Director of Planning and Organisation, Career Practitioner & VET Coordinator

To all our wonderful Year 12 students and parents, CONGRATULATIONS, you have finally commenced the VCE examination season!

What can one say to a student going through the next few weeks?

  • Good luck!
  • Once it’s done, do not think about it
  • Do your best, that is all you can ask of yourself
  • There are lots of ways to get into courses nowadays, so do not worry
  • Eat well, sleep well, exercise…

I think more important than these phrases, we all need to know that, rightly or wrongly, the girls have mentally set goals and an expected level to perform at, and in turn, creating a lot of pressure on themselves.

As parents and teachers, all we want to do is nurture the girls through this time, all the while, knowing that there is life after exams, and in particular, after the ATAR score. However, when reminding them of this, we are not often met with a favourable response.

There have been articles in the press of late and via my Professional Careers networks about Tertiary Institutes looking at alternative and additional factors to assess a student’s suitability for further study, beyond just the ATAR score. At our recent Speech Night we were very pleased to share how community service involvement and leadership skills have contributed to early offers for two students. Via the Latrobe University ASPIRE program, Lucy Church (Year 12) has been offered a place to study a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy, and Lucy Skyrme- Jones (Year 12) was awarded the Bond University Collegiate Scholarship to study a Bachelor of Laws/ International Studies. I am also proud to share that due to the exceptional folio work of some of our other students, they too have received early offers to study a range of design courses at the Whitehouse Institute.

How do we support our girls when they lose focus or become a little ‘wobbly’ due to additional pressures and expectations?

Year 12 students and parents at St Catherine’s are not alone. The staff are an incredible source of support for you all. The amount of one-on-one consultations, extra lessons and practice exams offered by the teachers is outstanding.

When results are released, the careers team will be here to offer assistance during the Change of Preference Week. On call, via mobile, landline, email, skype and in person. We even make house calls if necessary. Every girl in Year 12 receives a phone call on the day of results. We use this opportunity to congratulate them on their achievements and remind them we are so very proud of them and are here to support them in any way necessary. Our School will never stop caring.

Something I also would like to mention is the ‘reaction’ and sharing of the ATAR score.

A common phrase I often use during this time is ‘result etiquette’. In other words, please remember that the girls will be rather emotional when results come out. The anticipation is one that exhibits itself in different ways in different students. Some students are very excited and want to share their score with the world. Others will go ‘off grid’ and not want to respond to others. Then we have the students who have done, what we perceive as very well, but the 93 they achieved does not allow access into the course where they needed 95.

The best way of approaching any and all of these emotions is to allow your daughter to share her news with her family when and how she is ready. Girls, please utilise your closest supporters as soon as possible. I encourage families to make plans for the day. Go out to breakfast, a long lunch. Keep busy and remain smiling.

Hatching a plan for how a student will share results with friends and the etiquette surrounding how to handle this time is very important to have established before the ATAR release date on Friday 15 December. For example, discuss behaviours surrounding, ‘to call or not to call’, ‘when to ask or not to ask’. Inevitably, friends will be experiencing different emotions and these need to be respected.

It does not take long for the question of “What next?” to be asked. How long does the score obtained really need to be re-visited? If things do not go according to plan, then that is okay. Sometimes the fact that a student must change direction can be very beneficial, in that it opens up possibilities that they may not have considered before.

Girls, do not ever forget that your parents and families have taken this rollercoaster ride with you. When it is over, (or before), remember to stop and thank them for all the support, encouragement and opportunities you have been provided. Especially their unconditional love.

My sincere thanks to all Year 12 students and their families for a wonderful year.

Take very good care and congratulations to all.

Mrs Pauline van der poel, Director of Planning and Organisation, Career Practitioner & VET Coordinator