I recently spoke with Colin Klupiec from Learn Fast in my capacity as the newly appointed Principal Leader at St Luke’s, Marsden Park. Colin’s professionalism, deep knowledge of Australian education and strong desire for a ‘new paradigm for learning’, meant that I enjoyed our time discussing the future of education in Australia within the one local context of St Luke’s.
St Luke’s is a (soon to be established) ‘next generation’ learning community. As part of the conversation Colin and I discussed ways to blur the finish line of schooling. Currently, that finish line is when the vast majority of young people conclude their formal education at the end of Year 12, around mid-December each year. In NSW, the checkered flag waves frantically for 24 hours with the release of HSC results followed by the release of the ATAR* the next day.
ATARs have increasingly become less meaningful as expressed in a recent article ‘Not in our national interest’: Universities slammed over ATAR leniency’ by Eryk Bagshaw. Universities have compromised tertiary entry standards in pursuit of growing enrolments. Increasing ATAR offer rates below 50 has been one of many approaches.
Whilst the number of university degrees is increasing, the value of a university degree is in decline. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, of bachelor degree graduates who were available for full-time employment in 2000, 83.6 per cent were in full-time employment within four months of completing their degrees in 1999. Since then, the trend has been….
- in 2005, 80.9 per cent were in full-time employment within four months of completing their degrees.
- in 2010, 76.2 per cent were in full-time employment within four months of completing their degrees.
- In 2015, 68.8 per cent were in full-time employment within four months of completing their degrees.
It may well be that there are now more university degrees for less jobs or it may be that employers are looking further afield than the traditional degrees as evidenced by FYA’s most recent report. Employers in Australia are increasingly advertising for people who exhibit the ‘New Basics’ of Digital Literacy, Critical Thinking, Creativity and Problem Solving.
Reading between the lines of the report, and with reference to Jim Bright’s article below, it appears employers may be unsure of how HSC results or an ATAR number assists an employer to ascertain a prospective employee’s capability in these areas.
In the interests of best preparing our students for the future which awaits them, it is now time to look at more flexible post school pathways other than just the HSC and ATARs. These pathways would see students:
- make links with industry by showing their work through their online presence, one which connects with experts across the world; OR,
- create their own start up business in Year 8, 9 or 10 (possibly after many failed attempts) by asking them the question, “What problem do you want to solve?”; OR,
- assisted by their wider learning community (not just school) to develop the skills for the surprising jobs of today.
I welcome your thoughts.
* The ATAR is The Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) is the primary criterion for entry into most undergraduate-entry university programs in Australia. It was gradually introduced during 2009 and 2010 to replace the Universities Admission Index, Equivalent National Tertiary Entrance Rank and Tertiary Entrance Rank.