Learning goes remote for local students in response to COVID-19

By Shepparton News

Greater Shepparton students will be educated from home when Term 2 starts next week in efforts to stem the spread of coronavirus, the Victorian Government announced this morning.

Minister for Education James Merlino said all Victorian government primary, secondary and special schools will shift to remote learning as of next week.

Free internet access and laptops will be on offer for vulnerable local students.

“Every child that needs a laptop or a tablet will receive one,” he said.

“Schools will work individually with families to work out the needs of their children.”

Greater Shepparton Secondary College has asked families to register their interest for laptops via Compass.

Mr Merlino also assured year 12 students would finish the year and will receive an ATAR.

“There will be no need for a Year 13,” he said.

“This year will look different, but VCE and VCAL will conclude.”

However, there will be a number of changes to the academic timetable for both VCE and VCAL students.

The GAT test will be shifted from June to October or November, while end of year exams will be postponed until at least December.

School-based assessment tasks will also be cut where possible to ease pressure on local students as they adjust to remote and flexible learning arrangements.

Universities will be asked to delay the start of the 2021 university year to account for the impact of COVID-19 on senior secondary students.

VCE study scores will be derived from a mixture of school-based assessment and external exams.

VCAL students will have more time to complete their courses, consistent with the revised dates for the VCE.

The Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA) is also examining a compressed end-of-year exam schedule.

This will include the “slight shortening” of each exam in recognition of disruption caused by the pandemic.

A small number of students undertaking VET may have the award of their VCE or VCAL delayed until the beginning of 2021 so they can complete mandatory practical or workplace learning requirements - ensuring they are not disadvantaged by the lack of hands-on practice amid the coronavirus crisis.

Mr Merlino said the government had a “plan B” for Year 12s if disruptions were to extend to the end of the year.

He said some alternate options included deriving the ATAR from the GAT test, school based assessment, or Year 11 results.

The Victorian Government said its message to students and parents of government schools was clear - all children who can learn at home must learn at home.

On-site learning will only be made available for children whose parents can’t work from home and vulnerable students without access to a suitable learning environment at home.

Small groups of VCE and VCAL students can also attend on-site for short stints if their learning requirements cannot be conducted at home.

Physical distancing provisions will be made for the safety of these teachers and students.

To ensure more students can learn from home, the government has pledged it will loan more than 6000 laptops and tablets to students who don’t have access to digital technologies.

Schools will also distribute other classroom devices such as required.

The State Government will also deliver free dongles or SIM cards to thousands of government school students who need them the most.

This includes an agreement with Telstra to provide 4000 SIM cards for government primary and secondary school students.