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Parents and guardians of Year 12 students often have questions and concerns about the year. The following information and advice is an attempt to answer some of the most common questions.

How can I help my son in a subject that I know nothing about?
It is enough if you ask general questions about each subject, such as 'What are you doing in accounting at the moment?' or 'What are you learning in physics?' It doesn't matter if you don't understand the answer. Just talking about the subject helps students to clarify and remember information, and to identify gaps in their knowledge or understanding.

How much homework should I expect my son to be doing at night, and would this be the same on weekends and holidays?
This question constantly arises. Some people say four hours per night; some say six, with the exception of weekends and holidays. There is certainly no doubt that in Year 12, a student should be doing some homework every night, whether this is set work or the student's own private study (for example, re-reading set texts, note-making or summarising). How many hours should be spent? This depends on how quickly the student works.

Some students work slowly and meticulously. Others struggle to understand the work and need a longer time to absorb the material. Some students have very little difficulty and finish their work quickly.

Provided they are motivated and well organised, students should be mature enough to determine how many hours of study or homework is needed to keep up-to-date with their work.

Balance is important, and if you feel that your son is spending too much time on homework and going to bed too late too often, you should raise this matter with them. Perhaps your child needs to work on time management, or needs to adopt some strategies for the achievement of a better balance between work and leisure.

Friendship groups can be a great help with homework. The best type of study regime includes personal study time as well as productive study time with like-minded friends, who can lift individuals up, challenge them, inspire them and keep them on target when the pressure becomes too great.

What if my son is an EAL or special needs student?
In English, there are minor differences in the school-assessed coursework and the exam for EAL students. These differences are explained in the relevant sections of the VCAA Study Design and the English VCE course on this website. There are also provisions for students with special needs. For example, in some cases, it is possible to get extra time for the completion of coursework. This might be the case in other subjects as well, so please ensure that your son speaks to the appropriate teacher or the school's VCE coordinator about this.

How important is the mid-year General Achievement Test (GAT) and can my son do anything to prepare for it?
This test is VERY important. It is one of the ways your son's final study scores are determined. You should encourage your son to take the GAT seriously and complete it to the best of their ability. Your school should be able to supply you with information about the GAT and you can access past GAT papers on the VCAA website

How can I help my son with choices for next year and beyond?
Students in Year 12 are called upon to make some very important decisions about their future. As parents, you can help by discussing the various options, allowing the students to attend open days at tertiary institutions, even accompanying them if possible, and encouraging your child to think carefully and honestly about what they would like to do in the future. Speak to your child's teachers and ask for their advice.

What if an illness or a personal or family-related problem occurs during the year?
Time missed from classes is hard to make up. Be very reluctant to keep your son home from school, especially if an SAC is scheduled for that day. Try to make medical or dental appointments outside of school hours. If your son is sick, call the Year 12 coordinator and find out what work will be missed if he or she stays home, and make your decision accordingly.

In the case of a prolonged illness or other serious problem, make an appointment to speak to the Year 12 or VCE coordinator. The school may be able to assist by providing alternative arrangements for the completion of school-assessed coursework.

In the case of an examination being missed or adversely affected, your son can apply to the VCAA (through the principal of the school) for a 'Derived Examination Score', which is calculated using the results of the school-assessed tasks, the GAT score and the indicative grades provided by the school. More information about special provision can be found on the VCAA website

How much contact should I have with the teachers? What help can the school provide?
Parents should take advantage of every opportunity to speak to teachers. Go to information nights and report nights. Establish a rapport with the teachers early in the year, if possible, and after that it will be easy to maintain contact. The school can help with advice about tertiary courses and careers, information about your son's attitude, effort and progress, access to health and counselling services, and it can also provide resources such as second-hand textbooks and access to information technology. Teachers will have information about student revision days run by subject associations and universities.

What can I do if my son becomes moody and non-communicative?
This is a common occurrence and is often the result of tiredness or stress. Parents should not feel threatened or get angry or upset. Just try to keep all channels of communication open. The moodiness should pass. Communication should improve.

If there is no improvement, you might call the Year 12 coordinator to see if there is something occurring at school that you don't know about and which might explain your son's behaviour. If your son needs some professional help, many schools have counsellors who are trained to deal with such issues.

Should I continue to demand help with household chores from the Year 12 student?
It is really up to you and your family to work out what best suits your situation. Many teachers believe that Year 12 students should continue to lead a normal family life, which might include doing chores, but perhaps you might go easy on them at exam times.

Should my child keep up his part-time job?
As well as a study regime, every Year 12 student needs a personal and social life, which may include a commitment to a sporting team, an exercise program, or a part-time job, but it is important to maintain a balance. If the pressure of schoolwork becomes too great and there are too many demands on the student's time, the number of hours spent on activities such as the part-time job may need to be cut back.

Specific information about English/EAL for parents/guardians
English is compulsory in VCE and students must satisfactorily complete at least three out of four units of English (or an alternative, such as Literature, or English Language) over the two years of VCE in order to pass. Two of these units must be a 3/4 combination. Here is some advice about how you can help your son to do well in English:

Make an effort to read the set texts. It is a real advantage if you can discuss the texts with your son and offer an adult's point of view. If you have not read the texts, it would still be helpful if you simply listened to your son talk about them. Questions you might ask about the texts include:
— What is the text about?
— Which characters can you identify with and why?
— What questions about life does the text make you think about?
— Are you going to write about the text in the exam? Why or why not?
— What questions might the examiners ask?
Year 12 English involves a great deal of reading, and the more efficiently students read, the better off they will be. It is an advantage if students can skim a passage and comprehend it quickly and accurately. Once again, this skill can be improved with practice. Some places offer courses in speed-reading. If your son has difficulty with reading comprehension, encourage them to read as often as possible (newspapers, books and magazines, for example). Why not set aside some quiet reading time for the whole family? Advice and exercises designed to hone reading skills can be found in your son's grammar textbooks when he was in year 9 and 10 purchased.
One of the SACs in Year 12 English Unit 3 is the study of an issue in the media, so it is of great benefit to students if families receive a daily newspaper and watch the news regularly on television. Watching current affairs programs and discussing topical issues would help too.
An oral presentation is a requirement of the English course. Encourage your child to practise his or her speech in front of you and/or other members of the family. They probably won't want to do it, but never mind about that! The more practice at delivering orals, the better. Advice and exercises designed to hone oral skills can be found in your son's textbook and on this website.
Writing for a variety of purposes and audiences is an important part of VCE English. Perhaps the whole family might find time to write regularly. When was the last time you wrote someone a letter? If the whole family kept a journal about important events, just as they keep family photographs and videos, what a wonderful historical record that would be!
The mechanics of English — spelling, grammar, punctuation — are important. Encourage your son to draft his work. Whenever possible, use a dictionary, refer to a reliable grammar resource and keep a personal glossary of new words, key terms for various aspects of the course, and words often spelt incorrectly. Advice and exercises designed to hone writing skills can be found in your son's grammar textbooks and on this website.

Last up-dated 12 November, 2012
Website originally designed and constructed by V. Karvelas, 2004
Up-dated and constructed and maintained by G. Marotous, 2007
© George Marotous. Melbourne High School English Faculty