Round Square and ATAR – what’s the connection?

Round Square and its IDEALS (Internationalism, Democracy, Environment, Adventure, Leadership and Service) are a theme that runs through our College. Some may not always realise that what they are involved in, their learning and various activities, are Round Square related but in many cases they are.

There are the more obvious events, such as conferences and exchanges, but there are so many more elements of our programs where the IDEALS are present and so provide connections through our curriculum, both across subject areas and between year levels. Sitting behind the IDEALS are the Discoveries; a range of 12 attributes and attitudes that empower students to get the most from their learning experiences. They are: communication; responsibility; diversity; problem-solving; sustainability; inventiveness; inquisitiveness; courage; self-awareness; compassion; teamwork; tenacity.

The ATAR, Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank, is a scale from 0.05 to 99.95 that ranks every Year 12 student in Australia, on their academic performance at the end of every year. 80% of Year 12 students who enter university, do so using their ATAR. This ranking says nothing about a person’s character, their values or their personal attributes. At best, ATAR reflects an element of a person’s determination, beyond their intellectual ability.

So what is the connection between Round Square and the ATAR? In short, at the moment, nothing. However, that will all change in the years to come.

Universities, like workplaces, want to make sure that they are accepting people into their community who will fit into their culture and add to their environment. Currently, when applying for scholarships to university, students need to provide examples of their character; such as when they have displayed leadership, committed to serving others, displayed compassion, exhibited teamwork, shown responsibility and tenacity. Some universities are now recognising that ATAR alone does not provide a good enough guide to whether a future student will achieve success in their course and attain their university degree. They are starting to look beyond ATAR alone and thinking outside the square as to how they might be able to gain an appreciation of the whole person and not simply a person’s intellectual ability.

The 12 Discoveries are important for all of our students because they are the human elements that will hold them in good stead throughout their lives. I predict though, that in the years ahead the Discoveries are going to grow in importance as students use evidence of their development and mastery of them to assist in entry to universities and in gaining employment.

Whilst the ATAR might seem almost irrelevant to our youngest students, they are actually developing the attributes and attitudes right now, that they will use to couple with their academic achievement to help them with the next stage in their lives beyond the College gates.

So, what is the connection between Round Square and the ATAR? Nothing at the moment, but there will be a direct link in years to come. Importantly, our students are perfectly placed to take advantage of the learning and opportunities they experience under the Round Square banner, to confidently take the next step in their lives. We are preparing them for their future.

Andy Müller