The College Question

stayingmum 30 December 2009 25

We have moved to the north side from interstate and have missed the chance to get to schools prior to enrolment. My daughter is about to start college and has some special needs that could use the support of good pastoral care and also has arts/music (contemporary, not formal) and drama interests.

Can any RiotACTers give a lowdown on strengths and weaknesses between Dickson, Canberra, Narrabundah and Lake Ginninderra Colleges? My daughter definitely wants to qualify for uni but not brilliant academically – should this make a difference to the college she chooses with all the scaling and ranking they do? (We are having a bit of trouble getting our head around the system!) Thanks!

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peterh peterh 12:50 pm 06 Jan 10

I tend to think that the ACT Schooling system fails a lot of kids who are used to the regimen of High school – you must go to class, no exceptions… When they go to college, the regimen is removed. probably great for prep for uni, but many kids miss out on a decent education and their parents pay for them to spend all their time in the cafeteria. I know, mine did.

The high school year 7 to year 10 should be expanded to year 12. close the colleges down and redeploy their resources…

regarding the different colleges, I have limited experience – 20 odd years ago, I went to copland college, it was a good school, but the lack of order meant that we didn’t all pass year 12… If you are out of the feeder, chances of getting your kids into a preferred school are pretty slim. you get what is available to you.

astrojax astrojax 10:07 pm 04 Jan 10

why go to college? go to tafe, get a trade, and earn squillions, live in a new brick box in some new edge suburb like barry or kevin and have a ute, a statesman, four kids and a trophy spouse.

Mordd Mordd 1:49 pm 04 Jan 10

Fair bit of lack of understanding of how the current NSW HSW system works. I completed year 11 in 98 in a NSW high school in Sydney, dropped out at the start of year 12. Back then your end of year 12 marks were equally scaled from in class and out of class work (ie: homework) from both years 11 and 12, with the final HSC exam representing no more than 30% or 40% of the final mark at the time I was attending school. I dropped out as i was working 35hrs a week while doing year 11 and although I was getting high in class marks I was getting almost zero for out of class work thus if id gone on to complete year 12 I had wasted at least 35% of my overall end mark as a result, due to the fact that the HSC score is made up of a combination of factors. This misconception that 50% or more of your HSC mark is the exam pissed me off every time I hear it, it really isn’t that hard to look up how the NSW system works you know…..

georgesgenitals georgesgenitals 11:31 pm 02 Jan 10

bd84 said :

georgesgenitals said :

bd84 said :

The scaling makes very little difference to results, it’s no different to NSW scaling HSC exam results. The major benefit is that the overall result is not dependent on a extremely high pressure end of year 12 exams, rather performance across years 11 and 12.

NSW schools have been using combined years 11 and 12 assessment and exams for many years. It is a fallacy that it ‘all depends on the final exam’.

NSW does have combined assessment, however the HSC exams still have a considerable impact on a student’s result as they form about 50% of their final mark.

When I went through the NSW system (finished about 15 years ago), the final exams made up 25% of your mark. They also drew marks from your trial exams, assessment exams and assessment assignments.

It was fairly exam heavy for the higher academic subjects, but the exam practise was great prep for the uni degrees that required heav exams also (which I then went on to).

Is one better than the other? I doubt it, although different kids do better in one or the other.

Mikaela Mikaela 8:25 pm 02 Jan 10

I teach at Dickson, and I also did my prac there, and also went there as a student, so I may be a little bias… But it really is a fantastic school.

Narrabundah’s drama reputation is based upon the previous excellent drama teacher’s tuition, and he has since retired. The new teacher is also excellent, but I’d like to point out the new drama teacher at Dickson is fantastic also, so don’t discount Dickson in that aspect.

Dickson is only very slightly behind Narrabundah in scores, and it’s numbers are not dropping as Peter has suggested, in fact numbers in 2008/9 have been the highest in a number of years.

The focus on community is to be commended, and great things are about to happen in the arts and design.

As people have said, most Canberra colleges are pretty on par with each other, I don’t think any one school is a stand out above the rest, but I just wanted to give Dickson a little boost as not much had been said about it so far.

JC JC 6:25 pm 02 Jan 10

trevar said :

Most of Peterr’s comments are right, but vocational (VET) courses are offered in most ACT colleges. VET courses in secondary colleges usually are offered at a Cert I or Cert II level of the National Qualifications Framework, which is fine, but most industries requiring a VET qualification require Cert III or above, so further education is required after college to upgrade these.

