BDSC Cancel Or Postpone The Upcoming School Exams

BDSC Cancel Or Postpone The Upcoming School Exams

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- - started this petition to Karen Brinsden (Principal) and

I am petitioning for Botany Downs Secondary College to cancel or postpone the upcoming school exams scheduled for Monday the 7th of September. Due to the COVID-19 crisis and two lockdowns, the senior students of BDSC have been severely disadvantaged in comparison with previous years and lately compared with the rest of the country who have continued in-person learning.

The most important factor to consider is the current mental and physical wellbeing of students (especially year 13's). A significant proportion of senior students are struggling to be in the right state of mind to be able to study or prepare for their exams. The impact of this pandemic has meant our learning has suffered and the normal stress of exams has hugely increased. As a group, we have been expected to shoulder the burden of diminished face to face teaching time as well as the uncertainty of when or if we will be able to resume classes prior to exams. There is still a significant chance of further community outbreak in New Zealand and decisions on what students can do are often made with very short notice by the government.  

Isolation elevates stress and anxiety levels, and the importance of our final year school exams increases this stress significantly. In a year that is so very important to our future, it is patently unfair to students who no longer have the sense of structure provided by the school environment. Not all students have optimal spaces to remotely learn without distraction, whether it is due to having to share rooms with other siblings also trying to do school work or others locked down in the house. Remote learning is not the same as classroom study and many things have diminished its effectiveness. From device and access capabilities through to insufficient wifi/internet capacity. 

The health and mental well being of all students has suffered, but the effects on senior students are the greatest as we are managing the magnified intensity of pre-existing stressors of normal life, preparing for post-secondary school as well as existing in home environments where parents are under enormous pressure as well. The distinct possibility of job loss in households as a result of yet another lockdown makes this school year unlike any before it. This has had a tremendous impact on our overall mental wellbeing and ability to keep finding the motivation to learn, study and prepare for the upcoming exams.  

In the event of another extended lockdown later in the year, school exams may well be the final grades decided if NCEA exams are cancelled. When the loss of classroom time is taken into account prior to the current schedule for exams - how can it possibly be reasonable to expect year 13 students to achieve their best?  If the majority have not yet learnt all of the content necessary to complete these exams, why would they be scheduled when this is the case? Forcing exams on students at a point where the curriculum has not even been covered is patently unfair. How will the exam results be an accurate reflection of a student's knowledge, commitment, resilience and learning given the current circumstances?  

Students of BDSC are pushing themselves to meet the scholastic requirements for their chosen career pathway. We have lost almost a term's worth of in-school learning. We have been left to learn much of the content on our own, with little help from online learning. Ironically a number of important internals that are currently being worked on are due during the mock exam period. How are students meant to complete multiple internals during this time as well as study for school exams that may, in the end, determine final NCEA grades - it is an unreasonable burden to put on students. 

To date, the opinions of senior students have not been taken into consideration regarding the scheduling of school exams. This is disappointing and frustrating particularly as BDSC is a school that preaches the care of student wellbeing. It is hardly fair to expect us to do exams a week after coming out of lockdown while managing external topics that are being rushed in order to compensate for the timing of school exams. 

Anxiety and stress amongst students are very high and the school should consider the impact of their approach to the year on the mental health of those they claim they are in care of. To date, any considerations appear to have been made in the school's interest and not the students. We are not asking for special treatment just for a level playing field and to be allowed the time and environment to deliver our best with the proper preparations.  

Most students are apprehensive regarding the potential health risk of doing exams sitting in close proximity to others while there is still Covid-19 in the community (this is especially true for those with underlying health conditions). 

It is also important to recognise that local schools such as Elim College and Macleans College have already cancelled their school exams with support from NCEA. 

We are petitioning the school to: 

a) Review and revise the dates for the school exams and ensure that there is a minimum of 3 weeks classroom time prior to the first exam. 

b) Place all focus on thoroughly teaching the content needed for the end of year NCEA examinations (this being the priority). 

We hope Mrs Brinsden will take this petition into consideration and will stand beside the senior BDSC students in their request to achieve a level of equity with the NCEA experiences of past and future senior classes. 




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