But the decision to delay exams in Victoria to compensate for disruptions caused by COVID-19 led the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority to push back the release of results until the day before New Year’s Eve.
Several school principals who spoke to The Age said they had begun planning for a return to work in the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve to be on hand to help students.
Pitsa Binnion, principal of McKinnon Secondary College, said the two-week delay to end-of-year exams had made it impossible to give students their results before the holidays.
The option of holding back their release until January had been rejected because it would have left students in suspense for longer and potentially given them no time to alter their university preferences.
“There is no perfect date; the perfect date would have been the original date in mid-December,” Ms Binnion said. “It’s hard, this is not what we want but it’s the year of a pandemic.”
McKinnon Secondary College in Melbourne’s south-east has about 370 year 12 students completing VCE this year, and most of them hope to go on to university.
Ms Binnion said career counsellors would need to know ahead of December 30 which courses each of them had applied for, so no student was left without an option for 2021.
Gail Major, executive principal at Scoresby Secondary College in Melbourne’s east, said she was saddened by the fact that many of this year’s graduating students would miss out on the communal support they traditionally received on results day.
She and support staff would be on site for students who wanted to come in to discuss their results.
“We have to consider students and their wellbeing,” Ms Major said. “Students need support and my experience has been they celebrate each other’s successes but they also support each other and those who may not have achieved what they hoped for.”
Sue Bell, president of the Victorian Association of Secondary School Principals, said schools would have staff on hand to provide counselling for any students distressed by their results.
“The first guiding principle is what’s best for the students, because they’re the ones who are really suffering this year, they’ve had incredible losses in not being able to have a valedictory dinner or a formal or all the fun days they’ve normally had, they’re just down to the hard work,” Ms Bell said.
The Department of Education and Training said it was working with principals’ associations and with the Catholic and Independent sectors to ensure that support was available to students on December 30.
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Adam Carey is Education Editor. He joined The Age in 2007 and has previously covered state politics, transport, general news, the arts and food.