Geraldton’s Nagle Catholic College named in WA’s top 50 ATAR schools

Bethany Hiatt & Kate CampbellGeraldton Guardian
Julia Teakle hasn't quite decided where her 97.10 ATAR will take her.
Camera IconJulia Teakle hasn't quite decided where her 97.10 ATAR will take her. Credit: Edward Scown

Geraldton’s Nagle Catholic College has cracked the top 50 list of WA’s best performing ATAR schools — believed to be for the first time.

With its Year 12 cohort last year scoring a median ATAR of 82.55, Nagle ended up equal 47th on the academic achievement list.

Academically selective public school Perth Modern topped the rankings for the sixth year in a row with a median of 96.45, while single-sex private schools in Perth took out seven of the first 10 placings.

Nagle was one of five regional schools in the prestigious list.

In a Facebook post last month, Nagle said its 2021 graduates “showed great commitment and dedication to their studies throughout the year which is reflected in their outstanding academic achievements.”

It said its median ATAR of 82.55 was above the State median of 81.75, with 25 per cent of the school’s ATAR students achieving greater than 90.

Its highest ATAR ranking of 97.10 belonged to Julia Teakle, who was named among the top 4 per cent of ATAR students last year.

Geraldton Grammar School’s Connie Greeve (98.95) and Tahnee Gronow (97.50) received slightly higher ATARs. Geraldton Grammar made the top 50 list in 2018.

In an interview with the Geraldton Guardian last month, Julia said a healthy school-life balance was critical to success. She said taking regular “brain breaks” at the beach helped her stay focused.

“Don’t put pressure on yourself,” she said.

“Year 12 is meant to be the most fun year of your life. Don’t stress, that was my biggest regret, just putting way too much stress on.”

Meanwhile, education authorities have blocked the public release of data used for the annual school rankings, believing WA’s top schools should be top secret.

The best-performing schools based on last year’s Year 12 results was revealed by The West Australian on Monday, but only because it fought for access under freedom of information laws.

After 15 years of releasing an annual league table, the School Curriculum and Standards Authority has decreed it will no longer compile a list ranking the top 50 schools based on the median ATAR achieved by students in each school.

The authority’s executive director, Allan Blagaich, said it would instead provide a web-based look-up table for schools to access their data.

“Concerns raised over time with the authority about ‘school versus school’ comparison promoting some activities that are not in the best interests of students were considered by the board in making this decision,” he said.

Mr Blagaich said the median ATAR information had been provided by the Tertiary Institutions Service Centre, so the board had also decided to stop publishing TISC’s data on the authority’s website.

TISC provides each school with its own median ATAR results, but does not release a comparative list publicly.

The only comparison information SCSA will continue to provide is a list of schools with the highest-performing students in particular subjects.

Asked why parents were being denied access to rankings, Education Minister Sue Ellery said parents were not being denied access to data that was of interest to them.

“The online look-up table will provide an overview of all the data associated with a particular school, so students and their families will still have access to information about the performance of each school,” she said. The look-up table, published on Monday, does not include schools’ median ATARs.

Shadow education minister Peter Rundle said parents should be able to get that information. “Like everything, schools are a choice,” he said.

The top 50, compiled by TISC after The West Australian made a freedom of information application, ranks schools based on their students’ median — or middle — ATAR.

A full list of every eligible school’s median ATAR will be published in The West on Tuesday. The top 50 list was made up of 21 independent private schools, 16 Catholic schools and 13 public schools.

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