HSC marks its nifty fifty

Test reaches land­mark as stu­dents as young as 11 get set for exam

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - - The Everest - BRUCE McDOUGALL

CHIL­DREN as young as 11 will be among more than 70,000 can­di­dates who will sit HSC ex­ams from Mon­day as the glob­ally recog­nised cre­den­tial turns 50.

HSC bosses say the youngest can­di­date this year, an 11year-old be­lieved to be from one of Syd­ney’s elite pri­vate schools, will sit a sin­gle maths sub­ject.

Another can­di­date, 12, is en­rolled in maths ex­ten­sion 1 and a 13-year-old will sit a pa­per in in­for­ma­tion pro­cesses and tech­nol­ogy, the NSW Ed­u­ca­tion Stan­dards Au­thor­ity (NESA) has con­firmed. Three 14-year-old can­di­dates will sit maths pa­pers this year.

NESA said the much younger HSC can­di­dates were most likely to study maths or in­for­ma­tional tech­nol­ogy cour­ses.

Ed­u­ca­tors say stu­dents at such young ages do not have the emo­tional de­vel­op­ment re­quired to study hu­man­i­ties at Year 12 level.

As the HSC clocks up its half-cen­tury it has emerged that the class of 1967 in­cluded many stu­dents who went on to be­come no­table Aus­tralians, in­clud­ing Olympics boss John Coates, Opera Aus­tralia artis­tic di­rec­tor Lyn­don Ter­racini, Aus­tralia’s first fed­eral race dis­crim­i­na­tion com­mis­sioner Irene Moss and golf­ing great Jack New­ton.

To­day the land­mark NSW ed­u­ca­tion cre­den­tial is fac­ing its big­gest over­haul in 17 years, in­clud­ing a new science ex­ten­sion course and fewer and fairer as­sess­ment tasks.

But the fiercest fight has been over the gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to im­pose a re­quire­ment for stu­dents to reach bench­marks in read­ing, writ­ing and nu­mer­acy so the HSC can­not be just a “rib­bon for turn­ing up”.

From 2020, to be guar­an­teed of re­ceiv­ing the HSC can­di­dates will have to achieve at least Band 8, the third-high­est NAPLAN level for Year 9, in the core sub­jects.

The tough new rules fol­low plum­met­ing per­for­mances by Aus­tralian teenagers in crit­i­cal sub­jects such as read­ing, math- emat­ics and science.

The HSC is also at the cen­tre of a new de­bate over its rel­e­vance to school leavers fac­ing a rapidly chang­ing em­ploy­ment land­scape.

West­ern Syd­ney Catholic ed­u­ca­tion boss Greg Whitby has crit­i­cised the HSC as out­dated but Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Rob Stokes said it re­mained the “gold stan­dard of sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion”. Ja­cob Hein­rich (pic­tured below with fel­low HSC stu­dent El­lise Hicks) said he was look­ing for­ward to get­ting the ex­ams over and done with. “I have been study­ing mostly ev­ery day,” he said. “I’m a lit­tle anx­ious but I guess ev­ery­body is feel­ing like that as well.”

Model Aki­ima shows off a Paolo Se­bas­tian gown. Pic­ture: Bianca De Marchi

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