Exceptionalism that proves the rule – HSC results show the work of education never stopped
The more than 66,000 students who completed their HSC this year have endured extraordinary pressures exceeding those typically faced in the already gruelling final year examinations; bushfires, floods, drought and the pandemic all wrought havoc on schools and students in 2020.
The Independent Education Union of Australia NSW/ACT Branch offers our warmest and most sincere congratulations to every student that faced and overcame these hurdles and acknowledge the exceptional results of the students from across the state who obtained a First in Course award for their efforts.
It goes without saying, but deserves to be reiterated, that not one of these students could have faced down these challenges without the stewardship, dedication and commitment of their remarkable teachers who have ushered them through their education journeys from the moment they entered the education system in pre-school or primary school, right through into high school culminating in this final year of achievement.
Much praise is deservedly heaped upon those students who have attained the pinnacle achievement for their courses, and their respective teachers rightly enjoy a share of that glory. Equally deserving, but sadly often under recognised, are the teachers of every other student for the cohort of 2020. These professionals put in no less passion, no fewer hours, and no less dedication to helping their students achieve.
2020 has undoubtedly bent to its will the shape of education this year. School closures and social distancing requirements required teachers and school support staff to upend everything they previously knew about the delivery of schooling and pivot to innovative online and remote learning arrangements almost overnight. COVID-19 outbreaks and clusters in schools created an additional pervasive layer of anxiety for the school staff charged with the safety of their students – all too well aware the dangers that an uncontained outbreak would pose to their communities, as well as to educational outcomes.
Despite this, and contrary to breathless media reports that education had halted and students might be required to repeat a year of schooling to catch up, the day to day work of education and school operation prevailed. The successful completion of this year’s HSC by students across the state is testament to that fact.
Deserving of particular recognition are the teachers and support staff that ensured the ongoing functioning of schools in regional and remote areas. Their students were most at risk of being left behind in the year’s disruptions. The resilience of the professionals working in these schools, hard earnt through their experiences facing down fire, drought and flood, shone through.
Stories like these are echoed throughout the state by the tens of thousands of workers in essential front line services; nurses, doctors, firefighters, grocery store workers, factory and distribution workers, port and terminal workers, Centrelink staff, teachers, education support staff and early childhood workers, to name but a few. When the rest of the country’s industries and workplaces were placed into a necessarily induced coma, these essential workers stepped up.
It’s a sad state of affairs that even while we celebrate the achievements of our students and their teachers, the NSW government is persevering with their economically destructive plan to freeze the wages of the state’s public sector workers – those same workers who kept this state and the country working. As thanks for their remarkable achievement this year, state school teachers’ pay risks being frozen – a decision that will have direct consequences in parallel for teachers working in non-government schools and for whom the IEU represents.