[Design and Technology] The future of VCE Product Design & Technology - Help needed

Elizabeth Keep ekeep at pgs.vic.edu.au
Thu Aug 20 03:34:15 UTC 2020

Felicity only you can make the decision that is right for you. It does however sound like you are so torn between what you feel you should be doing and what you want to do. The anxiety you feel is so unnecessary if we didn’t have the pressure of assessing students against criteria 6-9. Making a product is the only way that this can be done, but I’m not prepared to put myself or my students at risk both physically or mentally in order to do this.  If these criteria had been omitted then the students and us would be much safer and would have the pressure off. Good luck with it all and no doubt you will achieve the best you can with what you have been given.
Take care and keep connected.

Elizabeth Keep


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From: destech <destech-bounces at edulists.com.au> On Behalf Of Felicity McNamara
Sent: Thursday, 20 August 2020 10:04 AM
To: Design and Technology Teachers' Mailing List <destech at edulists.com.au>
Subject: Re: [Design and Technology] The future of VCE Product Design & Technology - Help needed

Thanks to everyone for sharing your concerns to this forum.
In some ways it is good to see that others feel the same way I do. But also distressing to read how difficult this is for us all and our students and primarily how inequitable this will all be in the end for some student.

At this stage my school had approved for me to come in once a week for an afternoon with my students to complete some prac work over the next 4 weeks. They will attempt some type of modified product. I am lucky that all of my students are relatively close to the school and can manage to get in, and that we have the materials available. I know not all schools are in this position. So, while I am very disappointed that this is how the assessment had to happen, I don’t know what other choice I have. The VCAA has now told us we need to assess all of the criteria in some way even if it is only some of the indicators.

My points that I am worried about are:

 1.  School with children who live far away or schools that cannot open because of Covid outbreaks and so cannot complete this work- so how do they rank the students in these criteria. Some schools in the west of Melbourne surely won’t be able to have students come onto the campus as numbers of Covid are still so high in their areas. It is not fair on staff or students to be put in that position. And students who go to boarding school- how can we presume that can do any production work? So, in thinking about them how on earth are any of these rankings across schools even. Different schools/students will have completed very different actual amounts of work.
 2.  I am spending time completing all of this folio and production work now- much later than expected and so am not starting exam revision with my student until much later. Will this now disadvantage my students in the exam- which will ultimately rank them across the state?
 3.  I have concerns about the student’s mental health. I have such a great group of kids who are already so disappointed with their final year of school.
 4.  How can we be safe coming into school- shared equipment etc. We will of course follow all protocols but as we have seen this does not always work. So, across schools it is the PD&T teachers being put at risk, while other subjects have modified curriculum and staff are not having to make a choice about risk like PD&T teachers are.
 5.  I’m too busy, stressed and short of time now to fight the VCAA about any of this anymore. I have to just get on with it and hope for the best (does not seen like the way it should be does it?)

Best of luck to you all. I feel for all of you and echo all of your sentiments. At least we all know we feel the same way.

I am thinking of you all.

Stay safe.

Felicity McNamara,
Product Design and Technology Leading Teacher
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From: destech <destech-bounces at edulists.com.au<mailto:destech-bounces at edulists.com.au>> on behalf of David Pitt <dpitt at huntingtower.vic.edu.au<mailto:dpitt at huntingtower.vic.edu.au>>
Reply to: Design and Technology Teachers' Mailing List <destech at edulists.com.au<mailto:destech at edulists.com.au>>
Date: Thursday, 20 August 2020 at 9:02 am
To: Design and Technology Teachers' Mailing List <destech at edulists.com.au<mailto:destech at edulists.com.au>>
Cc: Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority <vcaa at education.vic.gov.au<mailto:vcaa at education.vic.gov.au>>, "elvin.barbara.g at edumail.vic.gov.au<mailto:elvin.barbara.g at edumail.vic.gov.au>" <elvin.barbara.g at edumail.vic.gov.au<mailto:elvin.barbara.g at edumail.vic.gov.au>>, "o’neill.geoffrey.m at edumail.vic.gov.au" <o?neill.geoffrey.m at edumail.vic.gov.au<mailto:o?neill.geoffrey.m at edumail.vic.gov.au>>, "douglass.robyn.f at edumail.vic.gov.au<mailto:douglass.robyn.f at edumail.vic.gov.au>" <douglass.robyn.f at edumail.vic.gov.au<mailto:douglass.robyn.f at edumail.vic.gov.au>>, "seabury.justin.s at edumail.vic.gov.au<mailto:seabury.justin.s at edumail.vic.gov.au>" <seabury.justin.s at edumail.vic.gov.au<mailto:seabury.justin.s at edumail.vic.gov.au>>
Subject: Re: [Design and Technology] The future of VCE Product Design & Technology - Help needed

Well put.

