Defining Success Beyond Grades

By Mr Scott Corbett, Acting Assistant Principal Students

As we prepare for the final week of classes for our Year 11 and 12 students and look to celebrate all of the wonderful accomplishments each of the students have made, I feel it is important to acknowledge how we define success. Students are well trained to view success at school through the lens of report cards and grades. Our expectations are that each student will achieve their best post-schooling outcomes.

We think it is imperative to repeat the message that “You are not your ATAR”. For our Class of 2023, I repeat the message – you are not your ATAR. You are full of diverse achievements, navigating a complex time as a young person, learning a wonderful array of things. Regardless of the package you have chosen, the results you achieve will not define you. They may open up options for you and assist in making the tough decision of what to do next, but they do not take anything off the table.

The Mitchell Institute[1] (based at Victoria University) shares some data around university entrance, highlighting that nearly 75 per cent of people entering undergraduate degrees did so without using an ATAR. Another 11 per cent entered based on secondary education without an ATAR (including entry via portfolios, auditions and interviews), 26 per cent entered through results from other higher education courses, 12 per cent through VET qualifications, and four per cent as mature-age students. The point to take away from this data is that there are many different ways to get into tertiary studies.

The Centre for Independent Studies[2], in a recent article supporting the place of the ATAR in Australian schools (a rather differing viewpoint from the Mitchell Institute), shares that 60 per cent of school leavers who accepted a place at a university used their ATAR to achieve their offer. The point to take away from this data is that 40 per cent of school leavers who accepted a place at university did so through pathways other than the ATAR.

While we are consistently proud of the academic achievements our students make at Radford and the tertiary learning opportunities that come with this, what we are most proud of is the great humans that they become. Guided by our College values of Truth, Compassion, and Wisdom, we celebrate our graduating class for their uniqueness, the plethora of skills, talents, and passions they have fostered, and the potential they now have to be agents of change in the world around us. Radford sits as one cog in a large system of communities that make up Canberra. Our capacity as an organisation to impact this system for the better is reflected in the actions and achievements of our graduates. As we celebrate our Class of 2023 over the next few weeks, I look forward with a great sense of optimism that this group of wonderful humans will make a profound positive impact on the world around them.

With this in mind, I think it prudent to say that I am extremely grateful to all of our staff who have worked with members of the Class of 2023 throughout their time at Radford. For all of the lessons you taught, the conversations you had, the jokes, the camps, the excursions, the snippets of advice dropped into a quick conversation, the sacrifice, the kindness and the passion – thank you. As we celebrate the students, we are also practising gratitude for our staff and all that they have done to guide our Year 12s to where they are today.