The Bureaucratisation of Public Education in Australia

The following is a summary of a research paper on the bureaucratisation of public education in Australia. It can be downloaded below. As far as we are aware, this study is the first to use data published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics to analyse the impact of school accountability measures on the staffing structure of the public education system.

Australia has long been infected by what world renowned Finnish educator Pasi Sahlberg, currently professor of education at the Gonski Institute of Education in Sydney, coined as GERM (Global Education Reform Movement). It is characterised by corporate management policies, test-based accountability of schools and fostering competition between schools to drive improvement in education outcomes. One manifestation of GERM is a bloated bureaucracy to police compliance with regulations, collect and record information and monitor performance.

Public school systems in Australia have seen an enormous increase in bureaucracy since the turn of the century. So-called school reforms beginning in the 1990s promised less bureaucratic control but instead have intensified bureaucracy at all levels of public education systems. Both Coalition and Labor governments have adopted GERM and expanded bureaucracy in public education.

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New Review of Evidence That Increased Education Spending Leads to Improved Outcomes

A new paper published by the US Century Foundation reviews studies of two school finance reforms in the US that proved effective at improving student outcomes, especially in low-income and previously lower-spending schools. The two reforms reviewed are new school funding formulae introduced in Massachusetts in 1993 and in California in 2013. Both reforms were based on the principle that school districts serving higher need children require not the same, but more resources per student.

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Catholic School Systems Required to be More Transparent About How They Use Taxpayer Funds

Catholic school systems have been diverting taxpayer funding for schools in poor areas to schools in wealthy inner suburbs for years. Many official and other reports have documented this unethical and unchristian practice. It may at last be about to change.

Catholic and other private schools systems will placed under greater public scrutiny as a result of a new report by the National School Resourcing Board (NSRB). The Commonwealth Government has accepted its recommendations that private school systems disclose more information on how they distribute government funding to their schools.

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Public Schools Face a Funding Crisis; Private Schools Are in Clover

Government funding increases continue to massively favour private schools over public schools according to new figures published by the Australian Curriculum, Reporting and Assessment Authority (ACARA). As a result, Catholic and Independent schools are far better resourced than public schools in every state even though public schools enrol over 80% of all disadvantaged students and 95% of all disadvantaged schools are public schools. This funding trend is set to continue under current funding arrangements and more special deals for private schools from the Morrison Government. This is a recipe for continuing educational, social and economic inequality.

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Funding, Enrolments and Staffing in NSW Public Schools

The following is a summary of a submission to the Independent Inquiry on the Teaching Profession in NSW Public Schools. The full submission can be downloaded below.

The NSW public education system has undergone a huge expansion in bureaucracy since 2003. There was a massive increase in administrative staff in schools and in central and regional offices that is many times greater than the increase in students. Yet, there was only a very small increase in inflation-adjusted funding per student despite a large increase in disadvantaged students. Expanding the bureaucracy was prioritised over funding classroom learning and support. As one former principal told Save Our Schools, it reflects an “increase in roles orchestrating compliance not teaching, learning and curriculum”.

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Turnbull Exposes Rorting of School Funding by Catholic Church

In his recently published memoirs, Malcolm Turnbull thoroughly exposes the hypocrisy of Catholic education authorities in diverting taxpayer funding intended for poor schools to subsidise rich inner-city schools. In doing so, he exposed his own hypocrisy by allowing them to continue to do so under his Gonski 2.0 funding model.

Turnbull says:

I felt too many of the Church leaders were more interested in defending their system and resisting accountability than in fulfilling Jesus’ mission to the poor.

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Private School Vouchers Don’t Improve Student Achievement

The US public school advocacy organisation Public Funds, Public Schools has published a review of recent studies of vouchers in the US. The studies show that private school vouchers have not improved student achievement and have multiple negative effects including exacerbating social segregation in schools. The findings on student achievement are reproduced below. The full review is available here.

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Too Many Classes are Taught by Out-of-Field Teachers

Many Year 10 students in Australia are being taught key subjects by unqualified teachers according to a major new study. It found that 15.5% of Year 10 classes are being taught by teachers out of their field of expertise. Twenty per cent of mathematics classes and 21% of English classes are taught out-of-field. The study found that 12.5% of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) classes are being taught out-of-field. This is likely an under-estimate because of inadequate data on science teaching.

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New Study Shows that the Social Composition of Schools Strongly Influences School Results

There is extensive research evidence of the impact of family background on student results. Many studies from the United States, the United Kingdom, the OECD and Australia also show a school socio-economic composition (SEC) effect whereby students attending schools with a high concentration of students from poor families tend to have lower results than students from similar backgrounds attending schools with higher proportions of students from well-off backgrounds.

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