I think the person who asked about vocation courses was talking about them in a much wider sense. When I went to college in 89/90 there were two types of classes. There were T classes that counted towards a TER amd A classes that didn’t count. Generally the A classes were aimed at people who wanted to enter the workforce after college rather than go to uni first. Generally these were more practically oriented classes. I did electronics for example. When it came to traditional subjects such as maths and English these were offered in both a T and an A course, again tailored to suit the end needs of the student. In my book the A courses are in a way a form of vocational education.

trevar trevar 8:22 am 02 Jan 10

Peterr2084 said :

Colleges are year 11 and 12 only, which enables a far greater range of courses to be offered that ordinary 7 to 12 schools (hence the number of private school students that leave at the end of year 10 to attend a college) – there is no vocational leaning

Most of Peterr’s comments are right, but vocational (VET) courses are offered in most ACT colleges. VET courses in secondary colleges usually are offered at a Cert I or Cert II level of the National Qualifications Framework, which is fine, but most industries requiring a VET qualification require Cert III or above, so further education is required after college to upgrade these.

I’m also a teacher and work with all colleges, and even I can’t get my head around the ATAR ranking system, so don’t feel too bad. When it’s that complicated, I suspect that even the bureaucrats are just bluffing their way through it.

As for specific colleges, I believe that differences in individual students’ experiences have more to do with individual students’ and teachers’ personalities than with anything about the colleges as a whole, and unfortunately, you can’t predict where personality clashes will enter the equation, so I’d either take the college that offers the most relevant courses, or the one that has the most convenient geographical location.

bd84 bd84 9:02 pm 01 Jan 10

georgesgenitals said :

bd84 said :

The scaling makes very little difference to results, it’s no different to NSW scaling HSC exam results. The major benefit is that the overall result is not dependent on a extremely high pressure end of year 12 exams, rather performance across years 11 and 12.

NSW schools have been using combined years 11 and 12 assessment and exams for many years. It is a fallacy that it ‘all depends on the final exam’.

NSW does have combined assessment, however the HSC exams still have a considerable impact on a student’s result as they form about 50% of their final mark.

Peterr2084 Peterr2084 11:25 am 01 Jan 10

I have been a college teacher for 10 years (south side). Narrabundah has developed a reputation that is a reflection on its students, not on its performance. All colleges on the northside are good, though lake G is the one I know least about. You have not mentioned Copeland or Hawker, both of which have dynamic and creative principals. As other writers have said, where you live will normally determine which college(s) are available to you, but there is some flexibility. Honestly, I would have no hesitation in sending my children to any of the colleges in canberra (however, Dickson is pretty old now and its numbers are dropping, and as I’ve indicated, I know little about lake G ).

Colleges are year 11 and 12 only, which enables a far greater range of courses to be offered that ordinary 7 to 12 schools (hence the number of private school students that leave at the end of year 10 to attend a college) – there is no vocational leaning

CHW CHW 7:45 am 01 Jan 10

High schools are for students aged between 13 and 16 years, which in Canberra is counted as Year 7 through to Year 10.

College is for students aged 16 to 18, and is for Years 11 and 12.

They cover the ‘hard’ academic subjects in college as well as giving kids a well-rounded selection of arts degree-type subjects.

Vocational subjects (hairdressing/car mechanics/etc) are taught at Technical and Further Education (TAFE) facilities.

molongloid molongloid 10:18 pm 31 Dec 09

luther_bendross said :

What is the difference between high schools and colleges? …it looks like colleges are usually years 10 – 12 and have a more vocational leaning than pure adacemia.

ACT “college” can be read as “sixth form college” – the place you go to do your final couple of years. High school ends in year 10.

georgesgenitals georgesgenitals 8:42 pm 31 Dec 09

bd84 said :

The scaling makes very little difference to results, it’s no different to NSW scaling HSC exam results. The major benefit is that the overall result is not dependent on a extremely high pressure end of year 12 exams, rather performance across years 11 and 12.

NSW schools have been using combined years 11 and 12 assessment and exams for many years. It is a fallacy that it ‘all depends on the final exam’.

s-s-a s-s-a 7:56 pm 31 Dec 09

Apologies if this is considered to be OT, but forgive my poor understanding. What is the difference between high schools and colleges?

