things which, hopefully, will help and assist over coming years.
Grant: Yeah. And, that is, and I fully accept that that’s the glass half full perspective. There will be those, weren’t there – it just is that we’re not all the same – that’ll be at the point of almost flying coming into all of this, and this has really knocked them around, their ability just to focus. Again, their mental health. And, I do, I do worry there might be those who have come through this perhaps not feeling so well, and mightn’t perform as they would otherwise have performed.
Tehan: That’s right, there will be, and, look, you have to remember, for those students, and for any of them listening tonight, there are special consideration that’s given that if you are struggling. And, remember to get help or assistance if you feel you need it, and Beyond Blue and headspace and others can provide you with help and support in that regard. And, just remember that we are able to provide special consideration in cases where it has become too much and you are struggling. So, we can take all that into account, as well.
Grant: Fantastic. And, it is quite an achievement, let’s be honest, given the dangers of the pandemic, to actually come through the year, and still have, you know, things like the HSC.
Tehan: Absolutely. Looking, if you look at what’s happened around the rest of the world, it’s an absolute credit to our education system for what we’ve been able to achieve. You take the Northern Territory, for instance, they’ve only missed one week of face-to-face teaching there, in South Australia I think it’s two weeks, Western Australia not too different. So, you know, there has been remarkable achievement right across every state and territory, and even in Victoria, the way teachers have gone about providing that online teaching, rather than that face-to-face teaching. They’ve stepped up, and it’s been incredibly difficult for them, but they’ve managed to be able to do that, as well. So, right across the board, principals, teachers, students and parents have really done a remarkable job dealing with what this pandemic has thrown at us.
Grant: Alright. Let’s get to how you dealt with the final exam. How did you go?
Tehan: Well, what I did, I grew up on a farm and I went to boarding school, and, so, in preparation for my final exams, I went back to the family farm and studied as hard as I possibly could. I was a good, average student. I was not brilliant. I did reasonably well, but I was, I sort of matured a bit later in life. At university was where I started to perform a lot better than what I did at school. But, look, I also had very different pathways in my life. I worked in agriculture, I sold ice cream, I became a diplomat, and if you had of told me 35 years ago when I headed back to the farm to study for my Year 12 exams that I would be Australia’s Education Minister, I would have said, you’ve got to be joking. I seriously would have said, you’ve got to be joking. So, you do not know how life is going to turn out for you.
Grant: No, you are absolutely right. What did you make of the loosening of restrictions? Obviously, you’re an MP from Victoria. What did you make of what the Premier announced yesterday? Will that ease things there for many people who have felt, you know, particularly restricted and under pressure? I know you’re in regional Victoria, but what did you make of it all?
Tehan: Look, I think business is the one that’s really been left out, and I think more could have been done for business. We, we’ve really got to make sure that we’re looking after businesses and their ability to employ people, and really focusing on jobs. So, I think, that’s a bit where I still think there’s some work to be done. And, I still think there’s not a lot of logic
to what they’re doing around schooling. I would have had, I think, all students back at school beginning tomorrow. And, I think, the fact that we’ve still got 8, 9’s and 10’s not going to school, and they’ll have to wait another week, I think is disappointing, as well. I would have liked to have seen all students back for the start of term four in Victoria, and the fact that there are still some years that aren’t back, I just think lacks logic.
Grant: Yeah, okay. Federal Education Minister and the Member for Wannon Dan Tehan, thank you very much for your time. Good to talk.