12 October 2022

From The Age Education Editorial - By Mr Leon Furze, Director Learning and Teaching.

Across Australia, schools, tertiary institutions and businesses are leading dramatic changes to the education system.

Following extended periods of remote learning, and through processes such as the Australian Curriculum review and efforts by universities and schools, how students are assessed – and why – is being examined. But parents are often the last to know about these changes, and as educators our role is to support them.

The University of Melbourne’s New Metrics for Success partnership connects schools across Australia with academics and industry to create robust, validated assessments for skills beyond those ordinarily valued in education. Aspects such as “character”, “connectedness” and “ethics” – considered vital 21st-century skills – are being mapped out and tested for inclusion in learner profiles, which show the full picture of a student beyond the traditional school benchmarks of curriculum knowledge.

The university’s work mirrors other efforts across Australia, including the South Australian Certificate of Education’s learner profiles, which will be accepted alongside the ATAR, and Big Picture Education Australia’s International Big Picture Learning Credential, which supplants the ATAR. Even the Australian Curriculum, which has come under fire in the past for its bloated and outdated curriculum, has been open to public review, with parents and community encouraged to give their opinions ready for updates in early 2022.

But many principals and school leaders still experience pushback from parents when they try to shift away from traditional pathways. The Education Council’s 2020 report Looking to the Future, with research from youth non-profit Year 13, shows students seek career and pathway advice from parents, friends and online searches before careers advisers and schools.

Many parents’ concerns about senior education are still dominated by the narrative of the ATAR, and some are opposed to efforts by schools that are perceived to have a negative impact on VCE and HSC results. Yet the same report highlights that as long ago as 2014, only 31 per cent of tertiary entrants nationwide were selected based on their ATAR.

Shifting the narrative of education away from outdated ideas about assessment, knowledge and the dominance of the ATAR is complex work.

“Changing the grammar of education,” as the New Metrics project puts it, is not possible without the support and understanding of the parent community. Giving parents access to the curriculum review – including the updated general capabilities, which reflect many of the skills in the various learner profiles – is a good start. But schools and universities alike should be held accountable for perpetuating the ATAR myth, and information to parents needs to be made clear.

Until parents, teachers and school and tertiary leaders communicate effectively about processes such as the ATAR and the importance of more comprehensive learner profiles, the Australian education system will be stuck in a vicious cycle where students are put under undue pressure to perform. For their sake, it’s time we had that conversation.

Leon Furze is director of learning and teaching at Monivae College and a consultant at the University of Melbourne. This article first appeared in The Age 11 October 2021


21 July 2022


After reviewing emerging educational trends, the current needs of students and the necessity to ‘future ready’ them for an increasingly changing employment market, Monivae College today announced a raft of significant changes. 

The changes will support greater pathway options, improved Year 9 to 12 academic and Cadet programs, and a introduce a new and inspiring curriculum. These pathway options have been designed to support every student to achieve and become their very best.

New Curriculum – Foundation and new elective subjects will be complemented by an innovative program for Year 9 called startUp. This will provide vital entrepreneurial and 21st century skills. A new Ignite program allows students in Years 10-12, to apply for mentorship and the opportunity to pursue a small business or passion project. Students in Year 12 will be able to fast track by undertaking university study while still at Monivae.  Dozens of new electives ranging from Podcasting to Design a Skateboard to Forensics are among those on offer.

Vocational and Educational Training (VET) - Year 10s can access accelerated VCE and VET courses leading to apprenticeships and post-school employment. Some students may opt to complete a combination of VCE and VET subjects. This revised structure allows for a great level of flexibility for students.

Monivae College Sports Academy (MCSA) - Offered to students in Year 9 for the first time in 2022, this program allows eligible students to develop their skills and knowledge to achieve at elite levels in either Cricket or Basketball, with dedicated time within their timetable for specialist coaching and training.

Cadets – Monivae’s highly regarded cadet program continues to provide opportunities to build self- confidence, work as part of a team, to be proactive and demonstrate leadership qualities from Year 8 onwards. In 2022, Cadets will be extended to offer leadership opportunities through to Year 12.

When discussing shift from the traditional ‘grammar of teaching’, Mr Jonathan Rowe, Principal said “This is not a revolution, but an evolution in the life and rich history of Monivae College. It represents once-in-a-generation renewal that will enable the College to continue to build its future focused vision, to meet and exceed the challenges of our changing world and to continue to deliver an exceptional MSC education.”

15 June 2021

Monivae - more than a study score.

....progressive schools need to move away from the 'grammar of schooling'

Last year gave us the time, motivation and opportunity to reflect on the way education is delivered. At Monivae College, Mr Leon Furze, Director of Learning and Teaching recognised that progressive schools need to move away from the traditional ‘grammar of schooling’. Working with Principal Mr Jonathan Rowe and the Monivae leadership team, Mr Furze used the opportunity to start a process of transformative change to Monivae’s curriculum. 

The first step was to join The University of Melbourne’s collaborative research project, New Metrics for Success, which is designed to address the problems faced by Australian students now and into the future. “It was a real thrill to be recognised by Melbourne Uni to be one of the most forward-thinking schools in Australia” Mr Furze said. “New Metrics for Success connects Monivae College with academic and international experts to reimagine the future of schooling.” 

The New Metrics for Success project is led by faculty members of the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, including Enterprise Professor Sandra Milligan. Explaining the motivation behind the project, Prof Milligan said: "The distinctive 20th century version of schooling - with its age-based year levels, standardised testing, exams and timetables organised around short classes in subject areas - is past its used-by date" 

“Monivae College recognises that our students are more than just a study score. For many of our students, the ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank) is the only measure of success. Yet a great number of our students achieve success elsewhere, through vocational courses, employment outside of school, and the great work they do in their communities.” Mr Furze added. “We believe that these successes are just as valid as the ATAR, and we are working with the tertiary sector and industry to explore new ways of guaranteeing our students the pathway they choose when they finish their schooling at Monivae College.” 

Over the course of the year, the New Metrics for Success project will inform Monivae’s strategic planning and the development of the new curriculum. For more information click here

Image (L-R) Mr Leon Furze & Mr Jonathan Rowe