HIGHER SCHOOL CERTIFICATE EXAMINATIONS
Mr THOMAS GEORGE
(Lismore) [5.59 p.m.]: Like all members, I convey my best wishes to every student sitting this year's Higher School Certificate exams. I am pleased to see the Minister for Education and Training in the Chamber. I remember when my boys did their Higher School Certificate exams and I know that they create a great deal of pressure. I pay tribute to the students who have worked hard to reach this stage in their education. I have admitted in this House on a number of occasions that I did not take that opportunity. I was in the first year 10 cohort under the Wyndham scheme and I convinced my parents that I knew everything and that I should leave school. I am still learning to this day and I now know that I should have taken that opportunity.
I pay tribute to the young people who have succeeded in getting this far. I stress to them that if they do not get the results they are aiming for it is not the end of the world. As long as they know they have done their best they can set goals and get on in life if they work hard. Members might think my contribution is unusual, but in my electorate I have high schools at Bonalbo, Woodenbong, Kyogle, Murwillumbah and Lismore. Those schools include Wollumbin High School, Murwillumbah High School, St John's College, Woodlawn, Trinity Catholic College and Mount St Patrick College at Murwillumbah and Richmond River High School and Lismore High School at Lismore.
Kadina High School is in my electorate. I decided to make a private members' statement today to reassure the students of Kadina High School that they have the support of not only the people of Lismore but also all members of this House. The students, staff and everyone else associated with the school are going through a very trying period, and this must be an especially difficult time for the school's year 12 students. I reassure everybody at that school and all the other schools that I have mentioned that they have community support and that they are in our prayers and thoughts. I know the students will work very hard to achieve good results.
As I said, the exam period is a very difficult and trying time for students. Young people never cease to amaze me. Like all members, I have been to many graduation ceremonies over the past few weeks. It is wonderful to hear about students' achievements and to be a part of recognising them. We all feel very proud of them. The students are a credit to themselves, their families and the schools they represent. They are the future of this State and this country.
I recently had the honour of accompanying the Governor of New South Wales, Professor Marie Bashir, on a visit to Kadina High School. The Governor offered her support and encouragement to the students. One could have heard a pin drop during her 20-minute speech. I have never witnessed students at an assembly so in awe of a speaker. We are all very touched that the Governor offered her support to the school. I reassure all the schools in my electorate that they have our support. I extend my sympathies to the students, staff and everybody else associated with Kadina High School.
Ms VERITY FIRTH
(Balmain—Minister for Education and Training) [6.04 p.m.]: I appreciate the comments of the member for Lismore and the warm wishes he has extended to students sitting the Higher School Certificate exams not only in his electorate but also across the State. I am sure I echo the sentiments of all members when I extend my best wishes to the 69,261 students who are sitting the exams this year. We are on their side and it is natural for them to be nervous. However, they should remember to keep the exams in perspective. There are many different pathways to the courses and careers they wish to pursue and these exams are not the be-all and end-all. I extend warm wishes to their parents, who are also experiencing trying times this month. Those parents have nursed their children through 13 years of school and are now nursing them through the final nerve-wracking month.
I endorse and appreciate the comments made by the member for Lismore about Kadina High School. I am sure that he echoes the thoughts of all members. Our sympathies and best wishes are with the students, parents and staff—indeed, with the entire school community—during this time. Our thoughts are particularly with the students. The Higher School Certificate exam period can be stressful at the best of times, but the Kadina High School students are facing extra stresses. We appreciate the work being done by the students, parents, staff and rest of the school community. I endorse the comments of the member for Lismore.