HSC 2018: School support the secret to student success

Marist Eastwood students Gregory Frelingos, Harry Peters, Rohan Bhatia and Andrew Cantrill

Some of the highest achievers across Sydney Catholic Schools shared their relief and excitement with About Catholic Schools after receiving their ATARs on Friday.

Close-knit year group communities, understanding teachers and excellent pastoral care were all cited as reasons for their success, with some achieving tertiary admissions rankings as high as 99.9.

Andrew Cantrill, who attended Marist College Eastwood, not only scooped the second highest possible ATAR, but came second in the state in Mathematics Extension 1 and eighth in the state in Mathematics Extension 2.

He also topped the Sydney archdiocese in four subjects – Maths Extension 1 and 2, Economic and Physics, and was one of four Marist students to be named on the HSC All Round Achievers list.

It’s great to see the boys, as a collective effort, do really well

– Rohan Bhatia

“I’m pretty happy with my results,” he said.

“I’m still tossing up between engineering and actuarial sciences to study next year – I really want to continue my mathematics because that’s what I’m passionate about, it’s my favourite subject.”

Classmate and student leader of academic life Rohan Bhatia, who earned an ATAR of 99.5, said this year’s Marist cohort really pulled together to ensure all boys could do their very best.

Friends held their own study groups, boys shared notes online and leaders sent out motivational videos ahead of exams to ensure the cohort stayed focused.

“Last year we came 172nd and this year we’re at 108, so we really pushed ahead. And it’s great to see the boys, as a collective effort, do really well,” he said.

Waverley girls best in the system

St Clare’s students at their graduation Mass

St Clare’s Catholic College Waverley also took a big leap forward in this year’s HSC rankings, jumping 90 places to rank 77th in NSW in 2018, the top spot for a systemic Catholic school in the Sydney archdiocese.

Two students at the school made this year’s All Round Achievers list, and one was nominated for Art Express. But results were strong across the class of 2018, with St Clare’s beating the state average in 100% of attempted HSC courses.

A number of the school’s high achievers said their results were even better than expected, including College Captain Cate Noack who achieved an ATAR of 94.8.

“The support of the teachers and the warm environment at school helped us to get better marks than we thought possible,” she said.

Teachers say individual focus key

Educators across Sydney Catholic schools said this nurturing environment for students was deliberately cultivated – largely by ensuring that every student had both the learning and pastoral support they needed to do achieve to their potential.

If a boy was struggling in one subject and needed help, we had teachers intervene

– Darren Barker

Principal Paula Bounds of Bethlehem Catholic College Ashfield cited the example of high-achiever Jasmine Espejo, who achieved an ATAR of 99. Jasmine was born in the Philippines, and arrived in Australia halfway through Year 7.

“We quickly recognised Jasmine’s gift for Mathematics and she and another student undertook an accelerated pathway.”

“Both students sat their HSC 2 Unit Mathematics examination in 2016 when they were in Year 10, both achieved Band 6s but Jasmine achieved a mark of 99 and was ranked 16th in the state.”

Marist Eastwood students at their ATAR celebration brunch

Darren Barker, Head of Teaching and Learning at Marist College Eastwood, said this kind of individual attention and planning had helped lift results across this year’s class at Marist.

He worked closely with Year 12 Co-ordinator Daniel Fallico in 2018 to ensure each boy received the individual support he needed to thrive.

“There were a number of points during the last two years where we reviewed boys results and changed patterns of study or made sure they were in the right course,” he said.

“That was a big part of our method this year that we hadn’t done before. If a boy was struggling in one subject and needed help, we had teachers intervene.”

“It’s almost like developing individual learning plans for each boy, and we’re looking to even do more of that in the future.”

Success stories speak out

Thomas Fotiou, Champagnat Catholic College Pagewood

99.35 ATAR, All-Round Achiever

“Champagnat provided me with an effective academic space through which I was able to achieve my goals. The school environment’s promotion of hard work and a standard of excellence had a significant influence on the results that I have achieved.

“If I could give advice to the 2019 Year 12 class, it would be to try and maintain a level of consistency throughout the year. A bit of determination and lots of hard work will pay off. Always stay focused on your end-goal, because anything worth achieving is more often than not hard-won. Slow and steady wins the race!”

St Clare’s students celebrate their ATARs

Kate Darby, St Clare’s Catholic College Waverley

97.95 ATAR

“I needed 92 to get into International Studies so my result really proves what the school taught me – if you work hard you can achieve anything!”

Madelaine Casswell, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College Kensington

97.95 ATAR, All-Round Achiever

“I’m actually a swimmer, so my school really understood that was my priority as well as schoolwork. They always supported me whenever I missed a class or was going to be away for an assessment. I trained normally all through the year except for the mornings of my HSC and trial exams.

“I’d advise 2019 HSC students just focus on the things you can control, including your prep and how organised you are. It helped me reduce a lot of stress just realising that I couldn’t control what was on the exam.”

Gregory Frelingos, Marist College Eastwood

97.4 ATAR, All-Round Achiever

“I’m extremely, extremely happy, I probably can’t emphasise that enough – it’s not just the mark itself, it’s looking back at all the work you’ve done and just finally seeing it there on the screen. It’s a beautiful feeling.”

“It was the year group that really made me push myself – without this group of boys, honestly, I wouldn’t have been able to get as high as I could, I just had so much support.”

Laura Thompson, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College Kensington

ATAR 96.85, All-Round Achiever

“This year the school started these sessions once every fortnight where we did an activity to help us relax, like yoga, to kind of take our mind off the HSC.”

“I would tell next year’s Year 12 students definitely don’t do everything alone – the best thing to do is to share your notes with other people. And enjoy your final year because now that I’m, gone I will miss it – try and enjoy your time with friends.”

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