The Thistle - An E-Newsletter of Scotch College, Perth, Western Australia

Year 10 and Beyond

This week the Year 10 cohort commences the process of subject selection for Year 11 with an introduction to WACE and IB courses. For many schools, this process will not commence until late next term. However, at Scotch College, the boys together with their parents have a much broader decision to make, as we offer both the Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE) and the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP). This may make the scope of decisions harder; however, reducing this choice for boys would falsely assume all students learn the same irrespective of personal differences and interests. It is important the academic challenge of the programme is in line with each boys' ability and promotes the development of their individual skills and talents. If we consider that the final two years should engender a passion for sustained learning, our commitment to offering variety in both the overall programme and in the various subjects is vital. Through the provision of different pathways, we ensure an engaging and versatile programme of study for each boy to meet this endeavour.

Last year a study conducted by a Victorian University reported that only 26% of students were applying to university through a typical ATAR application, instead, opting for other methods such as aptitude testing, interviews, portfolios, auditions or essays. This approach to University entrance is growing in popularity as tertiary institutions endeavour to match the right students to the right courses. Additionally, this highlights that not all students flourish in an examination-based education nor will this method of teaching and learning guarantee success in further studies.  As a school, we need to think carefully about the many and varied pathways that our boys take beyond secondary school, and through choice, establish a transition that will ensure their success.

It is not uncommon to hear remarks such as, "if you don't take an examination based pathway, you cannot access University" or "you only take the IBDP if you want to study overseas" or "you should take Methods because the scaling is better". However, every one of these comments is false, yet we continue to hear them year after year. For example, if you combine ATAR English with a Certificate IV you can directly enter University without an ATAR. The IBDP is recognised at UWA without the need for conversion and Curtin offers advanced standing on some Higher Level (HL) subjects. Historically, students who have taken both Methods and Application have used their Applications score in calculating their ATAR. Myths should not inform decisions.

At Scotch College, we have a number of ways of keeping both our parents and students informed. We offer;

  • Separate information evenings for both the WACE and IBDP.
  • A comprehensive course information site ( that describes each pathway, the subjects on offer and the desired pre-requisite from Year 10.
  • A Day in the Life of a WACE student and a second day for the Day in the life of a Diploma student. Each day they select six subjects and hear valuable information from the teachers.
  • A House Head meeting after the Semester One Year 10 report to discuss suitable pathways.
  • A parent, teacher, student interview evening to discuss recommended subjects.
  • A one on one meeting with a senior member of staff to discuss the final selections.

Although this approach is extensive, it is done with the view to minimise disruptions through subject changes in Year 11.