RAY COLLINS: The "Grand Final" for Year 12

The beginning of Term 4 often coincides with the Long Weekend in October which we have just celebrated. In NSW it celebrates Labour Day, commemorating the awarding of the principle of the 8 Hour Day which refers to the need for all workers to have the day set out as 8 hours of work, 8 Hours recreation and 8 Hours of rest.

I’m not that sure that many Australians could identify what each of our long weekends are associated with, particularly as they are celebrated in different months in different states.

What they can identify, across all States, is that this weekend in October is certainly associated with the Grand Finals of two of Australia’s major Winter sports, Rugby League and Australian Football.

There was an added dimension this weekend with the Australian Rugby Union team winning a crucial Rugby World Cup match against England at Twickenham
So for the sports lovers amongst us it was a feast of quality sport with the wins by Hawthorn, the Wallabies and North Queensland Cowboys delighting their respective fans. Even for those who aren’t followers of these sports the theatre of the Rugby Union and Rugby League wins in particular was hard to ignore.

As we begin Term 4 we realise that for our Year 12 students, their “Grand Final” of their school years will commence with the first of the Higher School Certificate examinations next week. The HSC has been part of the NSW education scene for almost 50 years and no doubt the pressure of the preparation for and participation in these examinations has been experienced by many in our community.

In many ways there are some common elements between the HSC and the preparation that sportsmen and sportswomen undertake as they progress from the commencement of their season to the final match of the year.

The Rugby League Grand Final between the Cowboys and the Broncos provides us with a possible analogy for our students as they embrace their challenges next week. Both teams have prepared well throughout the year to reach the Grand Final. They have focused on the development of skills that enabled them to win their position in this last match of the year. In sport there is a winner and a loser. For some students, success in the HSC will be applauded in their school, families, communities and even state. For some, there will be disappointment if their results do not equate with their hopes.

Perhaps Wayne Bennett, Coach of the Broncos, summed it up best in his press conference when he highlighted how both teams played a high quality game of Rugby League and he did not consider his team to be losers. He was immensely proud of them and their efforts.

I know that as our students embrace the HSC, that like the players featuring in the games of the long weekend, they will enjoy the support of their families, their teachers and their fellow students. Irrespective of their results, this support and pride in their efforts will be ever present.

We wish them well and thank them for the contribution they have made to our school communities in their student years. Our prayers and support will be with them next week.

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Ray Collins

Ray Collins is the Director of Schools within the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle. He is an authority on education issues.

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