Opinion Pieces

Class of 2019 - Trailblazers

November 15, 2019


As the Class of 2019 walk through their school gates for the last time this week, they will be setting a course through unchartered waters.  This class has been doing this ever since they began their schooling thirteen years ago.

Attending Speech Nights in Moreton I’ve noticed that this cohort of Year Twelves is much smaller than last year.  In fact they’re half the size.  The Class of 2019 are the first group in Queensland to start their schooling with Prep.  The Preparatory Year commenced in Queensland in 2007.  There was a six month switch in start dates from calendar year cut-off to financial year.  This created a smaller cohort flowing through to 2019.  Those tiny, bright-eyed five year olds are now all grown up after completing thirteen years of education.

The year after the Class of 2019 commenced Prep, the first National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) tests were conducted for all Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 students.  Over one million students across Australia sat for NAPLAN tests in that first year of assessment.  The class of 2019 has endured NAPLAN testing for their entire schooling.

This means that the Class of 2019 have been at school longer, and under more academic scrutiny, than any other graduating class before them.

The information superhighway has been roaring at full throttle while they’ve been learning how to navigate a world with no filter.  In the year they started school, the first iPhone was launched.  The Class of 2019 have grown up with access to information and connectivity that no other generation could ever imagine.
While politics may not have been on their immediate radar, it would have been hard for them to miss the chaos that saw seven Prime Ministers come and go during their school years: Howard, Rudd, Gillard, Rudd, Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison.   Their school years have coincided with a time of unprecedented political turmoil in Australia.  For comparison, the graduating class of 2007 had seen only one Prime Minister throughout their entire education.

The Class of 2019 are Generation Z.  They are known for being independent, self-confident and less reliant on their parents.  Although it is claimed their attention span is just eight seconds, they have a well-developed filter and can multi-task like no generation before.  In their lives, so far, they’ve seen much more than any other generation through the wonders of social media and YouTube.

As they leave their school for the last time, the Class of 2019 has more trailblazing in front of them.  Some may go on to university or TAFE to increase their skills.  At least there will be less competition for places.  Others will enter the workforce immediately.  Either way, they are all much more likely than past generations to have many careers in their working life.   Their ease with technology and information harnessing will no doubt be an enormous asset in whatever path they choose in life.  Some of their jobs have not even been dreamed of yet. 

I congratulate every Class of 2019 graduate and I look forward to watching them become the future leaders of this nation.  They are a tough bunch and we certainly need them.