Holy Cross College Ryde is now ranked among the Top 150 high schools in NSW following the release of the 2021 HSC results, climbing a staggering 176 places to 121st. 

It is also the second most improved school of the top 150 high schools in the state. 

“I knew we did well but we certainly weren’t expecting a ranking that high” – Principal Phillip Stewart  

The college’s 88 Year 12 students received 30 Distinguished Achievers awards. Distinguished Achievers lists the students who achieved a result in the highest band (Band 6 or Band E4) for one or more courses, not including results for courses studied external to their school, and together recorded 74 Band 6 scores.

At Holy Cross, 14.45% of results were in Band 6 – well above both the state median of 5.47% and the school’s 2020 success rate of 5.49%.

Also, half of all HSC exams completed by Holy Cross students resulted in a mark above 80.

It represents what has been described as the college’s best HSC year, a remarkable feat given the challenges that COVID-19 presented during the past two years.


Phillip Stewart, Principal of Holy Cross, said the entire school community was blown away by the efforts of the students.

“I knew we did well but we certainly weren’t expecting a ranking that high,” Mr Stewart said.

“I think these are the best results the college has ever received” – Phillip Stewart  

“I’m incredibly proud of the work that the students, together with the teachers and the parents, put into the Year 12 group,” Mr Stewart said.

“It was a very difficult year and the students showed great tenacity and grit. The results are extremely pleasing.”


Mr Stewart explained that the 2021 results were a culmination of years of targeted work and a carefully constructed approach to dealing with the disruptions of COVID-19.

“In the five years I’ve been here, this group is one of the groups that we’ve focused on in particular,” he said.

“During the lockdowns, we stuck to a particular timetable and when we brought the students back we had an intensive program of study in place to ensure that we knew exactly where they were going into the exams” – Phillip Stewart

“There was a big, big team approach amongst the students in the last few weeks in the lead up to the HSC and I think that we made the most of the extra time we were given,” Mr Stewart added.


Mr Stewart said Holy Cross staff put in a tremendous amount of work to help students realise their potential.

“I think the thing for us was the work that we did in interventions, and the efforts of the staff were extraordinary,” Mr Stewart said.

“The teachers were able to identify boys who were falling behind and we put intervention measures in place for them” – Phillip Stewart

Mr Stewart said teachers met with parents virtually over Zoom and also put together individualised programs for students to help them get back up to speed.

“I think the success of the story is in those boys who might have been on course for a Band 3 or Band 4 and ended up with a Band 5 or Band 6,” Mr Stewart said.

“That’s where the true success of the process is.”