The Class of Covid-19

What will the global pandemic mean for students preparing to sit the HSC exams

Students sitting an exam
HSC students

This feature article will explore the graduating class of Corona 2020. Seniors are simultaneously battling an academically stressful period with a universally stressful experience of living in a pandemic. They have been robbed from the many milestones and celebrations experienced by those before them and face a very scary unknown in the face of changing state regulations and contradicting messages.


Student sitting an exam
Source: Daily Liberal

More than 180,000 students are set to sit their final exams in 2020, including 68,000 in NSW.  Despite the disruptions to classrooms the NSW education department has declared HSC exams will go ahead. State restrictions in NSW vary as Private schools are able to make their own decisions on students returning to school with many planning full time face-to-face learning from Mid-May. Public schools on the other hand must follow the government’s staged return model meaning that HSC students will have 12 days of face to face teaching in term two, whereas private schools will have 40. The international Baccalaureate offered as an alternative high school diploma in NSW has decided to cancel its May exams and are reviewing if the Australian November exam session will take place.

This story is newsworthy as it explores the fragility and disruption the global pandemic has had on our state education system and its long-lasting ripple effect onto teachers, parents and whole communities. This story also brings attention to the already existing disadvantages amongst students such as unstable family situations or limited internet accessibility and explores how the current crisis has exacerbated such issues.

Audience and publication

The chosen publication for this story is Sydney Morning Herald. According to their media toolkit, Sydney Morning Herald boasts a viewership of 7.6 million people, predominately in the target Sydney region. Furthermore, its two main target audience groups are aged 30-44 and 45-64 which are likely to have year 12 students and therefore would be interested in this article.


  • Hyperlinks with new tabs to reference individuals/information mentioned in the story
  • Photos of students at home study set up
  • HSC forum comments


To write this story I will conduct multiple interviews and utilise multiple sources. Firstly I intend to interview a year 12 student who attends school in NSW and is currently facing the HSC. This interview will highlight generally how students are adapting and their desired outcome. I will also interview a teacher in the public-school system for insight into if they agree with the current NSW policies in regards to contact hours for public and private education.  Lastly, I will interview academic  professionals such as Sydney University Associate Professor Jennifer Rowley who is a Professor in Music education but specialises in areas of gifted education and adolescent development. My interest in Professor Rowley stems from the fact that she has already written at length of the implications that Covid-19 will have on the graduating class of 2020. Therefore, Rowley already has a clear interest in this topic and strong opinions to offer this article. Failing this, alternative mental health experts at Sydney University such as Associate Professor Atkinson who specialises in Youth mental health.


  1. Interesting topic that is of high significance to the general NSW population, given how most of us in NSW know someone who is currently in Year 12. Since you pointed out some differences between how private and public schools are responding to this, maybe it might be good to interview students/teachers from both public and private schools, to see if they are impacted differently? Alternatively, if you choose to focus on the public school system, perhaps you could compare the situation in a selective school with that of a non-selective public school in a low social-economic status (SES) suburb? Tutoring and coaching is a huge industry in NSW. Has reduced face-to-face learning increased the demand for tutoring services (assuming you have online tutoring, or 1-on-1 home tuition)? Or has the tutoring industry suffered due to parents’ reduced disposable income? Is the Covid-19 pandemic likely to exacerbate the SES divide?

  2. Hi Eve,
    I think this is a great topic to write about as many 12 year students are facing this problem right now. Your story has a very interesting and informative angle that brings out important issues, such as fragility and disruption of state education system or limited internet accessibility. I agree with your choice of audience and publication. I believe parents would be extremely interested in this topic as they are probably worried and stressed out in this situation as much as their children. Your sources of information are well-chosen; interview with 12 student will give the readers insight on how students are coping with the problems, while interview with academic professional who specialised in areas of adolescence will provide possible comment, explanation and solutions for this difficult situation. Your article seems to have all features of good online journalism: text divided into paragraphs, hyperlinks, multimedia. I would just advise to include a copyright licence in the description of your images. Other than that, I like your work!

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