A Victorian principal has called for the ATAR to be overhauled and a focus on life skills be brought into schools.
A new survey of 1,000 Victorian parents and teachers found life skills were considered more valuable for students than their final academic result.
The survey, conducted by independent Melbourne school, Kilvington Grammar, of parents and teachers from across Victoria, assessed the outcomes, skills and character traits considered most important for children to gain from school as well as concerns for today’s children during their schooling years.
Principal of Kilvington Grammar, Jon Charlton, said life skills should be taught explicitly by schools and the ATAR overhauled to take into account a broader range of competencies.
“The dilemma for schools is that key skills such as reading, writing and maths are specific, teachable abilities that can be defined and measured,” he said.
“By contrast, life skills such as adaptability, problem solving, creativity, collaboration and communication are less tangible and measurable.
“In today’s world these skills are more vital than ever—children should be learning them from a young age and we need to find a way to measure them alongside the ATAR.
Key findings include:
· The outcome ranked as least important was a high ATAR score, while the most important outcomes included communication skills, having a positive attitude and a strong work-ethic followed by courage, self-esteem and problem solving.
· The character traits most parents and teachers want for children included problem solving, respect, responsibility, confidence, independence and self-esteem.
· Top concerns included coping with being bullied, cyber bullying, peer pressure around drugs and alcohol, anxiety and depression and the negative impact of social media.
· 93% of respondents felt children should be learning and developing ‘life skills’ at school along with core academic subjects.
· 85% agreed that focusing on test scores like NAPLAN and ATAR does not take into account all aspects of a child’s development and capabilities.
· Academic achievement (49%) and High ATAR score (32%) were considered least important in preparing children for the future job market.