From the outset, VCAA guidance was vague, incomplete, pending, or outright incompatible with the nature of the assessment indicators as they could be applied – even disregarding the enormous discrepancy in available access we will see across school settings.

I also echo your dismay at the core element of the response that the SAT serves only to rank your students.  We know already that the VCE is a simply a tool for creating easily applied university entry processes, but If a ranking is all that is required and not any significant investment in the student’s whole pathway and learning experience, then surely certain indicators could be waived and still provide a perfectly serviceable ranking.

I know we want more for our students, more for them to take away at the end than a score, but this has not been considered the focus at all in the advice given – it has been nothing but administrative.  This, despite the significant health, wellbeing (both mental and physical, and both teacher and student) and timeline benefits for the subject in making realistic modifications, particularly considering the heavy impact of isolation on a practical SAT task so heavily dependant on equipment and adequate supervision.

Wholeheartedly disappointed.

David Pitt Head of Department – Design Technology.
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From: destech <destech-bounces at edulists.com.au<mailto:destech-bounces at edulists.com.au>> On Behalf Of Whitehouse, Stuart
Sent: Thursday, 20 August 2020 8:47 AM
To: destech at edulists.com.au<mailto:destech at edulists.com.au>
Cc: Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority <vcaa at education.vic.gov.au<mailto:vcaa at education.vic.gov.au>>; elvin.barbara.g at edumail.vic.gov.au<mailto:elvin.barbara.g at edumail.vic.gov.au>; seabury.justin.s at edumail.vic.gov.au<mailto:seabury.justin.s at edumail.vic.gov.au>; o’neill.geoffrey.m at edumail.vic.gov.au <o?neill.geoffrey.m at edumail.vic.gov.au<mailto:o?neill.geoffrey.m at edumail.vic.gov.au>>; douglass.robyn.f at edumail.vic.gov.au<mailto:douglass.robyn.f at edumail.vic.gov.au>
Subject: [Design and Technology] The future of VCE Product Design & Technology - Help needed

Dear all

In the absence of a response from my latest email to the VCAA, I feel disheartened by the lack of support and leadership being displayed.  The response from the VCAA,  given to a number of colleagues on this forum has been identical in its wording displaying a corporate response to a widespread concern without actually addressing the pressing concerns or questions being posed.

I am sure that there are a number of staff that would relish the idea of heading back in for face to face classes in an attempt to move the practical element along which is admirable and typical of the dedication and commitment that we have as a body of professionals.  However, not every school finds itself in the same position for a myriad of reasons.  Many Datta Vic members have openly expressed their concern and dismay. Many have presented possible solutions to try and create some form of assessment to the practical component and its relevant criteria. Staff have also been gracious with their time to direct fellow colleagues to the often hard to find updates and directions from the VCAA which in itself is time consuming and with its own challenges.

What we are left with is a deafening silence from our only curriculum assessment body that in a time of crisis, has failed to give support and timely guidance to its members, when it was most needed.  It’s response has left me dumfounded in that their approach to assessment in only about ranking and nothing to do with one of the major drivers of education, learning.

Unfortunately,  I see no resolution to this current predicament that takes into consideration the concerns of all Victorian schools, students and staff.  The response to assessment from the VCAA has made a mockery of its purpose and intent, leaving questions around the authenticity of assessment, audits and governance. It has also highlighted a lack of understanding of our curriculum.

Elizabeth, Dean and many others have been champions in attempting to seek reason and equity for all schools, and whether or not you are in agreement, the need for equity across all schools is desperately needed now more than ever.

If all schools could show their support, even if you are in a position to meet the assessment criteria in some shape or form, then perhaps the VCAA will recognise at the bare minimum, consider the need to discuss a solution that is equitable for all and one that doesn’t  undermine the integrity of our subject.

Please show your support by posting on the forum if you have a moment to spare.

Keep safe and good luck.

Warm regards


Stuart Whitehouse
Head of Technology

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