CGS From the Head - 16 December 2016

To all in the School community,

On behalf of everyone at Canberra Grammar School, I’d like to congratulate all Year 12 HSC students of 2016 on their recent results. While grades for the School’s IB cohort will not be released until January, I am very pleased for our HSC students and I’ll comment on media reports of their results below.

First, however, attention where it is due; to the students not to the media. I am delighted for all students who are proud of their achievement and I am especially delighted for those whose outstanding performances gained top state placements in a system with a total cohort of over 77,000 students. 


Charles Hancock was 1st in the state for German Extension and 4th for German Continuers. Other top placements were earned by Nicholas McCabe who was 5th in the state for Music Extension, Mark Glanville who was 9th in Software Design and Development, and Eric Gittleman who was 18th for Business Studies. Elliott Murphy was also 16th in the state for Mathematics, despite taking the exams a year early. Eddie Stewart joined Charles Hancock and Mark Glanville on the all-round achievers’ list, and our students gained 107 places on the distinguished achievers’ list for earning results in the highest possible bands.

While schools under the NSW system do not receive ATAR notifications, 99% of our students will graduate with an ATAR, around 90% of which will be above 65.

Once again this year, upper band results in the great majority of subjects were well beyond state percentages. I particularly commend students for their outstanding performances in the following subjects in which percentages in Band 6 alone exceeded the state multiple times over:

  • Software Design and Development: 53% Band 6 compared with 11% for the state
  • German Continuers: 75% Band 6 compared with 23% for the state
  • Music 2: 100% Band 6 compared with 34% for the state
  • Visual Arts: 33% Band 6 compared with 14% for the state; and
  • Biology: 18% Band 6 compared with 9% for the state.

I was also delighted to see so many of our students made advanced offers by universities this year. In fact, more than 10% of our HSC students were given unconditional early offers to universities, which is extraordinary and signals profound changes to the significance of the entire ATAR system. Many students will also receive bonus points for their individual successes, and it has been lovely to hear from so many who are so happy with their achievements and the opportunities now before them.


In that light, therefore, I was extremely disappointed by commentary on the Sydney Morning Herald’s misleading league tables at what should be a time of happy fulfilment for our HSC students and their teachers who have worked so hard all year. Having been lauded by the Herald for leaping a spectacular 60 places on the league table last year, it is galling to be damned in Canberra Times headlines this year for not repeating the same feat.

In a non-selective school there will always be variation in overall performance from year to year. As I’ve said a number of times this year, it was always going to be hard to follow the phenomenal performance of the 2015 cohort, which attained some of the School’s strongest results ever on record, but the students of 2016 should not have their own achievement undermined by comparison. They deserve better respect than that; nor should the value of their whole education be reduced to a newspaper click-grab.

Crucially too, the School’s league table position is simply wrong. It is artificially suppressed because it excludes the IB results for nearly 20% of the cohort, which, for the past few years, have significantly augmented overall results once released in January. All IB/HSC schools face such false positioning in the HSC tables, as is explained here IBSCHOOLSNSWACT.ORG. We live with the league table farce each year because we believe in the higher educational value of our offering.

In fact, our HSC students’ results compare extremely well with those from similar IB/HSC schools in Sydney like Trinity Grammar School, Newington College, St Andrew’s Cathedral School, Redlands and others who are all badly misrepresented on the league tables, just as we are, because dozens of strong students are omitted.

Having said all that, of course, we should always look candidly for improvement. Even in our traditionally strongest subjects we can find opportunities for refinement each year and striving in all areas for the kind of results that our intelligent and articulate students deserve must continue to be a major focus in 2017.

In the meantime, once more, I congratulate all of our HSC students for their successes; I look forward to doing likewise for our IB students in January; and I thank them all for their leadership of the School in 2016. I wish them well in their studies and careers, and I hope that they take with them enduring pride in their experience, their successes and their great contribution at Canberra Grammar School.

With warm regards and good wishes for Christmas and the new year,

Justin Garrick
Head of School

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