Changes to School due to the Pandemic

June 25, 2020joelleva

Hello everyone, here is my article for June. By the time you are reading this article, most of you will have returned to face to face learning, which I am sure you will be glad to be doing. This article will discuss the changes to school and English Language that the pandemic caused by Covid-19 has caused.

Changes to school generally

School will be different in an academic sense, and in how it will operate day to day. I will not discuss how each school will operate differently day to day, as that is a decision for each school and will vary based on a number of factors.

A couple of days ago (I am writing this on May 26), the Premier (Daniel Andrews) and the state education minister (James Merlino) made a number of announcements in relation to education, and VCE in particular.

For most subjects, if not all, unit 4 has been altered slightly, with some content being removed (I will discuss the ramifications of this for English Language soon, but check for your individual subjects). Other than ensuring that this content will not be examinable, the exams and exam conditions will not be changed. Consequently, the English Language exam will still be 2 hours of writing with 15 minutes of reading time, with a 15-mark short answer section, an analytical commentary worth 30 marks, and an essay worth the same.

Moreover, this year’s oral and performance exams (for those doing subjects that entail them) will occur between October 12 and November 8. For written exams, the exam period starts 12 days later than it would have otherwise, commencing on November 9, and running until December 2. The exam timetable will be released by the end of term 2. Historically, the English Language exam has been fairly late in the exam period, although it was much earlier last year. Finally, the GAT is on September 9.

Changes to English Language specifically

Some of the aforementioned changes obviously impact English Language.

The first of the significant changes relates to the way that your SACs are weighted. Usually, unit 3 and 4 SACs are each worth 25% of your final grade, with the exam making up the remaining 50%. This year, the exam is still worth half of your final grade, although your Unit 3 SACs are now worth 30% of your final mark, whereas your unit 4 SACs are now only worth 20%. This does not mean that you put less work into unit 4. Further, schools are now required to assess unit 4 content in the written mode, with either a short answer section, an analytical commentary, or an essay being the only ways in which unit 4 can be assessed. Coincidentally, they are the same skills that are on the exam. The reduced weighting probably just reflects the reduced content load in unit 4, which I will now discuss.

Area of study 2 in unit 4 has not changed. It still has 50 marks attached to it (for the purposes of determining your grade for unit 4) and none of the key knowledge or skills have been removed. Conversely, area of study 1 has changed, and is now only worth 30 marks for determining your unit 4 grade, as opposed to the usual 50 (so unit 4 is marked out of 80 instead of 100). Sadly, some of the best parts of Unit 4, Area of Study 1 have been removed from the course this year. You will not be looking at the features of Australian accents, the characteristic features of Australian English as compared to other national varieties, and you will not be looking at the role of Australian English in constructing national identity.

The new study design for 2020 can be found here:

Anyway, I hope that this article has clarified some of the changes that these unprecedented times have caused, and that you are staying safe and well.

If you loved this article, you will LOVE all of our other articles, such as: Coherence and Dealing with the Coronavirus, Topic and Floor Management in Conversations and Strategies for Success in English Language

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