close icon

Development   /  Vicki O'Neill

More Than A Number

Did you get a final score in secondary school and did it affect your working life? Are we more than a number?


Impact areas




  • DIRECTOR Vicki O'Neill

  • PRODUCER Vicki O'Neill



The feature length documentary "More Than A Number" (in development), examines the rote memorization methodology of schooling and the outcome when all this culminates with one score that defines 13 years of school.

It’s the morning ATAR scores will be received by all year 12 students in Victoria. Jordy has recently decided on a course she wants to study and she needs a 75-80 score. Nervously she checks her phone to receive her score. It’s nowhere near the score she needs and it’s devastation all around. Jack is currently debating if he actually needs an ATAR score at all since his dream is to become a musician. Jack will go on a reconnaissance mission to explore the alternatives available to him and along the way he will talk to fellow students who will explain how the stress of exams has affected their mental health.

More Than A Number will seek out innovators in education in order to provide alternative solutions to the current system and explore new pathways in education.

Support this project

0% funded
  • $150,000.00

  • $0.00

  • June 2020

  • 0

Minimum amount is $ Maximum amount is $




Issue Summary

A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing

Less than 30% of University entries are based on ATAR scores, so why do we place so much importance on achieving that elusive number? So much so, that our youth are suffering mental health issues in an effort to pursue unachievable scores, they are put under pressure by parents, teachers and peers when majority of times the subjects they are studying are inappropriate and not conducive to gaining meaningful employment into the next decade. The unemployment rates for youth 18-25 are on the rise because they don’t have the skills required for the digital age.


What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?

Students are taught how to pass exams instead of gaining knowledge. Our aim is to show Students, Parents, Teachers and decision makers alternative, innovative ways to educate and explore new pathways to gain meaningful employment.

This film will expose how archaic our current secondary school practices are and we ask experts how we can revolutionise education. We will endeavor to create a wonderful growth experience for our youth.


What outcomes does the project hope to achieve from making this documentary?

We hope to make parents aware, that pushing their children to succeed through the current system is not the only way.

The ultimate aim is to abolish ATAR as a method of ranking students. Identify and reveal the alternative ways to become educated.

Make students aware that there are more opportunities than just aiming for a score in a world where more diversified skills will be required.

Convince government bodies that the need for innovative education is urgent and needs more focused attention.


How will this documentary achieve its outcomes?

By choosing appropriate subjects who may have been struggling with typical schooling and guiding them through student led learning or hands on/mentored learning, our audience can see that alternative methods of teaching that engage and inspire students is the way to create opportunities for growth.

We are currently curating a list of potential viewing partners which will include universities, tafes, secondary schools etc. and along with FYA we'll aim to target appropriate screenings and learning opportunities, through educative toolkits.


How will partnerships with this project help inform the project development?

We are partnering with Foundation for Youth Australia, who’s motto is “Youth speaking for Youth. We are both in agreement that showing the issues our youth are facing and showing alternative methods of education, such as student led learning and opportunities via VCAL, (which is expanding in it’s variety) they can access focused training.

Also liasing with Templestowe College who are the leader in student led learning, we can learn from their examples of forward thinking in this area.

We are reaching out to Big Picture Schooling who's philosophy is ‘One student at a time in a community of learners’.

Megan O'Connell is an Education Consultant who has her finger on the pulse of current education issues and ways to solve them shown on a recent paper she has issued with thoughts on how to abolish ATAR and similar scoring systems.

We are also in communication with Teach for Australia.

Audience Engagement and Social Impact

What actions does this project hope for its viewers after seeing this film?

Teachers may use the film as evidence to convince their leaders that we must innovate if we are to tackle the future job requirements.

We can help government bodies see the way of the future and help to speed up a revolution in education policy.

Universities will recognise the need for change in the way they admit students. The statistics tell us that only 30% of entries (and declining) are based on ATAR so the need for alternative methods is apparent.

We will encourage viewers of the documentary to join forces, via a task force group which will guide them to action plans.

Measurement and Evaluation

What is the projects indicators for success?

We can gauge our success by reversing statistics in the areas of 18-24 unemployment, psychological distress and our world ranking in education. We will also run a strategic campaign utilising on line and in person surveys. Collect data from traffic to our website and other social media.