Top Marks in Life



So, how did you go in the HSC? This barbeque stopper just won’t go away: just ask anyone who graduated in 2019 (or ever). This one’s for the nosy neighbours and competitive relatives who just can’t help asking!

Better to question recent graduates on how they’re spending their time now if you’re keen to take an interest in their lives. There’s nothing wrong with a great HSC result, but it’s not the be all and end all. There are so many other ways to find your feet after school, and many different pathways to tread too.

Did you know that 74% of students enrol in university without using an ATAR? There are also many more students getting into university through early entry programs. Why do we persist in reducing everything our students have got out of school to a single number? And what does that number actually represent?

I have a bright young man on my own staff who took up a traineeship with us as an alternative to completing his HSC. These days, he’s at uni with the kids he went to school with. No ATAR and absolutely aceing it! There are many different ways to be a high achiever, and much more to life too.

Yet wouldn’t it be great to be able to show what school can do for students with more style and subtlety? Success at school is about human stories not high scores. Let’s celebrate the students who had a tough start but finished well, who are carers for family members, who work part-time to help out at home, who make school (and the world) a better place just by being them.

So members of the Class of 2019 or indeed 2020, next time someone pops the ATAR question, just let them know you’re happy with your results. Or you could always steer away to a safer topic like property prices, politics or religion...

Greg Whitby is the executive director of schools for the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta. Follow him on Twitter @gregwhitby
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