Many ways to be a high achiever

By Greg Whitby, 15 January 2020
Greg Whitby AM is Executive Director of Schools, Diocese of Parramatta.


Weekly Column from the Executive Director of Schools, Diocese of Parramatta

So, how did you go in the HSC? This barbecue 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. It’s better to question recent graduates on how they’re spending their time now if you’re keen to take an interest in their lives.

While the high achieving students should be celebrated for their efforts, it’s important for those who did not get the marks they were hoping for to remember that a great HSC result is 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. Did you know that 74 per cent of students enrol in university without using an ATAR? There are also many more students who are 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 is studying at university with the kids he went to school with. No ATAR and he is absolutely aceing it. There are many different ways to be a high achiever, and much more to life too.

Success at school is about the human stories, not just the 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 their school (and the world) a better place just by being themselves.

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 such as property prices, politics or religion.

Greg Whitby AM
Executive Director of Schools – Diocese of Parramatta


Greg Whitby is the Executive Director of Schools - Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta
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