Long before COVID-19 brought remote learning to a generation of students, Saskia Rose was already studying online, part of a select group of year 9 students learning the ancient language of Latin.
Saskia has just finished year 12 and scored a perfect 50 in the official language of ancient Rome. She is among 40,000 graduates to receive university, TAFE and independent tertiary college offers this month.
“I was keen on learning about the etymology of words we use in our everyday language. I was also interested in the cultural, historical and mythological aspects of Latin,” she said.
“I gained a better appreciation of the nuances of language – yes Latin, but also English. I also think that studying Latin has taught me many lessons from the past that are still relevant today.”
Only a handful of Victorian schools offer year 12 Latin, in which students examine The Aeneid by the Roman poet Virgil, written between 30-19 BC.
Saskia was part of an online class of 20 at the Victorian School of Languages and found a tutor from the Melbourne Latin School.
Sacred Heart Girls’ College VCE student Alana Stillman scored a 48 for Dance.Credit:Simon Schulter
Saskia, who will study law and biomedical science at Monash, is one of many students who followed their passions into more obscure subjects for their final year of school, both for pleasure and to boost their career options.
Alana Stillman has been dancing since she was three and was one of only two year 12 dance students at her school.
The Sacred Heart Girls’ College graduate said she was nervous taking the year 12 subject as it was “very subjective”.
Alana had to analyse group and solo works, and choreograph two solo dances, which she performed. She received a study score of 48.
Top 10 VCE subjects by enrolments
- English 40,623
- Further maths 31,744
- Psychology 18,525
- Maths methods 15,345
- Business management 15,246
- Health and human development 14,713
- Biology 14,675
- Chemistry 10,832
- Physical education 10,356
- Legal studies 9,325
“I’m considering studying dance, specifically choreography,” she said. “I find that really interesting and rewarding. I love coming up with original ideas.”
Xavier College dux Marco Jim, who was one of only 39 Victorian students to receive a perfect ATAR of 99.95, studied classical Greek with just one classmate.
Classical Greek was the least studied VCE subject last year, with 10 or fewer enrolments.
“It’s quite different to learning a modern language,” Marco said.
His interest in the language comes from his love of literature and philosophy.
Deborah Jernejcic, riding her horse Mac, scored a 47 for equine studies.
“Yes, you put in a lot of effort, but after all of that and you dive into the nuance of the language … it’s rewarding in the end.”
The top 10 VCE subjects by enrolment this year were English, further mathematics, psychology, maths methods, business management, health and human development, biology, chemistry, physical education and legal studies.
While enrolment numbers for less common subjects won’t be released until next year, remote learning has made it easier for students to study passion subjects outside their school. The least studied VCE subjects last year were all languages, the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority said.
Studies with 10 or fewer year 12 enrolments in 2021
- Classical Greek
- Japanese First Language
- Korean First Language
- Indigenous Languages of Victoria
- Indonesian First Language
- Classical Hebrew
Enrolments have surged at online-only Virtual School Victoria since the pandemic began, driven by students studying subjects that are unavailable at their school because of weak demand or a lack of qualified teachers, as well as full-time enrolments.
Camberwell High School graduate Robert Wansbrough was the only VCE student in the state to receive a score above 40 in furnishing.
Robert learned intricate joinery and made tables, a toolbox and a chair and plans to study carpentry.
“I thought it would be a good insight into the trades,” he said.
Assistant principal Maureen Saulter said 70 students at Camberwell High did vocational education and training subjects.
“They are really career subjects and that’s why they are choosing them,” she said.
Deborah Jernejcic turned her passion for horses into academic success. The Our Lady of Mercy College graduate scored a 47 for equine studies, which covers everything from anatomy to feeding.
The 18-year-old attended the Box Hill Institute each Wednesday afternoon and made friends with equine students from other schools.
Deborah intends to study teaching – “not related to horses at all” – but was thrilled she was able to incorporate equine studies into her schooling.
“Knowing that was a subject that was available for me to do, I always wanted to choose it,” she said. “[I wanted to] do something I was interested in, rather than choosing a subject I didn’t exactly enjoy”.
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