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Navigating the VCE online with Haileybury Pangea

What does VCE look like in an online school?

NEWS 31 May 2024

As students reach the pointy end of their years at senior school, the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) becomes a key focus.

Most students do the majority of their selected VCE subjects over Years 11 and 12. However, there are opportunities for Haileybury students to begin one or two VCE subjects in Year 10, allowing them to spread their VCE load over three years instead of two.

Haileybury Pangea also increases flexibility by offering students a part-time VCE pathway so they can balance their VCE workload with important commitments outside of school, such as high-level sports training.

Students from other schools can also study single VCE subjects at Haileybury Pangea to help boost their ATAR and university options, or to study a VCE subject that their home school may not offer.

“We provide multiple VCE pathways and students come to Haileybury Pangea to study VCE for different reasons,” says Haileybury Pangea Head of Campus, Joanna Baker.

“Some are looking for more autonomy and independence in their learning and they thrive in the online environment because they have a laser focus on their studies and on pushing themselves academically.

“Also, because we offer a range of VCE subjects, including some not commonly offered in other schools such as Latin and Computer Science, we see many students doing a single VCE subject with us.

“Importantly, because we are an online school, we can offer those subjects to students in rural and regional areas who often miss out on some of the more niche VCE subjects because of insufficient numbers in their home school. It’s exciting to be able to provide that opportunity to those students”
Joanna Baker, Head of Campus

Understanding the ATAR

Most students undertake five or six VCE subjects, with each subject comprising four units. Students accumulate scores from examinations and assessments to achieve a final Study Score for each subject and at the end of Year 12, those combined Study Scores give students an individual Australian Tertiary Admission Rank or ATAR.

“Universities use the ATAR to determine which students will be offered a place in different courses,” says Merinda Bermingham, Haileybury’s Head of Teaching & Learning (Senior School).

Briefly, the ATAR is calculated based on a student’s English subject Study Score and their next three highest subject Study Scores. The ATAR also incorporates 10 per cent of a student’s fifth and sixth subject Study Scores.

Subject Study Scores and scaling

Each year, some subjects are scaled up or down to ensure each subject is assessed fairly.

“For example, if students doing Subject A are achieving much higher across their studies than students in subject B, it doesn’t make sense that a subject Study Score of 30 in subject B is on a par with a subject Study Score of 30 in subject A,” explains Merinda.

“Subject A students are a much higher achieving cohort and so the benchmark to achieve a Subject Score of 30 in subject A has been higher. To recognise that and to make it fair, Subject A gets scaled up.”

Three years versus two years

Haileybury Pangea has a range of supports to help students achieve their best possible ATAR and so has a broad range of options after school.

“Allowing students to begin one or two VCE subjects in Year 10 creates flexibility in Years 11 and 12. It spreads out the volume of subjects and their content,” explains Merinda.

“By Year 12, most students have one or two VCE subjects completed, so they have more time and energy to study fewer subjects and that can help students achieve the best possible results for those remaining subjects.”

Haileybury Pangea helps students further optimise their ATAR by following the Northern Hemisphere Timetable for some VCE subjects, such as General Mathematics.

This spreads the VCE load further as the Northern Hemisphere subjects commence mid-year, with the final exams completed mid-way through the following year. This allows more time to focus on remaining Year 12 VCE exams at the end of the year.

Haileybury Pangea’s part-time VCE pathway also allows students to complete VCE over three years. They study up to three subjects at a time while also receiving the pastoral and wellbeing support and the academic coaching available to full-time Haileybury Pangea students.

“As well as appealing to high-performing student athletes, we’ve had students recovering from chronic illness and injury who have needed to pare back the pace of their studies. We also have students who are working and supporting their family farm who need to pace out their VCE studies”
Joanna Baker, Head of Campus

Finding a pathway

While students aim to achieve their best possible ATAR, not every student receives the score they hoped or planned for. In those circumstances, there are alternative pathways to help students navigate towards their goal and while the ATAR is important, it is not always the final decider as to university offers.

A Selection Rank is a student’s ATAR plus adjustments based on factors like a student’s performance in specific subjects or the location of their high school — if students are in remote areas or from a school that does not traditionally have many students entering tertiary education, their Selection Rank may be adjusted upwards.

Students who have faced medical or financial hardship or difficult circumstances during VCE may also have their Selection Rank boosted and this can improve the chances of gaining a university offer.

“We work closely with every family to support students to do as well as they can at VCE while also recognising their commitments and demands beyond school”
Joanna Baker, Head of Campus

“For our students, the VCE pathway and what comes after Haileybury Pangea can be a little more complex and so our dedicated careers team and our Director of Academic Development keep a close eye on progress and discuss preferred pathways and options after school.”


Join our upcoming webinar, Your essential guide to understanding the ATAR

Our upcoming live webinar aims to provide a comprehensive roadmap to demystifying the ATAR and unlocking its full potential for your child's academic journey. Hear from Derek Scott, CEO I Principal, Merinda Bermingham, Head of Teaching & Learning, and Catherine Johnston, Head of Careers & Pathways, where you will learn:

  • How to navigate the ATAR landscape: Understand the fundamental components of the ATAR, including how it's calculated, what factors influence it, and how you can optimise your performance.
  • Insider insights: Gain exclusive insights from the Haileybury team who bring years of experience and expertise in navigating the intricacies of the ATAR system.
  • Study tips: Learn strategic approaches and best practices for effective study habits, exam preparation, and subject selection to maximise the ATAR potential.

Whether you're a student or parent, this webinar is designed to equip you with the knowledge and tools needed to navigate the ATAR with confidence.

Register today to reserve your spot for this exclusive event!