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Pathways for the Future

When assisting Senior School students in subject selection for Years 11 and 12, is not about one pathway over another, but rather a suite of pathways from which individual students can select the one most suitable for them, and in which they are likely to achieve their best success.

At St Mark's, we are passionate about creating an environment which encourages each student to feel safe, to feel a sense of belonging, to be who they are and to engage in pathways appropriate to them, within a learning culture of high care and high challenge that fosters excellence.

During their time at St Mark’s, students hone the skills, knowledge, and habits that will enable them to make effective decisions, lead themselves and others, and flourish in their chosen post-school pathways.

There are a number of benefits in giving students alternate pathways and opportunities for flexible learning.

The disruption to education caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 has drawn into question the ATAR as the perceived main pathway into university study. The disruptions faced by Year 12 students during that critical period in 2020 saw many universities rethinking the ways in which they accept students into their courses.

Just a quarter of Australian students enter an undergraduate degree based on their ATAR. Universities offer a range of alternative entry pathways, including interviews, portfolios, entrance tests, and credit for vocational education and training (VET).

For example, a number of Australian universities accepted students for study in 2021 based on the students’ Year 11 results. Universities, post-COVID, are likely to continue to consider fair, equitable, appropriate and increasingly less-traditional entry pathways.

Looking to the Future is a recent review of school pathways into work, further education, and training, led by a panel chaired by Professor Peter Shergold AC, published on 23 July 2020. The report notes that:

“Education must prepare young people both for active citizenship in a democratic society and for purposeful engagement with the labour market. School leavers do not just need to be employable. They need to be adaptable, flexible, and confident. Education must provide students with the essential attributes they require for lifelong learning in whatever fields of endeavour they may choose.”


When students are asked in Years 10, 11 and 12 to make decisions about their futures, they are not necessarily ready to finalise one choice. The ATAR and General Pathways help prepare young people to take the next step beyond their secondary education into university, TAFE, work or further training. Neither pathway precludes someone changing their mind beyond their secondary education. A young person may not be ready for a university pathway, yet, and so the General Pathway, possibly inclusive of VET courses, can enable success in secondary education while allowing time for thoughts about future possibilities to form and mature. St Mark’s is proud to enable students to be successful in a senior secondary pathway that suits them at that time.

At St Mark’s our students are supported to be active, values-driven citizens and adaptable lifelong learners. They are offered and advised about a range of pathways to enable their success now and into the future.