HSC marks its nifty fifty
Test reaches landmark as students as young as 11 get set for exam
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Western Sydney Catholic education boss Greg Whitby has criticised the HSC as outdated but Education Minister Rob Stokes said it remained the “gold standard of secondary education”.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