Record-breaking year for Chifley College

The Senior Campus of the multi-site Mount Druitt school has delivered the best HSC results since the college was founded.

A group of people wearing masks standing in a classroom A group of people wearing masks standing in a classroom
Image: Facing the future: Graduates of the class of 2021 meet with NSW Department of Education Deputy Secretary School Performance Leanne Nixon, centre, at the school to celebrate their HSC results.

Chifley College Senior Campus is celebrating one of its best HSC years in two decades with its 2021 cohort tripling the number of Band 5 and 6 results.

As schools begin analysing the 2021 results, Chifley College Senior Campus in Mount Druitt was among some of the standout improvement in results that also included Cumberland High School moving up the school rankings from 243 in the State to 110 and Engadine High School in Sydney’s South, which had 30 Distinguished Achievers and moved into the top 10 comprehensive high schools in the State.

At Chifley College, Senior Campus, its number of Band 5 and 6 results increased from 21 in 2020 to 67 in 2021.

This was despite being in one of the hardest-hit local government areas of concern in the pandemic that saw students learning from home for around 16 weeks.

Chifley College Senior Campus’s principal from 2001 to last year, Steve Freeborn, said the success of the 2021 cohort was due to a combination of dedicated work of teaching and non-teaching staff from the college’s 7-10 schools and the Senior Campus, engaged and supportive parents and families and a group of students who collectively decided they would not let their learning be disrupted by the pandemic.

“They took on the challenge of engaging in new and innovative online learning while maintaining a positive relationship with their teachers,” Mr Freeborn said.

“On behalf of all our staff throughout the five Campuses of Chifley College, I congratulate this group of young adults on their outstanding success. They have broken many benchmarks for HSC results never achieved at Chifley College since its formation in 2000.”

Chifley College Deputy Principal Paul Eldridge, who was the part of the Year 12 leadership team, said he was not surprised by the result.

“The desire to succeed [among the students] was there,” Mr Eldridge said. “Our job was to encourage them and help them reach their potential.”

He said the groundwork for the success was laid in Year 11 with teachers working with students to ensure they took the right subjects and undertaking assessment monitoring throughout the year to track and support their progress.

School captain Sietara Mahshar, who will study a Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Politics, Philosophy and Economics at UNSW next year, was the school dux receiving the ninth-best ATAR at the college in 21 years.

“I was pretty happy with my results and so were my family,” Sietara said. “By the end of the HSC I was finding it a bit of a slog, but I pushed myself to go that little bit harder.”

The daughter of Afghan migrants who fled the Taliban 25 years ago, Sietara said she would be the first in her family to go straight from school to university.

With much of her year’s HSC disrupted by COVID, Sietara praised the school for the support it offered students.

“We had a really supportive network of teachers,” Sietara said. “We could call our teachers any time of the day with questions, and they were always offering useful study tips and just checking in.

“On Fridays we would get together for a catch up to see how we were doing and it wasn’t about the HSC it was just to see how we were and that is what got us through the HSC and through the lockdown.”

Mr Eldridge said importantly it wasn’t just the high achievers at the school who had done well with the middle Bands also lifting.

“We had 112 Band 4s so there was a lot of buoyancy in the middle as well,” he said.

“And even for our non-ATAR students we were able to retain them and ensure they attained their HSC.”

Among the vocational students many had picked up apprenticeships and work, and students had early offers from universities.

Part of the success, Mr Eldridge said, was also due to an expansion in the school’s learning support structure which allowed them to give more targeted help where it was required including holding tutorials in Term 4 to help overcome some of the lockdown disadvantage.

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