Social Segregation in Australian Schools is Amongst the Highest in the World

A new report released by the OECD shows that social segregation in Australian schools is amongst the highest in the world. Australia has the 8th highest rate of social segregation out of 71 countries participating in the OECD’s Programme of International Students Assessments in 2015. Australia’s social segregation is also the 4th highest in the OECD.

This is one of the most alarming results to come out of PISA 2015. It shows that social apartheid is an enduring feature of Australia’s school system. Students are sharply divided by social class in schools. Other research shows staggering levels of ethnic and religious segregation in schools.

Social segregation in schools has dire consequences for education outcomes and the nature of our society. It is a key factor behind the high inequity in education in Australia as evidenced by the large achievement gaps between high socio-economic status (SES) students and low SES, Indigenous and remote area students. It allows privileged groups to maintain and enhance their advantages. It allows prejudice and social discrimination to hold sway.

School choice policies in Australia have compounded the effects of housing segregation. Government funding policies have fostered the expansion of private schools and have denuded many public schools of the resources they need to provide quality learning opportunities and outcomes for their students. Many advantaged families have abandoned their local public school in a search for better-resourced, high quality schools. The result has been an increasing concentration of disadvantaged students in some public schools and increasing concentration of advantaged students in others.

Governments must ensure that all schools are excellent schools. This requires increased funding for disadvantaged schools to provide them with the human and material resources necessary to provide high quality learning opportunities for their students. This can be financed by re-directing government funding from private schools whose total income exceeds that of public schools to disadvantaged public and private schools.

Ensuring that all local schools are excellent, well-resourced schools would reduce the incentive for families to look for more advantaged schools outside their local area. It would make for a better social mix of students in public schools. Continue reading “Social Segregation in Australian Schools is Amongst the Highest in the World”

Call to Change School Uniforms for Girls

Girls’ Uniform Agenda are leading a movement across Australia to challenge and change current school uniforms. Many schools across Australia, at both the primary and secondary level, require girls to wear dresses and skirts to school, and turning up in shorts or pants will see girls given detention. As girls wear shorts and pants in every other aspect of their lives in Australia, and boys wear shorts and pants to school, it is direct discrimination to refuse to allow them to wear shorts and pants to school because of their gender. Continue reading “Call to Change School Uniforms for Girls”

The Benefits of Socio-Economic and Racial Diversity in Schools

A newly published research brief shows the importance of school compositional effects on student outcomes. While it is based on studies conducted in the United States, the study has important implications for Australia. It shows that both socio-economic and racial diversity in schools are beneficial to students in terms of academic results and social understanding. It points to the importance of supporting socio-economically and racially diverse schools. Continue reading “The Benefits of Socio-Economic and Racial Diversity in Schools”

Effective Ways of Improving Achievement by Low SES Students

A major new meta-analysis of academic studies on ways to improve the school results of low socio-economic status (SES) students has identified several interventions that substantially improve achievement. They include small group tutoring, feedback and progress monitoring and co-operative learning in the classroom. Several other interventions also have smaller positive effects on achievement. Continue reading “Effective Ways of Improving Achievement by Low SES Students”

No Academic Benefit to Attending Partially Selective Schools

A new study shows that students who attend at partially selective schools in England do not achieve any better results than students in non-selective schools. It found that some results for students with high or low prior achievement are worse at partially selective schools than for their peers at non-selective schools. Continue reading “No Academic Benefit to Attending Partially Selective Schools”

Huge Disparities Between the Resources of Disadvantaged and Advantaged Schools

The latest report on Australia’s results in PISA 2015 shows huge disparities in shortages of educational staff and physical resources between advantaged and disadvantaged schools in Australia. It is more evidence of the need to improve the resourcing of disadvantaged schools and increase learning opportunities for their students. Continue reading “Huge Disparities Between the Resources of Disadvantaged and Advantaged Schools”

Tasmanian Governments Have Slashed Funding of Public Schools

The following is a report by Save Our Schools presented to the Tasmanian Branch of the Australian Education Union on the funding of public schools in Tasmania. It can be downloaded below.

Government funding of private schools in Tasmania has increased by seven times that for public schools in recent years. The Tasmanian Labor Government slashed state funding for public schools between 2009-10 and 2013-14 and the Liberal Government cut further in 2014-15. Overall, public school funding increased slightly but this was due to increased Commonwealth funding and it was far outstripped by a large increase in total government funding of private schools.

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Tax Concessions for the Wealthy Deny Adequate Funding for Disadvantaged Students

The Turnbull Government claims that the Budget deficit precludes fully funding the last two years of the Gonski plan. However, the latest Tax Expenditures Statement by the Federal Treasury shows that fully funding Gonski is easily affordable if the Government reduced tax concessions for wealthy. Its failure to do so shows that this Government continues to put the interests of the wealthy above those of disadvantaged students.

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Private School Vouchers Fail the Test

A new review of voucher programs in private schools has found that they have failed to make any significant improvements in student achievement, but add to the risks of increasing social segregation and the loss of a common, secular educational experience. It says that there are more effective ways of improving student results than by using voucher programs.

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The Barnett Govt Has Taken the Axe to WA Public Schools

The claims by the Western Australian Government that it has massively increased school funding in recent years are highly misleading. The fact is that the Barnett Government has taken to the axe to funding of public schools while boosting its funding of private schools. It has abandoned disadvantaged students, the vast majority of whom attend public schools.

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