Victorian Private Schools Profited Millions from Jobkeeper

Forty Victorian private schools raked in $135 million in Jobkeeper payments in 2020 while making profits of $96 million. Twenty of the most privileged schools in the state got $94 million and made profits totalling $71 million. Just six of these raked in over $57 million and made nearly $30 million in profits. Nearly all increased their profits over the previous year with the help of Jobkeeper.

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Question Mark Over the Accuracy and Reliability of PISA Tests

The OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) has extraordinary status and influence. It is seen as the gold standard for assessing the performance of education systems, but it is a castle built on sand. New data published by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) call into question the accuracy and reliability of PISA and its league tables of country results.

The new figures show that nearly three-quarters of Australian students didn’t fully try on the PISA 2018 tests. The ACER research found that “…the majority of Australian students (73%) indicated that they would have invested more effort if the PISA test counted towards their marks”.

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Nobel Prize Committee Says Money Matters in Education

In awarding the Nobel Prize for Economics in 2021, the Prize Committee said that there is strong empirical proof that money matters in education. This is an incredibly significant statement from a notoriously conservative institution. It represents a new consensus that has developed in recent years that more spending on education can increase school outcomes and future earnings, especially for disadvantaged students.

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Misguided policies directly causing remote Indigenous students’ poor school attendance and literacy, and rising incarceration rates

The following is a media reslease from the Australian Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) in the Northern Territory. It summaries a submission to the Inquiry on Adult Literacy conducted by the Senate Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training.

Misguided Commonwealth and NT Government policies are directly contributing to remote Indigenous students’ falling school attendance and abysmal literacy levels, according to two scathing submissions by a teachers’ organisation to a current federal Parliamentary Inquiry.

“Applying the same education policies to students who are culturally and linguistically different doesn’t result in equity,” said Fran Murray, the ATESOL NT representative to the Australian Council of TESOL Associations. “In fact, it’s widening the gap, not closing it.”

The submissions explain why Closing the Gap targets for Indigenous education are increasingly out of reach: remote schools are in crisis. Meanwhile, the number of Indigenous young people in NT prisons has doubled in the past year.

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Wealthy Schools Pocket Millions in JobKeeper Funds Despite Profits

Blessed are the rich for they shall inherit more and more, especially if they are already wealthy private schools. New figures show that 700 private schools, including many of Australia’s most exclusive private schools, raked in $750 million in Jobkeeper payments despite many simultaneously running surpluses of millions. It is icing on the cake of the billions in over-funding provided under Morrison’s special deals for private schools.

The average payment was over $1 million per school. School financial statements lodged with the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission show that many elite schools got millions more than this while making profits and some even increased their profits with the help of Jobkeeper.

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Money Still Matters in Education

A new study published by the US National Bureau of Economic Research shows that money still matters in education. It found that school finance reforms in the US that increased expenditure in low income school districts increased high school completion and college entrance among Black students and females as well as increasing annual earnings.

We find that school finance reforms lead to increases in educational attainment and in mean earnings. These results hold when we consider the full state population, but we generally find larger effects for Black than for white students….We also find some evidence that effects are larger for female students. [p. 5]

The study analysed the impact of what are known as “adequacy”-based school finance reforms implemented since 1990. Courts in many US states have ruled that state constitutions require adequacy in school funding. This led to increased expenditure in disadvantaged school districts above the state average to compensate for the increased costs of educating children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

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A Review of the Gonski School Funding Inquiry and Report

The following is the Conclusion of a new working paper published by Save Our Schools. It provides a comprehensive review of the Gonski inquiry and its report on school funding in Australia. The full paper can be downloaded below. Comments on the paper are invited. Notification of issues not covered and mistakes of fact, analysis and interpretation will be appreciated. Please excuse any remaining typos and repetitions. Comments can be sent to the Save Our Schools email address: saveourschools690@gmail.com

The Gonski Report was a watershed in the history of school funding in Australia. It changed the whole focus of school funding from choice under the Howard Government’s SES model to making equity in education the centrepiece of education policy. It made the biggest commitment to improving equity in education in the history of school funding in Australia.

The strength of the Report was that it recognised the problem of disadvantage in Australian schooling and made serious recommendations about future funding to reduce disadvantage. It made several contributions to the development of a more equitable school funding system.

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OECD Says Publication of School Results Has Failed to Improve School Performance

Test-based accountability has been a key education policy in most OECD countries, including Australia, for many years. It was believed that publication of school test results would put pressure on schools and teachers to increase student achievement. A new OECD study shows this policy is an abject failure. It found no evidence that test-based accountability has affected education outcomes in higher income countries.

Our results suggest that across most OECD countries test-based accountability does not relate to academic achievement, nor has a substantial impact on educational inequality for the subject of mathematics. With some small variations we achieved similar results for the subjects of reading and science. [p. 25]

The findings have important implications for policy makers in higher income countries:

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Understanding equity in education: New article

Press Release by MCERA on 14 July 2021

The World Bank,  the OECD and the United Nations recently recognised educational inequity as a growing global challenge. But what does educational equity look like and how is it achieved?

“All children have a right to high quality education. This basic principle is stated in international agreements and national education laws. UN’s Sustainable Development Goals expect that the member states “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. In many countries, including in Australia, this goal has become harder to reach.

“Refocusing education policies and leadership on equity, as has happened in Australia and in many other OECD countries, will have little real impact on education systems performance unless policymakers have much better common understanding of what equity in education means and why it is an important part of leading successful education systems,” Professor Sahlberg said.

Sahlberg and Cobbold propose that equity in education comprise both an individual and a social group aspect. 

All children should receive at least a minimum standard of education that enables them to make their own way in adult society while children from different social groups should achieve similar education outcomes. “Our aim is to give an operational definition of equity in education. This is necessary to better guide the development of education policymaking, especially as it relates to equity and its implementation by school leaders and achieving consistent approaches to improving equity in education.”

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Private Schools Brawl to Get Their Snouts Deeper in the Funding Trough

An ABC 7.30 Report last week exposed another brawl between private schools to get their snouts deeper in the school funding trough. A coalition of Independent schools complained they are disadvantaged by the Morrison Government’s new funding model because their funding increase is not as big as others. They want yet another special deal from the Morrison Government as do many other Independent schools.

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