MAITLAND Grossmann High's focus on the provision of formative feedback and developing strong relationships between teachers and students has been credited as driving its stellar performance in this year's Higher School Certificate (HSC).
It had one of the Hunter's biggest jumps up the list of schools ranked by HSC performance, rising 94 places to 252nd this year, out of more than 650 schools.
Relieving principal Josh Gane said the school was "really happy with our results".
"Our biggest focus of all is professional learning for staff," Mr Gane said.
"We have four pillars of practice for staff; knowing students; engaging in class; differentiation, so making work accessible no matter what level to ensure there isn't rote learning and they're not doing work they're finding too easy; and providing formative feedback that is directed to the child about their own performance and skillset, not generalised feedback."
Mr Gane said developing relationships with students was crucial to fostering a positive learning experience in class.
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"They're not going to learn from you if they don't like you," he said.
"It's about having mutual respect and understanding and students knowing teachers are here to help them grow.
"We treat each other with dignity and respect and tolerance."
Mr Gane said the school had established a senior study hub in the library, where a teacher works with students during their study periods.
"If they drop or discontinue a subject we build this into their timetable so they don't play handball, they come in and a full time staff member works with them on preparation."
Mr Gane said the school also spent "considerable time" interviewing senior students and their parents about subject choices to ensure they were "aligned and suitable for their academic level".
He said this year's student cohort was strong.
The number of band sixes was up 65 per cent compared to last year.
"We had significant growth in performance against the state across a range of subjects," he said.
"Maths produced the highest marks and results, particularly in the extension courses."
A number of students achieved high Australian Tertiary Admission Ranks, including Isabella Pearson with 96.6, Josiah Murray with 93.9, April Rose with 93.4, William Penfold with 93.3, Charlene Kwok with 92.85 and Rory Owen with 92.2.
The state's top 150 schools included Merewether High at 49th; Newcastle Grammar at 55th; Hunter Valley Grammar School at 118th; and Hunter School of the Performing Arts (HSPA) at 131st.
Other Hunter schools to see their rankings lift included Macquarie College, which rose 77 places to land at 199th.
Belmont High rose 112 places to 330th. Irrawang High rose 99 places to 464th. Muswellbrook High rose 83 places to 416th. Swansea High rose 73 places to 493rd.
Bishop Tyrrell Anglican College rose 52 places to 413th. Dungog High rose 48 places to 300th. Northlakes High rose 46 places to 492nd. St Clare's High at Taree rose 25 places to 344th. Kotara High rose 24 places to 306th.
The Hunter was a strong presence on the NSW Education Standards Authority's merit lists.
The region had 10 boys and nine girls on the Top Achievers list and 16 boys and 14 girls on the All-Round Achievers list.
HSPA's Hamish Lewis received the highest ATAR possible, 99.95.