Private Schools Melbourne, Sydney and Perth – Regent Consulting

As an ageing former teacher, one of the occupational hazards is encountering former students on a regular basis in the most unlikely places all over the world. I recently heard a “Hi Mr O’Shannassy” in the supermarket and turned around to see a 30 something mother with three kids in tow, who was a former Year 12 students of mine. She told me all about her life and then proceeded to recall all the quotes and sayings I used to bombard them with some 20 years earlier. It was both flattering and frightening to think that she could recall them verbatim all these years later. It certainly drove home to me the saying that a teacher never knows where their influence stops.

This is a sample of many encounters I have had and the pattern I have noticed is the preponderance of “poor” students who are in high flying jobs, running businesses and making a good fist of their lives. Some of the biggest rogues I taught, who performed poorly at school, have since achieved incredible things professionally. I walked away from one such encounter recently with a boy I used to teach saying to myself ‘he is CEO of what?, how?’. He was barely a C student!

There are also the  academic high flyers I taught achieving great things professionally but my anecdotal evidence suggests no more so than the poor performers. It did get me thinking about just how important academic results are?

I interview parents for a living about schools, their kids, expectations, values etc-as many of you know. When asked about what they want for their kids when they are 25-30 year olds, overwhelmingly ( 95%), their responses are about wanting their kids to be “happy” (whatever that means!), having a partner to love and not to be on drugs! Ask yourself the same question. Why don’t more of them say they want them to be wealthy, a lawyer, doctor or a professor? Given the amount of time spent analysing schools’ academic performances, why isn’t this one of the first things they say when asked the question?

Schools now spend an inordinate amount of time and resources promoting their academic performances – particularly Year 12 results and NAPLAN performance – and parents buy in to this with their choices. I understand that poor academic results could be a red flag for a parent but I wonder if it is too narrow a scope on which to base a choice. Given the skills and qualities that your child will need to excel as an adult, I am not sure good academic results are the most important thing.

I was in Hong Kong recently and a senior manager with a large Multinational was lamenting to me the lack of leadership and interpersonal skills of the young analysts in their employ. The Prestigious firm has for decades cherry picked the best performing students at leading Universities to work for them, but more and more they are now willing to take lesser performing students who have other important qualities.

Driving around Melbourne reading billboards out the front of the private schools quoting their % above 90 ATAR results is now commonplace. I remain unconvinced it will really matter that much in 10 years time.

The results cannot accurately measure your personality, warmth, perception, initiative, temperament, intuition, humour and ability to work collaboratively – all crucial to success in later life.