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Character Education

Posted by Mr David Elsing (Head of Secondary) | Found in: Leadership Blog

Our Year 12's are currently in the middle of their final ATAR exams.

From my perspective these students are very well prepared and have ‘peaked’ just at the right time with incredible focus and commitment. We wish our ATAR students all the very best with their results. Additionally, for our students taking a VET pathway we look forward to hearing news about your new jobs, traineeships, and apprenticeships in the coming weeks and months. It can be an overwhelming time with no more daily structure, so I encourage you to quickly establish a routine and find some work to do, even if it is voluntary in order to keep motivated and establish good habits.

Recently in educational leadership circles some discussion has been had around the future of ATAR exams. Some are arguing that ATAR exams are no longer fit for purpose. Others see the ATAR exams as only for a small few, despite taking up a considerable focus of a school’s energies and focus. This begs the question – If not for ATAR then why do schools exist? If not to give students a pathway into university & trades, then what are schools for?

From my perspective, a school’s primary aim is the development of student character. Our call is more than just university entry or job skills, although we believe we are doing these things well. We have as our basis a strong belief that student character is the main aim of our College. We trust in God to be at work in the lives of our students, despite and sometimes because of hardships and setbacks they face. We believe in people to be able to grow and change and this is most evident in the maturation process that occurs between Year 7 to 12.

This call to character reminds me about the fable of the two bowls of soup. It goes like this: In hell there is a delicious bowl of soup ready to be eaten, everyone is gathered around a wooden table with a large beautiful bowl of pumpkin soup, the bowl is ready with several long metal ladles for serving. The problem is the ladles are too long and they cannot be easily lifted to the mouth to drink the soup. What results is spilled hot soup, empty stomachs, and very hungry people. Whereas, in heaven there exists the same bowl of soup with the same ladles, except here in heaven, each person uses the ladle to carefully take the soup and lead it to the mouth of the person next to them. The ladles are long enough to reach easily to the neighbour’s mouth and so all are filled and satisfied by the mutual care around the table.

Our students leave us with more than an ATAR ranking or an apprenticeship, I know this because I know our Year 12s - our students leave with the perspective of heaven – helping their neighbour to be well fed and satisfied. They can do this because our College values character. In this hope, I call upon our current Year 11 and 10 students to take their place in the life of the College as new student leaders.

David Elsing