Public high schools in Canberra only go to year 10. Colleges are for year 11 and 12. In any given area there will be more high schools than colleges – eg Woden/Weston Ck has high schools at Alfred Deakin, Melrose and Stromlo but just one college (Canberra College at Phillip). Similarly there are a handful of high schools in most other regions – Inner North, Inner South, Tuggers, Belco etc but just one college each.

JC JC 7:10 pm 31 Dec 09

luther_bendross said :

Apologies if this is considered to be OT, but forgive my poor understanding. What is the difference between high schools and colleges? Briefly looking through them internets, it looks like colleges are usually years 10 – 12 and have a more vocational leaning than pure adacemia. Until now I had no idea there was a difference, I thought college was an American term for our uni. Please explain?

College in the ACT is years 11 and 12. The classes are split into two general streams. Using your terms one stream is more vocational and the other academia. Students can mix and match classes to suit themselves. What the mix is is up to the student to decide based on weather they want to go to uni after college in which case they will do more ‘academic style classes’ or work where the classes are more practically orientated.

When I did college I hedged my bets. I did the bare minimum number of academtic classes (called T for tertiary back then) to qualify for a TER plus the more practical classes I wanted to do, such as electronics and sport.

Peanut Peanut 7:07 pm 31 Dec 09

luther_bendross: In the ACT we have a govt college system which is quite different from the rest of Australia. High Schools go from years 7 (usually) to 10 and then College is years 11 and 12 although DET is beginning to mix things up a bit and Copland now goes from year 7 technically. Non gov schools call themselves what they like.

gun street girl gun street girl 6:06 pm 31 Dec 09

luther_bendross said :

Apologies if this is considered to be OT, but forgive my poor understanding. What is the difference between high schools and colleges? Briefly looking through them internets, it looks like colleges are usually years 10 – 12 and have a more vocational leaning than pure adacemia. Until now I had no idea there was a difference, I thought college was an American term for our uni. Please explain?

I think the college system is peculiar to the ACT (and is one of our greatest achievements). Essentially, “college” in the ACT is a public school that only takes Year 11 and 12 students. They tend to have pretty big student intakes, and can therefore offer a vast array of subjects – accredited for both vocational training, and for tertiary entrance – depending on the desire and abilities of the individual student.

LegalNut LegalNut 4:14 pm 31 Dec 09

Based on what you have said, Narrabundah is the college you want. Canberra may also work. I would rule out LGC and Dickson based on the interests listed.

As far as getting into Narrabundah, it is tricky if you live outside of the catchment area however it is not impossible. You need to position yourself in such as way as to show that Narrabundah (if that is your chosen college) is the only college that you can attend. Generally, you need to show that the college is the only one offering certain courses that you want to study (eg Politics, Forestry, etc). It is especially helpful if these courses are essential to further tertiary study in the area of your choice. Do some research and you should be able to get in where you want, even if it takes a couple of appeals to the department.

luther_bendross luther_bendross 2:50 pm 31 Dec 09

Apologies if this is considered to be OT, but forgive my poor understanding. What is the difference between high schools and colleges? Briefly looking through them internets, it looks like colleges are usually years 10 – 12 and have a more vocational leaning than pure adacemia. Until now I had no idea there was a difference, I thought college was an American term for our uni. Please explain?

necrocelia necrocelia 9:52 am 31 Dec 09

If she wants to do drama and music I’d say that Narrabundah would be her best option. Bundah also performs really well in regards to the scaling system thing- when I finished in 2007 my UAI went up substantially. Without that, i wouldn’t have been able to get into my degree at ANU! I went through a few medical and emotional ups and downs during year 11 and 12, but there was always someone available to talk to and help me through. I also don’t really think I’m brilliant academically either- so Narrabundah was great for me!

Peanut Peanut 7:34 am 31 Dec 09

She may not have a choice about the college as places were allocated a long time ago and the only college which would have to accept her is the one in whose catchment area you are living. http://www.bsss.act.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0018/106452/media_cohortstats_novet.pdf gives you some relative performance data.

Pastoral care would be pretty much the same no matter where you go. Music, Arts and drama – Narrabundah would have the edge I think but if you dont live in the area that could be somewhat tricky.

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