What the ‘new HSC’ will mean for your child

A ‘new HSC’ will commence in 2020 and if your child is in Year 9 this year, he or she will be affected.

Kids First director and teacher, Sonja Walker, shares this summary with parents.

Changes to the NSW will affect all students from 2017 - Teachers at Kids First Children's Services in Sydney's northern beaches explain

The HSC is changing in NSW, and for kids and parents, the ‘new HSC’ will take some getting used to.

If your child is in Year 9 this year, he or she will be affected by sweeping changes to HSC eligibility as well as the introduction of revamped syllabi in key subjects like English, Maths, Science and History.

According to the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA), the changes are all about achieving stronger HSC standards.

From 2020, in order to sit for the HSC, students in Years 9, 10 and 11 will have to demonstrate that they meet minimum literacy and numeracy standards.

So why the change?

Well, the HSC as we currently know it has been in place since January 2000.

But during the past 17 years, much has changed for teenagers attending NSW schools.

Once, it was legal for kids to leave school when they reached a minimum age of 14 years and 9 months.

This changed in 2010 when NSW law was altered to require all NSW students to complete Year 10 and until the age of 17, be either at school, engaged in an approved education or training course or working in paid, full-time employment for an average of 25 hours a week.

More kids are staying at school

This change in the minimum school leaving age meant that many kids who might have previously left school to take up apprenticeships, traineeships or full-time jobs at the end of Year 10 were forced to stay at school.

Having taught many of these kids in my time, I know full well that the academic nature of most HSC subjects, which haven’t really changed much in the past two decades, were not really geared up for their success.

According to NESA, the ‘new’ HSC will give all students a better chance to follow educational pathways that are suited to their skills, talents, interests and abilities…and for lots of 15 to 17 year olds, this is a good thing.

What is changing and when?

If your son or daughter is in Year 9 this year, the 2017 NAPLAN tests will be their first chance to prove that they meet the minimum literacy and numeracy standard needed to be automatically granted the opportunity to sit for the HSC when the ‘new’ HSC begins in 2010.

To do this, your child will need to achieve Band 8 results or above in this years’ reading, writing and numeracy tests.

Students who achieve Band 8 will not need to sit the online tests later in Years 10, 11 and 12.


If past NAPLAN results are an indicator, it is likely that less than one third of the students in NSW will demonstrate that they have reached all three minimum standards in the Year 9 NAPLAN examinations.

Therefore, it’s highly likely that many students will be required to demonstrate the minimum standard after Year 9.

If your child is one of this kids, they will not be alone and failing to meet minimum standards in the Year 9 NAPLAN exam will not end their HSC chances!

It is important to note that no student will be ineligible to sit for the HSC on the basis of their Year 9 NAPLAN results.

What options will students have?

If your child does not meet the HSC minimum Literacy and Numeracy standards in the Year 9 NAPLAN, there will further opportunities in subsequent years to ‘make the grade’.

NESA plans to set up a series of online reading, writing and numeracy tests, which will be available for students to sit in Years 10, 11 and 12 and for up to five years after beginning their HSC Courses.

If and when students pass these online exams, they will be eligible to sit for the HSC.

On-line testing

Further details regarding the scheduling of the online tests available in Years 10, 11 and 12 will be released by NESA in July 2017.

Students will receive at least two opportunities to sit for these tests in each year.

Year 12 and students who don’t sit for the HSC

Students who do not sit for the HSC won’t leave school with nothing to show for their years of senior schooling.

Any student who does not meet the minimum standards for literacy and numeracy by the end of Year 12 will receive a Record of School Achievement (RoSA) from NESA which will provide the results of all HSC courses undertaken.

These days, the variety of subjects being taught is school is much wider than it has ever been in the past, and this will continue to be the case as schools and educational authorities are working hard to develop a broader range of courses that meet students’ learning and vocational needs.

Large numbers of school leavers are now finishing school with TAFE and vocational qualifications that give them a head start on their chosen career, so if your child does not sit for a formal HSC, this will not mean that he or she won’t have valuable educational experiences in the last two years of school.

Time line for change

NESA have published the following timeline:


  • Publication of courses and support material for Year 9 and 10 students who are identified at risk of not demonstrating the minimum numeracy standard by the end of Year 10
  • Consultation on exemption policy
  • Minimum standard rules and guidelines published.
  • Online reading, writing and numeracy tests piloted.
  • Schools Online and Students Online websites updated


  • First Year 10 students sit online reading, writing and numeracy tests


  • First HSC for students who have met the minimum standard in literacy  and numeracy

Parent resources

If you have any questions relating to these changes, I  encourage you to visit the NESA webpages linked below or contact teachers at your child’s school for further information .

© 2017 Sonja Walker
Kids First Children’s Services

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Kids First Children’s Services’ qualified teachers have years of classroom experience and have helped hundreds of northern beaches children achieve to their potential in Maths and English

Individual tuition in Maths is available on Saturdays with qualified teachers who work one to one with students in Years 7 to 12, helping them the master the Maths curriculum.

High school English and Writing Skills groups are taught by Kids First director and teacher, Sonja Walker, on Thursday afternoons.

These dynamic small groups teach teens strategies and techniques to write confidently so that they become confident essay writers.

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Contact Kids First Children’s Services on 9938 5419 to discuss your high schooler’s tuition needs.

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