Students from disadvantaged schools did as well as those from other government and private schools in first-year subjects at the University of Sydney last year and actually did better than students from all other schools, excluding government selective schools.
The crucial role of Green and independent support for the new Gillard minority government has created a window of opportunity for a serious effort to close the huge achievement gaps in our schools and improve equity in education. The focus should be to address the large burden of education disadvantage carried by government schools.
The children’s charity, Bernado’s says that impenetrable “clusters of privilege” are forming around the best state schools in England. In a report released last week, Bernado’s says that privileged children are monopolising the top state schools in England and poorer families are losing out in a complex and unfair system.
The massive achievement gap between rich and poor is the biggest challenge facing Australian education today. Australia has amongst the best results in the world, but also a very large achievement gap between rich and poor.
Chris Bonnor, co-author of The Stupid Country, and Professor Richard Teese from Melbourne University have raised the spectre of increasing social segregation in Australia’s schools Sydney Morning Herald, 5 July and 8 July]. They have pointed to the increasing social division as more students from richer families attend private and selective government schools while low income students attend other government schools. Australian education is under threat from increasing “social and academic apartheid” according to Bonnor.
A new report published in the US this week highlights a major problem that will come to the fore in Australia with the publication of school league tables. This is the tendency to blame schools for low levels of student achievement and gaps between rich and poor students without regard to factors outside schools that continually impact on student achievement.
A new report by the Victorian Auditor-General on literacy and numeracy achievement in Victorian government schools has cast more light on the achievement gaps between students.
It shows very large achievement gaps between high-achieving and low-achieving students, between students from rich and poor families and between regions in Victoria. It also shows that these achievement gaps have not reduced over the past 10 years.
The recent report of the NSW Auditor-General on improving literacy and numeracy in NSW government schools reveals massive achievement gaps between students from rich and poor families and between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students.
It shows that the NSW Government has made little to no progress since 1999 in meeting its commitment under the National Goals for Schooling that learning outcomes of disadvantaged students match those of other students.
This paper, by Trevor Cobbold, was delivered to the Education Summit in Sydney in June 2008.
It argues that choice has failed the promise of its advocates to improve education outcomes and that it has not only deflected education systems from dealing with the major challenge of inequity in education, but has exacerbated inequity. Continue reading “Choice or Equity in Education?”
Trevor Cobbold, spokesman for Save Our Schools, recently delivered an address to a forum on the future of public education in the ACT sponsored the ACT Public Education Alliance. The address makes four key points:
- The ACT schools system has very high quality outcomes, with little difference between the government and private sectors, especially when the different social composition of the sectors is taken into account.
- School outcomes in the ACT are not improving and, indeed, have declined in some areas over the period of the Stanhope Government.
- There is extensive individual and social inequity in ACT school outcomes with a large achievement gap between students from low and high income families.
- There is increasing social segregation in the ACT school system that is reflected in the ongoing drift of enrolments to the private system.
The paper also canvasses some broad policy proposals to address key weaknesses in the ACT school system.School Outcomes in the ACT - 2008