Australia/August 16, 2020/By: Ashleigh Raper/Source: https://www.abc.net.au/
Sydney year 12 student Jude Dolan is finishing his trial HSC exams and has just weeks left of time in the classroom.
“It’s certainly come too soon because we haven’t been able to enjoy the year 12 aspect of year 12,” the Forest High student from Sydney’s Northern Beaches said.
“We’re at the final stages and we’ve got to make it the best we can.”
The shut down of schools because of COVID-19 earlier this year has robbed year 12 students of a complete year in the classroom.
It’s also robbed them of a voice on important matters affecting their lives, like COVID-19.
In response, NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell is setting up a formal student council that she’ll meet several times a year to discuss not just COVID-19, but education policy.
The Education Department will start calling for representatives next term from all areas of the state.
Ms Mitchell is keen to hear how students have adapted to challenges like remote learning.
“I was in isolation for 48 to 49 days but they must have been the most productive 48 to 49 days of my life really,” Jude Dolan said.
But he concedes it wasn’t like that for everyone.
“I think for a lot of people it was the home learning that was quite a struggle to get into,” he said.
Nickie Tran, a Year 10 student at Sarah Redfern High at Minto in south-western Sydney, found it a challenge.
“For a lot of students, like me, it’s been quite lonely,” Nickie said.
“It was really hard to adjust and it was really hard to maximise productivity.”
But she also says she learnt from the experience.
“I now know what I am capable and not capable of.”
Both students say side projects have helped them normalise this year.
Jude Dolan runs a football tournament of students, called the “Wednesday League”.
He enlists the help of professional commentators and it’s broadcast on YouTube.
Nickie Tran said it was “motivating” that events like public speaking and debating competitions still went ahead online.
It’s these insights Ms Mitchell says she needs to hear.
“It’s become really clear to me, particularly this year during the pandemic, while I get to meet with a range of stakeholders in education, our teachers, our principals and also parents, what’s been missing is that student voice,” the Minister said.
“If the kids are given the voice that they are promised, then it could be huge,” Jude said.
“Take in every idea and pluck out and see which ones work, that’s my entire process for stuff like the Wednesday League.”
Jude won’t be eligible for the council because he’ll have left school, but Nickie Tran is keen to put up her hand.
“Our voice is valid, it matters and it deserves to be heard,” she said.
“I will absolutely take the advice coming from this council very seriously,” the Education Minister said.
“I wouldn’t be setting it up if I didn’t think it was important.”
Docente - Investigadora Educativa.
Doctora en Cs. de la Educación, Magíster en Desarrollo Curricular y Licenciada en Relaciones Industriales.