Personal best ranks high

Two students from St Kevin’s Primary School, Cardiff, have achieved outstanding results in recent local and international school competitions. 

“They were ecstatic,” Principal Mary-Anne Jennings said of the boys’ reactions.

Year 2 student Grady Platt sat three subjects for the International Competitions and Assessments for Schools (ICAS), generally known as the University of New South Wales competitions. ICAS is a collection of tests and assessments covering six subjects including English, Mathematics, Science, Computer Skills, Reading and Writing.

“There is a cost for parents and they nominate what they want their children to sit. It’s not compulsory and we don’t prepare them for the test,” Mary-Anne explained.

“It’s all reliant on what they’ve done as part of their holistic education at school and hopefully that will be reflected when they sit down to do these external exams,” she said.

Each subject contains a different number of tests, for example Mathematics has eleven tests while Computer Skills has eight.

From the suite of subjects available, Grady sat for Science in June, English in July and Maths in August.

When he received his results he felt great.

“I got a high distinction in Science and English and a distinction in Maths.”

Mary-Anne said Grady was very excited about getting a high distinction as it meant that he was in the top one per cent of participants.

“We went ‘wow’. Then we got notification that he’d won the medal for Science and we went ‘wow wow’. So not only was he in the top one per cent in Science, he was also the State and ACT winner.”

Grady received a medal and medal winner’s certificate during the ICAS Medal Presentation Ceremony at the University of NSW.

He plans to sit again next year and is determined “to get a HD in everything”.

“I like doing tests, I find it fun.”

Ben Lerch, St Kevin’s Maths wizard and 2014 Lake Macquarie Award recipient of Newcastle Permanent’s annual Mathematics Competition, also enjoys tests.

“I like to challenge myself. At the end of the test I thought I went well but I didn't think I’d make it so far. I came 12th out of 7,960 people,” the Year 5 student said.

Almost 20,000 Year 5 and 6 students from over 300 schools take the 45-minute multiple-choice paper, putting their mathematical abilities and problem-solving skills to the test.  

The Maths wizard, whose favourite Maths subject is Roman numerals, followed by long multiplication, was “very impressed” with his result.

“My ultimate goal next year is to get in the top ten. My super ultimate ultimate goal would be to come first.”

Mary-Anne said the students didn't get nervous before the test because their focus was on competing against themselves.  

“They take it in their stride. They see it as a challenge and want to show what they can do. The bonus was achieving such a high standard against other people. They’re more interested in their personal best than their ranking.”

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Siobhan McAlary

Siobhan is a regular contributor to Aurora Magazine.

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