Most Children Attend Their Neighbourhood School

Government claims that the neighbourhood school is obsolete and that most students do not attend their local school are refuted by the Government’s own enrolment data.

The Minister for Education has argued that large numbers of families have deserted the neighbourhood school.

…the majority of students now do not walk to school. Approaching 50 per cent of students in our public system in fact do not even attend their local school and go past often eight or ten other government schools to attend a particular school that their parents have chosen or that they have chosen. So I think it is already the case that parents and students are making the choice not to attend local schools. [Hansard, 16 August 2006]

The Minister has also argued that the neighbourhood school is a relic of the sixties and seventies and that it does not now reflect the modern day realities of Canberra and the way in which parents and students are making choices about which school to attend [Hansard, 16 August 2006].

These claims are incorrect. The Minister for Education has mislead the Legislative Assembly and the public about the extent to which students attend a government school other than their local school.

The fact is that the large majority of families continue to support their local school. According to 2006 enrolment data, 64 per cent of primary school students are attending their local neighbourhood school.

It is also relevant to note that in the secondary sector, 62 per cent of students attend their local high school and 63 per cent of college students attend their local college. These figures are similar to those of ten years ago; the high school figure is slightly down on that of 1996, while that for colleges has increased slightly.

Furthermore, only about half of the primary schools proposed for full closure retain less than 50 per cent of the resident PEA students. Several primary schools proposed for closure retain an above average proportion of resident PEA students: for example, Gilmore (66%), Giralang (70%) and Holt (67%).

Several of the schools that retain less than 50% of the resident PEA students meet particular needs of the local community in that they have a large proportion of low SES, Indigenous and SWD students: for example, Melrose, Mt. Neighbour, Rivett and Village Creek. Nearly all the schools proposed for part closure and which retain less than 50% of the resident PEA students also serve particular needs of the local community.

Thus, contrary to the claims of the ACT Government, the neighbourhood school still serves an important role in the local community and is supported by the large majority of families.

Trevor Cobbold

Noel Pearson’s Radical Hope for Education and Equality in Australia

In the latest issue of Quarterly Essay, Indigenous lawyer and activist, Noel Pearson, examines the long-term failure of educational policy in Australia, especially in the indigenous sector. He argues for an approach that delivers a rigorous schooling to Aboriginal students while preserving their culture.

Des Griffin reviews Pearson’s essay. Des is Gerard Krefft Fellow, an honorary position at the Australian Museum in Sydney of which he was Director from 1976 through 1998. Continue reading “Noel Pearson’s Radical Hope for Education and Equality in Australia”

ACARA Head Admits There is Little Evidence for Reporting School Results

There is little research evidence to show that reporting school results leads to better student performance according to Peter Hill, the newly-appointed chief executive of the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority. His admission is a fatal blow to the case for publishing school results. Continue reading “ACARA Head Admits There is Little Evidence for Reporting School Results”

League Tables Damned by Major UK Report

Friday October 23, 2009

Just as Australia is introducing reporting of school test results and the inevitable league tables that will follow, a major review of the primary curriculum in England has issued damning conclusions on the impact of standardized tests and league tables. Continue reading “League Tables Damned by Major UK Report”

Gillard Has Her Head in the Sand on Testing and Reporting

The education times are a-changing in the United States, but Julia Gillard is way behind the curve. Just as she embarks on her mission to transplant US style market-based education reforms in Australia their failure to deliver improved student outcomes is conceded by even their most trenchant advocates. Continue reading “Gillard Has Her Head in the Sand on Testing and Reporting”

Flynn considers further action on school closures

Following the scathing findings of the School Closure Inquiry, the Flynn Primary School Parents and Citizens Association is calling on the Greens to stand up for communities in the upcoming sittings of the Assembly, by supporting the re-opening of Flynn Primary School.

Continue reading “Flynn considers further action on school closures”

Student Results in Australia are High, but Very Unequal and not Improving

The latest results from the National Assessment Program for Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) generated a wave of self-congratulation from Education Ministers around Australia which should be qualified.

While student achievement remains high, there has been little improvement in recent years and there is a large gap in the results of rich and poor students. Reducing this gap is the greatest challenge facing Australian education. Continue reading “Student Results in Australia are High, but Very Unequal and not Improving”

School Closure Report Fails to Deliver

The Education Committee of the ACT Legislative Assembly has delivered a weak-kneed report on school closures. It has failed to deliver a better process for considering school closure proposals in the future. It has dashed the hopes and expectations of many for a better approach. Continue reading “School Closure Report Fails to Deliver”