Student recommendations to relieve pressure

Victorian Student Representative Council's Statement and recommendations for Victorian education for the remainder of 2021.

September 2021

The last 18 months has been the most disruptive period for Victorian students in recent history.

The cumulative effect on children and young people in 2021 is extreme and we are feeling helpless and hopeless. At this moment schools are closed, learning seems irrelevant, and our ability to connect with our support networks (our friends, extended family and schools) has been reduced to online interactions. We hear messages from the government that tell us we're getting the best opportunities to learn and that there is support for us, and that final year students will still receive the assessments we deserve.

But what's missing from this message is evidence of how far the Victorian Andrews' government is prepared to go to provide the (extraordinary) support that children and young people need. The government must act immediately, so students have a sense of certainty and clarity about the remainder of the 2021 school year.

We understand that the final year exams are important to attempt to create equity amongst students in an unequitable system but now is the time to think creatively and boldly about how to assess final years to remove the intense pressure on students.

We understand that returning to school will inevitably mean managing outbreaks of COVID-19 but schools are such an important place of belonging and security for so many students that getting students back to school face to face as soon as the 70% vaccination target is met is crucial.

We understand that the approaches that are decided upon will not work for every student but the current school system and what's happening now is not working either.

What we don't understand is why we are not being meaningfully included in decisions. Why our voices are heard but not really taken into account. We are the ones most impacted by the current situation so we should be the ones involved in creating solutions!

We need something significant to change so that students across Victoria can believe it when our government says our mental health and our education is so important. VicSRC has been proud to provide regular advice to Minister Merlino about his education and mental health portfolios over the last 18 months and we look forward to continuing to work with the Andrews government to find a solution that centres and is informed by students.

VicSRC is asking the Victorian government to consider the following actions to relieve some of the intense pressure faced by students across the state.

  1. Two mental health days for schools to ensure every student and educator has an opportunity to focus on self care and prioritise their well being.

  2. Return to school term 4: Year 12 students and at risk/vulnerable/essential worker students return to school immediately. Other year levels attend as a cohort for one or two days per week to focus on engagement, wellbeing and connecting back to schools as a place of learning and belonging.

  3. Change the year 12 exams to give students a choice based on areas of study (such as in further maths). Students choose a smaller number of areas of study to be assessed on from the whole subject to reduce the revision and allow them to focus their learning.

Today's students are tomorrow's workforce. We need to ensure we thrive, not just survive, in school so that we are in a position to support society and the economy over the next decade and beyond. We need to be healthy and supported so we can support the regrowth of Victoria.

Make your voice heard!

About VicSRC

Victorian Student Representative Council (VicSRC) is the peak body representing school-aged students in Victoria. We exist to empower all student voices to be valued in every aspect of education.