HSC RESULTS

I am delighted to write to you to inform you of the successes of our Year 12 boys in the HSC. Over the past few days we have had an opportunity to analyse their performances and are pleased to say they have acquitted themselves very well indeed and in line with expectations. Once again I wish to thank the boys for their hard work and perseverance, the staff team members from ELC-12 for their expertise and leadership and of course our parents who have been such a wonderful support.

The results are reported by the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) in Bands.  A Band 6 result represents a NESA HSC mark between 90-100, a Band 5 between 80-89 and so on.  Extension subjects are reported as E4 for 45-50, E3 for 40-44.  Band 6 and E4 listings are Distinction listings. This year the School HSC candidature of 198 students received 343 Distinctions.  It also received 529 Band 5 listings.  In the listing in the Sydney Morning Herald these results ranked the School 34th overall, the third highest ranked non-selective boys’ school. Differences in enrolment profiles with respect to selectivity make straight comparisons problematic but I am confident that the School delivers great outcomes for all students.

In English there were 50 Distinction listings and 99 Distinctions for Mathematics.  The combined English Advanced and Extension results placed Shore equal 16th in the State. In General Mathematics 2 the School was ranked equal 29th and in the calculus based courses equal 32nd.  This latter ranking is not reliable as a number of schools sit their Year 11 Extension 2 candidates for the 2 Unit Mathematics paper. We do not as it inflates the performance figures. Although all courses with five or more candidates delivered means well above those of the State, a number of subjects at Shore had their mean more than a Standard Deviation above that of the State.  These were Business Studies, Engineering Studies, Industrial Technology (Timber Products and Furniture), Music Course 1 and Music Course 2. 

NESA releases a list of “All Rounders”:  this group is constituted of students who receive Distinction listings in ten or more of their units of study.  This year there were sixteen All Rounders who studied at Shore: A J Brammall; J E Cope; O D Fielke; T J Hoggett; W J Jefferies; B H Jefferson; A B Ma; N R J McGarry; L W Muir; E C H Noh; R G Richardson; S B Robinson; M D Sinclair; C Wang; J Wang; and H H R Waugh.

Several students achieved high level placings in the State:  C Wang was 1st in English (Advanced) as well as 2nd in Latin Extension; S C S Luk was 1st in Mathematics Extension 2; A B Ma was 5th in Latin Extension; L W Muir was 14th in English (Advanced); N R J McGarry was 15th in English (Advanced); J Wang was 3rd in Extension 1 Mathematics; and T J Hoggett 16th in Business Studies.

A M Humphris had his Visual Arts major work selected for ArtExpress;  O V Dixon had his Design and Technology major work selected for Shape;  J D Ashtari’s costume design was selected for OnStage and A J Beard’s individual project was selected for OnStage.

The ATAR ranking is calculated separately by the University Admission Centre (UAC) and we rely to a large extent on information provided to us by the boys.  We congratulate L W Muir and C Wang both of whom achieved the maximum ATAR of 99.95 placing them equal first in our cohort.  By our records the median ATAR will be 89.75, an outstanding result. We will publish further information on the results in the first Shore Weekly Record in 2017.

STRATEGIC PRIORITIES FOR COUNCIL AND SENIOR EXECUTIVE STAFF

School Council wants to understand the experience of students, parents and staff across the School and so, during Semester 2, commissioned a survey. Thanks to all those who participated. The results shaped a weekend Retreat attended by Council and Senior Executive Staff as they considered current and future priorities (or ‘critical success factors’ in our Strategic Aims and Objectives).

The survey delivered both quantitative metrics and qualitative responses through free comments.

WHAT DID THE SURVEY TELL US?

1. Why we like Shore

Some key findings of the survey of parents confirmed that for the majority of our parents Shore’s academic standards and moral values were their two highest motivators for selection of the School. After those, family tradition, Christian ethos and disciplinary tone were also strong motivators. The comments from parents emphasised the value that our community places on an all-round education and what is regarded as a balanced approach. One of the comments made the valid point that probably all of the factors play a role in parental choice. It was generally agreed that the School articulates its ethos clearly and that the character formation priority of the School was supported strongly by parents. The house system was also supported very strongly.

2. Areas for Improvement

The Rugby Programme

Inevitably, although statistically strongly negative comments were by far the minority, some recurring comments in the survey included concern or dissatisfaction with some aspects of the games programme, particularly Rugby, subject choices and concerns about the performance of middle students. The school did commission a review of Rugby by Mr Rob Clarke and will be implementing key recommendations. These included having a master in charge who has no other leadership responsibilities, along with the implementation of a partnership with the coaching resources developed by Mr Rod Kafer and the engagement of Mr Rod Macqueen as a coaching mentor.

Subject Choices and the 'average student'

Two themes which emerged from parent responses in the survey were the range of subject choices offered and the academic performance of the ‘average student’.

