Stronger HSC Standards

(Attention current Year 7 and 8 students)

The New South Wales Higher School Certificate (HSC) is a highly valued credential in Australia and internationally. BOSTES has identified key areas for reform through extensive consideration of issues relating to the HSC at board level and in consultation with major stakeholders over the past three years.

At the heart of the HSC reforms is the establishment of a minimum standard in literacy and numeracy for the award of the HSC. The minimum standard reform underpins the two other areas of reform – Curriculum and Assessment – through revised course structure and content, as well as streamlined assessment.

These changes will provide a flexible HSC that caters for the needs of all students, with options to extend students in their studies.

The reforms

The reforms will be implemented in two phases, with initial changes announced by the Minister for Education, Adrian Piccoli, on 19 July 2016. These reforms will come into effect over the next four years along with new Year 11 and 12 syllabuses in English, maths, science and history. They include:

  • Establishing a minimum literacy and numeracy standard from 2020. Students in Year 9 from 2017 will be able to meet the standard by achieving Band 8 in NAPLAN in reading, writing and numeracy. From 2018, an online literacy and numeracy test will be available for students to demonstrate they have met the standard
  • Establishing a regular review cycle of syllabuses provided online. Syllabuses will provide more opportunities for students to master knowledge and skills
  • New courses, starting with a Science Extension course for Year 12 from 2019
  • Introducing rigorous guidelines for effective school-based assessment that focuses on the application of knowledge and skills, and reduces student stress by capping the number of tasks
  • Redesign HSC exam questions to assess depth of knowledge and application of skills
  • Apply a common scale for maths, to encourage students to study the maths course best suited to their level of ability.

View the Stronger HSC Standards current state, future state from the Minister.

Read the Frequently Asked Questions about the reforms.

BOSTES is currently developing new Stage 6 syllabuses for English, maths, science and history. Consultation on the draft syllabuses is open until Wednesday 31 August. The draft syllabuses, online surveys and a registration facility for consultation meetings are now available.

BOSTES will continue to work with teachers, educators, parents, business and the community to ensure the HSC reforms provide a solid grounding for all students, and opportunities to extend their abilities and interests in preparation for the next phase of their lives.

The full range of reforms, as endorsed by the BOSTES Board, is detailed in the Stronger HSC Standards Blueprint. The Overview of the Evidence document provides the research and rationale for the reforms.


Literacy and numeracy standard

From 2020, students will be required to reach a minimum literacy and numeracy standard to be eligible for the HSC in addition to the existing requirements. Students can meet the standard by achieving a Band 8 in Year 9 NAPLAN (National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy) in each of their reading, writing and numeracy tests from 2017. From 2018, an online literacy and numeracy test will be available for students to demonstrate they have met the standard.

Sample questions illustrating the minimum standard are available at Stronger HSC Standards Literacy and Numeracy demonstration test.

Dan White


Message from the Executive Director of Sydney Catholic Schools

Dear Parents and Carers

A recent article that appeared in The Daily Telegraph and in some local newspapers reported on significant school fee increases for 2017 that have been announced for some schools in the Broken Bay diocese, north of Sydney. These fee increases were in response to projected new ‘needs-based’ funding arrangements that are likely to have an adverse effect for the Broken Bay diocese. It may have been interpreted from the article that similar, large fee increases were also being planned for other dioceses including Sydney Catholic Schools.

I want to reassure you that this is not the case. In 2014, I announced a differentiated school fees policy that took into account the Socio Economic Status (SES) of the suburb each school is located when setting that school’s tuition fees. This policy means that school fee increases vary slightly according to the SES of each school. That policy has not changed. While fees have not yet been determined for 2017, the expectation is that increases will again average out at about 5% across our 150 schools. 

Please be assured of my continued commitment to ensuring that school fees and charges will always kept to as low as possible, without ever compromising the quality of the learning and support that our schools provide for their students.

If you have any questions about this matter, please contact your school.

