‘Best possible outcome’: students ready to take on the world

4 Jan 2019

‘Best possible outcome’: students ready to take on the world

After watching his friends get their HSC and ATARs last month, Trinity Grammar student Alexander Maloof had to suffer through three more painful weeks before he found out his own results. They were worth the wait.

Alexander achieved the highest possible mark – 45 out of 45 – in his International Baccalaureate Diploma, which equated to an ATAR of 99.95 and put the 17-year-old among the highest-achieving students in the world.

But he wasn’t the only one. Seven of his schoolmates also achieved the same mark, giving Trinity one of the best IB results in the state’s history. “I was just as happy to find out that there were so many of us,” Alexander said.

“We went though the whole program together, and to see we came out at the end of that with the results we worked hard for, it’s so nice to see.”

More than 2700 Australian students on Thursday received the results of their IB Diploma, an alternative to the HSC that is only available to students in NSW if they study at one of the 18 independent schools.

About 180,000 students undertake the diploma in more than 150 countries, and fewer than 0.15 per cent of the students who complete most of their subjects achieve a score of 45.

Trinity’s eight students with top scores equals the state record, set by MLC School in 2014. Another five Trinity boys scored 44, which equates to an ATAR of 99.85.

One of the school’s high-scoring students is applying for a scholarship at Cambridge, another is hoping to study medical engineering at Stanford, and another has been offered an athletic scholarship to Harvard.

Almost half of Trinity Grammar’s 228 students sat the IB exams rather than the HSC, more than any other school in NSW. Headmaster Timothy Bowden said the credential was becoming increasingly popular among his students.

“A lot of our very able boys, particularly those who want to study overseas, see the IB as a good way to facilitate that path,” he said.

While the HSC is highly regarded internationally, “the IB is a whole different level,” said Mr Bowden. “It’s well known and recognised around the world.”

Queenwood student Wendy Lin also had a perfect score of 45. She chose to study the IB over the HSC because it offered a more well-rounded education; students must study a humanities, an arts and a science subject, on top of English and maths.

“It was the best possible outcome, because I like to aim high, but it was definitely a surprise,” Wendy said. “It seems like a miracle, although it isn’t because of all the hard work.” She is hoping to study architecture.

At Ravenswood, 10 girls scored 40 (an ATAR of 98) or above, and at Redlands, 17 students achieved a mark of 40 or higher. At St Andrew’s Cathedral College, six students achieved 40 or above.

St Andrew’s headmaster John Collier said many IB schools were finding that most of their students achieved ATARs in the 90s. “Where a third to half, or more, of a school’s Year 12 cohort has studied the IB instead of the HSC, it makes nonsense of the HSC band 6 league tables as a proxy of educational quality in those schools,” he said.

“What a travesty that, unlike in Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and the ACT, government school students in NSW have no access to the IB.”

There have been myriad calls over many years for NSW public schools to offer the IB Diploma. The Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation (CESE) last year looked into how it would work in the state system.

However, a spokesman said any action as a result of the review had been put on hold pending the outcome of the NSW Curriculum Review, which is underway and expected to be finished by the end of this year.

Jordan Baker, The Sydney Morning Herald, January 3, 2019