On the matter of subject choices, the School has expanded the number of Stage 5 (Years 9 and 10) electives in the past 2 years. However, the frequent mention of languages and the introduction of Mandarin as a Stage 5 elective has not been backed by the level of student choice with numbers in the Year 9 class likely to be single digit. This is a phenomenon right across the Australian education scene and I suspect reflects the lack of mandated subject choice in this area. In addition, the fact that there are no significant tertiary education entrance weightings for foreign language may significantly influence subject choice at the secondary level. On the other hand the introduction of Engineering Studies as a Stage 5 Elective has been well supported.

Shore is perceived to be doing much to support students with additional challenges as well as offering great opportunities for very talented students— but what about the ‘academic middle’? Our academic data manager, Mr Chris Pitt, submitted to the School Council the longitudinal information for the past 20 years on performance at Year 7 measured against exit performance at HSC. Although quite clearly the subjects studied do not map one-to-one, the ‘value added’ can be reasonably approximated by overarching levels of performance across the whole Australian cohort. Interestingly, this data shows that the biggest gains at Shore have been consistently made in the middle ranks of students. Although each cohort differs to some extent with its capacity for performance, this pattern is seen every year.

Communication

We need to communicate better. The survey indicated, both explicitly and implicitly, that although the School sends out lots of messages, this information does not always register or connect with its intended audience. For example, parents indicated a belief that the School was doing good things in staff development, student character development/service activities and engagement as an educational leader. But when asked to specifically identify such activities, the majority of parents could not do so. Quite clearly the School needs to do a better job of telling its story to its community. To this end, we have engaged a Communications Manager to enable us to do this more effectively.

Communication is always a ‘two way street’ and so the School will continue to develop better channels of communication with all its stakeholders. Recent improvements in Lampada and the School’s website are a beginning.

3. Technology Usage Patterns

Perceptions of student patterns and habits of technology use varied greatly. The survey was split 50:50 around the statement: I feel that my child is able to regulate his use of technology. This is an area of mixed blessing and the parental response clearly indicates a degree of uncertainty about how to manage this aspect of the young person’s life. The School has been conservative in its application of technology in day to day school life, which is an approach now justified by growing concern about the impact of technology on student well-being and learning outcomes.

4. Significant Themes from the Boys' Surveys

Although the survey canvassed opinion across a great breadth of issues, the following themes were noted:

Satisfaction

A clear majority of boys (89%) identified that they enjoyed coming to Shore and that they had a clear understanding of the School’s expectations and rules. There were very positive comments about the experience at School in terms of quality of teaching and opportunities offered. Some 79% of boys rated the teaching at Shore either very effective or extremely effective, with negative ratings on this less than 2.5%. A very high proportion, 92%, of senior boys identified that they have access to extra support.

Well-being

The well-being questions indicated that the majority of students were coping with the pressures of school. It was interesting to see the difference between how much sleep their parents thought they were getting and how much sleep that students identified. In general, the parent body estimated the level of their sons’ sleep at a higher level than the boys did. Most boys identified good relationships with their teachers and peers, but they did identify that finding time for their own relaxation and interests was difficult during term.

Selection of Student Leaders

Quite a number of boys were critical of the selection of student leaders, which was surprising given that most boys appointed to leadership roles have been given a significant endorsement by vote of their Year 11 peers, or in the case of house captains by the boys in their house. The Prefect selection processes also include Housemaster and other significant staff nominations and a discussion by a committee chaired by the Deputy Headmaster.

Co-curricular Activities and Games

As with the parent body a number of the comments from students complained about the Rugby programme, but there were many endorsements of the range of activities available with more than 80% of students endorsing the range of both sports and other co-curricular activities. The compulsory nature of Cadets raised differing views, including boys who believed that it should remain a compulsory experience even though they personally had not enjoyed it. Benefits identified included discipline and leadership development.

PRIORITIES

When the Council reviewed the surveys, there was a general consensus that the priorities of the Strategic Plan (https://www.shore.nsw.edu.au/about/strategic-aims-and-objectives/strategic-aims-and-objectives-2018) were the correct ones for continued success across all areas of endeavour. Continued vigilance and ongoing review will always be required.

Council also had an interesting discussion about making clear the tight link between the Christian faith basis of the School, as reflected in its charter and governance, and the direction and quality of the School. This is seen as a Communication issue for the Council and senior leadership. The nature of the School in its pastoral, cultural and intellectual life is deeply connected to the view of the world which flows from Christian faith and theology. The entire liberal academic tradition, democracy and the rule of law are based in the Christian legacy of Western society. Current cultural trends place under threat these values as well as an unfettered search for truth or indeed the unique worth of the human individual. Bringing our faith basis more to the fore in explaining the thinking and philosophy behind the decisions of the School leadership will be a priority over the next few years.

As mentioned at Speech Day, we expect that preliminary site works on the building project, which will provide much needed teaching space as well as a significant boost to our sporting and PDHPE programmes, will begin in the second part of January.  We will communicate more information on this early in Term 1 2018.

I wish you a wonderful Christmas with your loved ones and look forward to an exciting year ahead.

Dr Timothy Wright

Communication from the HM

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