From the Principal

Beyond the Higher School Certificate. The results that matter.

As the excitement of the 2021 HSC results and 2022 ATAR offers subside, it might be time to consider which results really matter when we are dealing with students and their successful progression through life.

It has been interesting to follow the print media over the past week where journalists have pondered, in print, the value of school fees and school choice in HSC outcomes.

How do you put a value on education and learning?
Low-fee schools beat expensive counterparts”,
Sydney Morning Herald, January 22-23, 2022

In response to the article a reader made the following observation: “The question that should perhaps be asked instead is what schools – both private and public – excel at in better preparing students for the transition from formalised schooling to the adult world beyond.”

While St Columba is rightly pleased and proud of the great results our students achieve each year, this is not our only focus or way of assessing our effectiveness as educators.

The future is here. Now. There’s no one-future-fits-all.

St Columba educators constantly look beyond the annual HSC horizon and plan and review their teaching practices to ensure that our students have the skills and knowledge that will support their ongoing success.

After considerable research, St Columba determined that the approaches to education that worked over the last century have limited value to students who will graduate in the 21st century. That is why a focus on foundational literacy and numeracy and an approach called Deep Learning has become the foundation of our teaching and learning model.

Deep learning knowledge, abilities and competencies are important for living, working and being a good citizen in a 21st-century world. Deep learning promotes the qualities children need for success by building complex understanding and meaning rather than focusing on the learning of superficial knowledge that can today be gleaned through search engines. Deep learning instruction provides students with the advanced skills necessary to deal with a world in which good jobs are becoming more cognitively demanding. It prepares them to be curious, continuous, independent learners as well as thoughtful, productive, active citizens in a democratic society.”

We believe that this will not only lead to continued excellent academic results, but will also offer our students access to the skills and attitudes that are required for success in a tertiary education and future employment.

“Our moral responsibility is not to stop the future, but to shape it — to channel our destiny in humane directions and to ease the trauma of transition.”― Alvin Toffler

We have always been proud of the progress our students have made after graduating from St Columba and believe that the way we teach has played a role in this, rather than being totally focused on one set of examinations and one set of results in Year 12. We track our students’ progress after leaving our school and are encouraged by their ongoing success and believe that the approach we are taking will maintain their potential for achievement in the “real world.”

From an educational policy perspective, the strongest thrust needs to be preventative: improving young people’s foundation skills for lifelong learning, and providing learning environments that are attractive and relevant to the great majority of the young. Experience in Australia and elsewhere shows that chances for successful intervention are higher while young people are still in school. Improving the literacy and numeracy skills of young people, and offering a range of pathways suited to differing interests and needs at the end of compulsory education encourage a higher proportion of young people to remain in education and training.”Patterns of success and failure in the transition from school to work in Australia. Stephen Lamb, Phillip McKenzie, ACER.

In a world where schools are often given responsibility for dealing with issues that have a high societal value, focusing on the skills that will sustain success, creating a higher level of resilience, and the ability to deal effectively with unexpected challenges and having a future focus will be the keys to ongoing success.

“Interesting to find out how much time will be allocated for teaching and learning in schools with the massive task of controlling, administering and applying RAT tests twice a week for all students and teachers, and monitoring symptoms.“ SMH January, 24, 2022.

Our definition of academic success goes beyond marks and includes our focus on working with families to develop our young people into successful and socially responsible adults.

Great marks are one thing, but we recognise that our students will have a long life beyond school and part of our educational responsibility is to offer more than a pat on the back for a good HSC result but also to offer the skills and knowledge for a successful life.

Life success after school is probably the result that really matters.

Terry Muldoon

Want to share your thoughts on this story, or do you have something you’d like to add? Email me at

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