What is an education worth having?

By Peter Kerr, Fellow of Council

When was the last time you mentioned your ATAR score?

Brought it up over morning tea? Around the executive table? Down a mine? As a parent of two kids, it’s a question I’ve often pondered. How important is an ATAR ranking after the fact? When does such an arbitrary number become irrelevant? Rather, when is the small window in which the score is relevant and why are some schools geared to optimising an entire education strategy on such a small period? It seems like an education that is focused solely on an ATAR score is going to be one that is seriously lacking. That is why Guildford Grammar School provides an education that is so much more and has a real vision for your child’s future.

What matters when you’re choosing a school? What’s an education worth having? I’m not trying to dismiss the importance of studying hard and striving for your best possible score. Of course ATAR is important and different opportunities come with a good ATAR score. But it is one (average) point estimate in a lifetime. What mattered – and matters – to me and my wife is how education prepared our kids for an increasingly complex and rapidly changing world. At the heart of every parent’s decision-making process is their vision for the type of person their child will become; they choose a school based on what type of people leave its grounds. At Guildford Grammar you can rest assured that our focus is on making your child the best possible version of themselves.

First and foremost, the foundations of an education worth having are:

  • There must be compassion and care at the heart of a school. Your children need great pastoral care to nurture them and provide a safe learning environment.
  • A wide range of options – scholarly, creative and sporting – is important, so that students don’t feel pressured into ‘one path’ in life.
  • Quality facilities and room to move; Guildford feels like ‘the country’, but is in the city.
  • Tradition helps, especially when it’s used to inspire achievement rather than dwelling in the past. To Go Forward.
  • A great community. It should have engaged and has active tribes like the Old Guildfordian’s Association and parent groups.
  • Finally, it’s a place that values diversity of thought and experience, to help prepare children for the opportunities and challenges of life.

I would also add co-educational schooling. Our son and daughter were both fortunate to benefit richly from being at the same school with their complete group of friends.   

Guildford Grammar School caters for, and represents, all this. But it is much more. As some of our great teachers have posted, an education worth having is about students being at the very core of the School – teaching them what they want and need, rather than a curriculum that will get them a particular score.

It’s teaching them resilience: it’s not how you fall, it’s how you get back up that matters. Add to that immersive, real-world experiences to help build creative thinking and the universal skills and capabilities so needed in modern society.  

That is an education worth having. 

Peter Kerr is a current Fellow of Council and Old Guildfordian (Wb 85-87).