Academic Focus: Celebrating 2020 and Preparing for 2021

May I offer a warm and enthusiastic welcome to the new year. I trust you have enjoyed a marvellous time of rest and rejuvenation, and our boys are now ready to step, deliberately and with clear purpose, into their learning.

I’d like to begin with congratulations to the 2020 Year 12 cohort. The results achieved by this group of young men are outstanding, reflecting the consistently robust performances of recent years. In 2020, 115 students presented for the Higher School Certificate, while 97 candidates completed the IB Diploma programme. For the first time, Trinity achieved a median ATAR of 90.0; that is, 50% of the combined cohort scored 90.0 or greater. This is well above the NSW median (70.15) and the median for boys across the state (68.70). Twenty-nine students achieved the highly meritorious 99.0 or greater, and five students attained the highest possible ATAR of 99.95. Two HSC candidates were named on one of the state’s markers of distinction, the All Round Achievement list, while 44 IB Diploma students have been awarded a Certificate of Distinction for a score of 40 or greater (equating to an ATAR of 98.05). And there are, of course, many personal journeys of extraordinary commitment and growth from Year 10 to the final point of secondary achievement. My analysis of these results convinces me that the most reliable predictors of academic success are the kinds of deliberate engagement behaviours about which we provide feedback on semester reports: behaviours that indicate a student’s capacity for self-management, his skills in task management, his  willingness to bring a learning focus to academic endeavour, and the disposition to embrace rather than avoid challenge.  It is on a range of measures that the 2020 cohort are congratulated for their fine achievements, and their success – both individual and collective – serves as fine aspiration for students now finding it is their turn to step into the opportunities of Years 11 and 12.

Further information about the School’s results in the HSC and the IB Diploma are available at these links. I particularly commend the student profiles included in these publications: they provide wonderful access to the thinking, attitudes, habits and behaviours of some of our most successful students, who began their senior school journeys from some very different points!

While we welcome Year 7 to the beginning of a new learning chapter, most of us are in fact well into the 2021 academic year. The return to school following a long break nevertheless offers an important opportunity to reflect, review and renew our approach to learning and the work of learning. Do you have an approach to study and are you confident it is effective? Do you have a clear understanding of your personal areas of strength as well as the areas that would benefit from greater attention and time? Do you know what you want to achieve over the course of this year, and the behaviours you will need to step into so that you are successful in the things that are most important to you? Have you shared your aspirations for 2021 with someone who can assist you to be accountable and committed? There is no point at which it is too late to undertake this kind of reflection and renewal – but, the earlier you do it and commit to deliberate engagement, the more positive results you will see.

I wish every success to our most recent graduates, confident they achieved not only their academic potential but have grown in wisdom, character and compassion, preparing them to pursue new paths. To our current boys, we commend their example. Academic success is built upon a willingness to embrace new challenges, to pursue new ideas, to learn with and from others. It is about asking questions and finding answers. Neil Postman, one of the 20th century’s foremost educators, said this:

“Everything we know has its origins in questions … questions,

we might say, are the principal intellectual instruments available

to human beings.”

As students return this week from a time of rest and refreshment, I encourage them to be bold in the questions they ask, ambitious in the answers they seek, and resilient in the challenges they will meet along the way. And, if you have any questions to which the Curriculum Office may help you find answers, you are warmly invited to contact us on 9581 – 6135.

Deborah Williams | Academic Dean

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