At ASC, our focus is on doing all we can to ensure our students are future-enabled…but what exactly does that mean, particularly in our VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world?
“The UK offices of Ernst and Young have announced they will stop requiring degrees, but instead will offer online testing and search out talented individuals regardless of background.”*
And Australia’s Mitchell Institute reports that, in 2017, 60% of our universities’ undergraduate offers were made on a basis other than the student’s ATAR.**
There is no doubt that we are seeing a strong trend towards alternative pathways and options in education and in careers or futures. It is essential, therefore, that schools are on the front foot in relation to this, preparing our students to meet other entrance pathways and criteria, and forging for our students strong partnerships with tertiary providers and with business, industry and community.
It used to be thought by some that achieving a high ATAR guaranteed a bright and secure future and, while we remain committed at ASC to ensuring those of our students seeking an ATAR are supported to achieve the very highest score of which they are capable, we also know that tertiary providers and employers are increasingly looking at other criteria in their selection processes.
It is All Saints’ responsibility, therefore, to continue to focus on optimising ATARs, while also forging new pathways and partnerships with tertiary providers and business, industry and community.… while also developing within our students the vitally-important 21st century learning skills and those “soft” skills that are now being seen across all sectors of our community as just so important.
The Mitchell Institute - of which All Saints’ academic-in-residence, Prof. Yong Zhao, is a member - recently published a paper, “Crunching the number: exploring the use and usefulness of the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR)”. The Institute reports that, in all their discussions regarding the ATAR, one issue continues to arise: the belief that the ATAR is a barrier to reforms that are seeking to reshape the education system to ensure that it is best placed to meet and address the future.
The Institute proposes that we develop other ways of recognising the broad range of accomplishments our students gather over their years at schooling. This could be via their commitment to community before self (eg taking on a leadership role and representing the College at various competitions), via their cocurricular activities (eg participating in / leading a musical ensemble, running a workshop on a topic about which they are passionate or building an electric car in Propeller Enterprises), via their involvement with our service partners (eg supporting the “slum children” in New Delhi, working with our Nulsen residents with complex disabilities) and so on.
The Institute also suggests that, instead of the current system where there is an incentive for students to “play the system”, studying subjects for which they may have no passion but which might optimise their ATAR, university selections could be made on the basis of individual subject scores (particularly those subjects that relate directly to the student’s intended course of study), and that we develop an “opt-in” approach (rather than the current “opt-out” approach) to ATAR, where only those students who are seeking admission into a competitive entry course opt-in to ATAR.
Whatever the future of ATAR is nationally, and its future is certainly the focus of much attention across Australia at the moment, one thing is clear: while committed to optimising students’ ATARs, an education at ASC is so much more than an ATAR.
And so we continue to commit to building meaningful relationships and pathways with tertiary providers and with business and with industry and with community, and we continue to offer a rich and diverse program of opportunities beyond the classroom where our students are also learning so many skills for life and, through our various roles and through our Beyond Boundaries Institute, we continue to engage in and contribute to this national review of how best we measure and facilitate success for our young people.
* “College is Over”, Pulse, 3 January 2017
**”Crunching the number: exploring the use and usefulness of the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR)”, Mitchell Paper, March 2018