As families around the country navigate their way through the intensity of having a teenager studying for year 12 in the home, ABC ME is re-airing last year's ground breaking series, My Year 12 Life, from Sunday 19 November alongside a brand new Where Are They Now? special on Thursday 14 December, to see where they have ended up after the biggest year of their lives thus far. My Year 7 Life, following grade 6 kids getting ready for high school will premiere on ABC in 2018 and shows the intensity is just as stressful, for students and parents alike.
What is My Year 12 Life?
At the start of 2016, ABC TV and Princess Pictures launched an unprecedented television experiment. After scouring the country and watching hundreds of auditions, they gave cameras to a diverse group of 14 teenagers to film the most dramatic 12 months of their lives – Year 12. The resulting vlogumentary series gives a fascinating insight in to the year teenagers are told will make or break you. Teenagers are under enormous pressure for perfect ATAR scores, but first year university students are leaving their original chosen courses at a higher rate than ever. New data shows about one in five commencing bachelor students left their original course in 2014, and about 15 per cent dropped out completely. The figures also see the increase in the number of students not completing their chosen course climb to more than one million for the first time.
Romance, Fun, Angst, Family, High Emotions, Regrets, Fears, Hopes, Happiness. Their lives and hormones are already evolving at rapid speed and the added pressure and expectation around what will their Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) number will be is too much for so many? Will their results be enough? Does it actually matter? What does it look like on the other side?
Pioneering a new form of storytelling, there were no film crews or producers on the ground, just 14 teenagers self-documenting their stories straight to camera in their own way. The resulting footage captures the raw drama of their final year of school, and reminds us how pivotal Year 12 is, what the future looks like at 18, and shines a light on how this has changed over the years. Inspired by the serious stress the ATAR is putting on kids, this series aims to start a national conversation about the pressures of Year 12 and explores how our education system prepares young people to enter further studies or the workforce.
In each episode the students talk about the issues they're facing, including the pressure of the impending ATAR exams– and how they feel this will define their future; parental, cultural and school pressures; body image; stress and anxiety; and school and social life balance. The vlog diaries give the students an avenue to vent about these issues –honest, candid, often humorous, and sometimes heart-breaking confessions.
Question: Why did you and your daughter Shianna decide to participate in My Year 12 Life?
Mary Scott: Well to tell you the truth, I had no idea she had auditioned for the show. Shianna only told me when she got a Skype interview. A friend had told her about the show and said that she would be great in something like that so that's when she decided to audition. I was really excited for her when she told me that she had been selected to be a part.
We both also thought it would be a great opportunity for her to video diary her year and look back at the events and struggles that had happened through that year. Plus I think we were both super excited about an appearance on TV.
Question: Would you still participate if you knew, in advance, how 2017 was going to be for Shianna?
Mary Scott: I think I would, because for her to come home every afternoon from school and be able to talk to a camera about her daily struggles really helped her. Plus it meant the camera copped all the crap from her and not me… And, I think because everything that was said was so raw I hoped that it would help the future students going into Year 12.
Question: Can you tell us about your experience?
Mary Scott: It was a challenging year for us all. Not only dealing with Shianna and her Year 12 experience but also dealing with a marriage separation. I know this was hard for everyone but it affected Shianna more than any of us as that was the last thing she needed to go through. But I think she came out stronger than us all. I really learnt a great deal about Shianna in this experience. I realised how mature she had become and also that her determined personality pushed through all the barriers and brought her out on top. Becoming Dux of her school was the greatest achievement ever and I have never been as proud as I was that day.
Question: How difficult was it to watch your daughter daughter go through the highs and lows of Year 12?
Mary Scott: It was really difficult. Probably the most difficult year of her school life. Shianna is very much an achiever and puts a lot of pressure on herself. She also had a lot of pressure put on her by her teachers She not only wanted to do her best she wanted to be number 1 so for her to achieve that our lives were pretty much turned upside down. Many times I copped the blame, abuse and mood swings which I just took with a
grain of salt as I know what she is like. And then other times I saw her laying on the shower floor in absolute tears cause she couldn't cope anymore, that is really hard to deal with when you see your child in that situation and all you can do is hold them and be there for them.
Question: What did you learn, as a parent, during My Year 12 Life?
Mary Scott: I learnt to be very patient, understanding, and empathetic. I just had to roll with the punches and not take things to heart when things got tough. I had to be there for her when she needed me to be but most important I learnt how strong my daughter was.
Question: What advice do you have for parents of 2018 Year 12 students?
Mary Scott: The only advice I can give is be there for them, cut them some slack and if they say I can't cope with this believe them and try and help them in every way possible. It is all about them and you need to put your life aside if need be.
Question: What message would you give a 2018 Year 12 student?
Mary Scott: Relax, don't put pressure on yourselves and enjoy the ride. Year 12 was the best year of my life but was my daughters worst. It doesn't have to be like that and please don't let a number define who you are. There are so many ways to get around creating the career path that you desire. There is no rule to say you have to study after school, there is no rule to say you have to do this and do that. It is your life and you need to live it how you desire. Year 12 is not the end of the world…
Question: What do you hope Australians take from watching My Year 12 Life?
Mary Scott: I hope that people realise that there is a lot of pressure on our younger generation to do well in year 12. It's not about wrapping them up in cotton wool and being protective of them. I've seen Shianna at her lowest of low and I never want to see her go through that again. I was always a parent who preached about doing your best at school and achieving as well as expected but after seeing what Shianna went through in Year 12 that was all trivial. It changed my whole perspective on Year 12 because at the end of the day all I was concerned about was her health and happiness.
Interview by Brooke Hunter