Many of you may be aware that approximately two weeks ago, State Education Minister Kate Jones announced she had granted the QCAA (Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority) a one year extension for their delivery of the Palaszczuk Governments’ major reforms to senior assessment and tertiary entrance. This means that our current Year 8s who will graduate in 2020 will be the first cohort to commence Year 11 under the new system. Under this new system the QCAA will be responsible for the curriculum and assessment structures of our Year 11 and 12 subjects and QTAC (Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre) will be responsible for the ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank) score eligible students will receive at the end of Year 12. There are many decisions yet to be finalised but Kate Jones did formally announce that this ATAR score will be calculated from a student’s best five subject results which may include one Vocational Education and Training (VET) qualification or Subject Area Syllabus (SAS).

For many of us in education, it was not surprising to hear that our new system will commence one year later than initially stated. It is reassuring to know that time will be provided for all governing bodies to ensure we have the best possible system for schools and students. Changes to our assessment structures will require a paradigm shift for many students and teachers.

Prior to this announcement, QUT hosted an External Exam Forum event which Mr Frank Torrisi, Mr Darren Kearney and I attended. This evening was an opportunity to hear from Dr Judy Smeed regarding what the literature and research says about external exams and how to best prepare students for them. We also heard from speakers regarding their own experience of pedagogical practices and school structures in an external exam environment. I also had the pleasure of visiting a fellow EREA school, St Kevin’s College Toorak just recently. Obviously being a school in Melbourne, they work within the VCE system. Meeting with the College Leadership Team, was an opportunity for me to gain some understanding and ideas regarding such things as:

  • Impact on school calendar (Graduation, Awards Ceremonies, Leadership practices) when Year 12 students are essentially in external exams for all of Term 4
  • Mock exams and extensive revision sessions on weekends and holidays
  • Staffing allocations for senior classes
  • Class by class results (league tables)
  • When to start preparing students for long, large exams
  • When to commence Unit 3 & 4 of senior syllabuses – end of Year 11 or start of Year 12
  • Pastoral support for students to manage exam anxiety

We are fortunate here at St Patrick’s College that many of our staff have taught in other systems; be it the UK (GCSEs and A level exams), NSW (HSC exams) or Victoria (VCE exams) all of which are systems with external exam procedures. We will most certainly be tapping into their expertise and experience as we prepare for 2019-2020.

Ms Elizabeth Gaber - Dean of Administration and Business Intelligence