More NSW school students relying on disability provisions to finish exams, graduate high school

more nsw school students relying on disability provisions to finish exams, graduate high school

Following a farm accident that resulted in him losing his arm, Michael became determined to finish his final exams. (Supplied)

When Michael Ryan suffered life-threatening injuries in a farm accident in 2022 while studying for the HSC, he wasn't sure if he'd be able to graduate.

"During my HSC journey, I suffered an amputation to my left arm as the result of a farm accident," he said.

"It was a while that involved rehabilitation, learning how to walk again. I lost so much muscle and weight that I lost pretty much the ability to walk."

After months in hospital, he became determined to find a way to finish his studies.

"I didn't want to come out of it and not graduate year 12. I wanted to finish the HSC that year, I was looking forward to it all year."

Disability provisions vital for getting through

Michael, 19, said the availability of disability provisions meant he was able to get through his exams.

"Those exam provisions just helped me adjust to the actual exam conditions because you're taking longer for the exams," he said.

"I had a lot of mental rehabilitation to do and obviously writing was quite difficult at the start, I had a lot of phantom limb pain and all the successive stuff that was a limiting factor that other students wouldn't have experienced."

[GRAPH]

Michael's part of a growing number of students taking advantage of extra provisions to get through the HSC year.

In the past five years, the proportion of students applying for disability provisions has risen from 10 to 15 per cent.

Levelling the playing field

Education Minister Prue Car said disability provisions were a way to even the playing field.

"Importantly, with access to HSC disability provisions for his exams, Michael was able to achieve outstanding results," the minister said.

"In the face of adversity, these students have shown tenacity and spirit – and I commend them sincerely."

Michael is now studying law and business at university and coaches rugby at his old high school, St Joseph's College in Hunters Hill on Sydney's north shore.

Last year, he received a Brother John Taylor Memorial Prize, which the NSW Education Standards Authority awards to students who've overcome extraordinary challenges to succeed in the HSC.

Michael returned to parliament house this week to meet with this year's recipients.

He said he wanted people to know that adversity doesn't have to be the end of the story.

"As hard as things may get, they always get better," Michael said.

"The opportunities that come may not be what you envisage, but they may spark a new interest in life."

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