All the very best for the term ahead

With warmest wishes

Dr Dan White







It was wonderful to see so many parents and family members at our two Academic Award ceremonies last week. It was a fitting acknowledgement of excellence in academic achievement and effort. In my Principal’s address, I asked the students to reflect on what may be holding them back.

As a tourist, I was amazed to see in Thailand that a group of beautiful elephants was being held by only a small rope tied to their front leg. There were no chains, no cages, just a short rope tethering each huge creature to a small stick in the ground.

It was obvious that the elephants could, at any time, break away from the rope but for some reason, they did not. I asked the trainer why the elephants just stood there and made no attempt to get away.

“It’s simple,” trainer said, “when they are very young and much smaller we use the same size rope to tie them and, at that age, it’s enough to hold them. They try and try to get free but cannot. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to escape.”

I was astonished. These enormous animals could at any time break free but because they believed they couldn’t, they were stuck right where they were.

What was the lesson for each of us at the award ceremonies?

How many of us, like the elephants, go through life believing that we cannot do something, simply because of something that we thought we learned when we were young?  How many of us have in our minds a short rope we could easily shake off?

How many of us are capable of far more than we ever dream of? What have the successful students here today done to achieve their dreams?

Success in any field, school included, doesn’t happen by chance. We can actually develop our brains so we will be ready to learn. What are the habits of mind that these students have employed that helped them succeed? Here are some of them:

  1. Successful students persist. They concentrate on the task and work on it until they have completed it successfully. They ask for help when they get stuck.
  2. Successful students have self-control. They act thoughtfully.
  3. Successful students listen with understanding. They are open to hearing another point of view.
  4. Successful students think flexibly. They are able to view a situation from many perspectives and their minds are open to change.
  5. Successful students use problem-solving and decision-making skills. They are able to make a plan, monitor their thinking, evaluate their progress and work out new ways to proceed and learn.
  6. Successful students strive for accuracy and precision. They know what level they need to reach and are not satisfied with sloppy work.
  7. Successful students ask questions. They are curious and seek evidence. They analyse ideas. They use lots of strategies to solve problems.
  8. Successful students think and communicate clearly and accurately, both in speech and in writing. They avoid dismissing new ideas.
  9. Successful students create, imagine and innovate. They look for different ideas and are able to think of original ideas of their own.
  10. Successful students respond with wonderment and awe. They are fascinated with the world around them and are open to discovering new things.
  11. Successful students co-operate. They know how to work together with others.
  12. Successful students are open to continual learning. They admit when they do not know something and are eager to find out. They are always growing and learning.

The questions I left the audience with is which habit  can we learn to help us progress in our learning?

Don’t be like the elephants in Thailand that I described held back by their own lack of self-belief.

Don’t be held back. Don’t be tethered in one place.

Believe in yourself.  You may be surprised by how far you can go.





Prayer for Father Jacques Hamel

The blood of martyrs is the seed of the church.

Rest in peace,

Holy Martyr Père Jacques Hamel.



Staff Changes

There have been a number of staff changes this term:

  • Mr Enoch To is our new Network Manager.  He is a much valued addition and has already been an enormous support to students and staff
  • Mrs Lynne Taylor is replacing Miss Robinson in her teaching classes all term
  • Miss Lara Grimm is Acting Year 10 Coordinator
  • Mrs Clare Moroney is Acting Year 11 Coordinator whilst Mr Donlan is on sick leave
  • Miss Kerry Harris is replacing Miss Mirabello whilst she is at WYD in Poland; and
  • Miss Kahlie Taouk is replacing Mr Curry whilst he is on Long Service Leave.


Community Prayers

We keep the following people in our prayers:

  • Carolina Perrino (11) whose grandmother recently passed away:
  • Georgia Bourtzos (7) whose 11 year old cousin Nicholas passed away during the school holidays


Our mantra:

“Girls can do anything.
Bethany girls can do everything!*
(*except divide by zero)”
Vicki Lavorato