Our world needs more than an ATAR

Planning, preparedness and the ability to adapt to changing situations – essential skills for the Outdoor and Environmental Studies student – important life skills for everybody!  Photograph by Blake Verlinden Year 11.

Planning, preparedness and the ability to adapt to changing situations – essential skills for the Outdoor and Environmental Studies student – important life skills for everybody!

Photograph by Blake Verlinden Year 11.

In a recent article, Fairfax journalist Anna Patty reported that companies such as KPMG, PwC, and Macquarie University were now asking prospective employees if they have a Duke of Edinburgh Award in order to help assess whether they are well-rounded and team players.

The Duke of Ed. program involves elements of community service, physical recreation, learning new skills and taking an adventurous journey. It is a program supported by an increasing number of schools, including Woodleigh, where it is a natural fit with all that we do.

In the article, Deputy chairman of the Duke of Edinburgh International Award, Sandra Nor, is quoted as saying “Resilience, responsibility, respect and co-operation cannot be taught, they can only be learnt experientially.”

I could not agree more.

Experiential learning, or learning through direct experience, is a term I use a lot to describe the programs offered at Woodleigh School. Our Camps, Activities, Homestead, Broadening Horizons, Round Square, and Immersion Learning Programs offer our students a myriad of opportunities that challenge them to step out of their comfort zones, to be creative, to solve problems and collaborate.

Universities too are looking beyond the ATAR as a sole measure of student performance. Interviews, folio presentations and evidence of leadership and active engagement in the community are an increasingly important part of the tertiary selection process.

These human, or ‘soft skills’ not only improve employability, they support success throughout careers which will undoubtedly be longer and more diverse than our own. The concept of providing an education which is expansive and moves beyond the traditional schooling model is not new – at Woodleigh we have been practising this for more than 40 years. 

But today it seems more critical than ever.

Jonathan Walter – Principal