Change the ATAR system - celebrate students as more than a number!

Change the ATAR system - celebrate students as more than a number!

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Christa Hubik started this petition to Australian Federal Government Department of Education and

Year 12. The final year of secondary school for Australian students. For many of them, the culmination of years of hard work. Regardless, a direct pathway into further forms of education or the workforce should they choose. 

However, according to a large consensus among both former and current students completing the mainstream path to graduation, Year 12 is also a disproportionately stressful and narrow-lensed experience when one considers the student’s point of view.

The secondary schooling and ATAR systems as they  operate in tandem today primarily cater to one type of student: Neurotypical, privileged, studious, able to absorb and retain frankly ridiculous amounts of information and not only reproduce but apply that in small amounts of time under intense pressure... It goes on. In addition, the mental, physical and other negative effects from the currently competitive and result-focused high school environment are lasting, far too commonly reported and quite frankly far too scarcely discussed in government and media settings.

Why not de-centre these educational systems from academia and the end result, and create a well-rounded, less stressful high school experience that encourages students to grow in many aspects?

Secondary schooling coincides with arguably the most formative years of a student’s childhood. What do we as a nation want to instil in our school leavers; a turbulent relationship with learning, academia and their view of themselves, or value placed on the student as a multi-faceted, uniquely skilled and wholly capable individual?

Perhaps tertiary education bodies could screen applicants on a case by case basis, looking at a plethora of an applicant’s personal qualities and achievements supported by revised curriculums, their teachers’ recommendations and school initiatives. We need to find a balance between standardisation and celebration of individuality. (Not to be simplistic, just giving an example).


Some anecdotes from former and current Year 12s:

”I still have nightmares about it 3 years on.”

”My school always said, “You’re more than your score!” but it feels like the only reason we’re there is to churn out a good ATAR and go, not to develop other parts of ourselves before we leave school.”

“I dropped a subject in the third week of the year because I couldn’t handle the sheer amount of content expected be known in detail... In the third week!”

“Watching friends, classmates break down regularly because they can’t cope with the pressure and workload is disturbing. We’re literally children.”

“I wish we celebrated every type of learner.”


I call on the Federal Government, namely its Department of Education, Skills and Employment and Federal Minister for Education the Hon. Dan Tehan to immediately initiate a national and inclusive consultation and reform process with past and present Year 12 students, educators, schools and affiliated bodies which centres the student’s experience and works toward a new path for secondary-level learning in this country. Our current system is not serving the best interest of our kids. 2020 and its challenges are forcing us to adapt, presenting the perfect opportunity for reform in this area.

Will you join me?

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