School Closures Under Challenge

School closures continue to be a hot issue around Australia as communities question government programs to close schools and set up super schools.

Parents and teachers have expressed concern at the pressure put on schools to merge by governments. Governments appear to be using Federal economic stimulus funds and Building the Education Revolution to put pressure on smaller schools to close or merge.

Generally, governments are failing to consider the educational and social impacts of closing and merging schools. Selling off closed school sites to gain more revenue seems to be the main priority of governments.

Continue reading “School Closures Under Challenge”

Reporting School Results Does Greater Harm Than Good

A sense of righteous outrage has pervaded some responses to the decision of the NSW upper house of Parliament to prohibit published comparisons of school results. Some of it has bordered on the hysterical. Federal Education Minister, Julia Gillard, called it “ridiculous” and “crazy”.

What is ridiculous is the intransigence of the Federal Education Minister and her State and Territory counterparts in proceeding with reporting school results, and the inevitable league tables that will follow, without proper consideration of the harm it will do to students and the school system overall. Continue reading “Reporting School Results Does Greater Harm Than Good”

Labor’s Deception on School League Tables

Australian Labor Governments have duped parents and teachers about the introduction of school league tables. The publication of school league tables by the Hobart Mercury and the Brisbane Courier-Mail last May shows what we can expect from now on. Soon, there will be a national league table and each state and territory will have its own table. Continue reading “Labor’s Deception on School League Tables”

Encouraging Students to Stay Away on Test Day is a Rort to Increase School Test Scores

Last week many schools bent the rules by encouraging parents of some low achieving students to stay home during the NAPLAN tests. The revelations show that some schools see that a key way to improving test scores is to restrict the participation of low achieving students in the tests because they reduce a school’s test scores. In this, they are following well-established practice used overseas where league tables of school results are published. Continue reading “Encouraging Students to Stay Away on Test Day is a Rort to Increase School Test Scores”

More Training and Support is Needed for Parent Participation in Schools

Parent participation in schooling makes an important contribution to better student outcomes at school and it is critical to ensuring that schools that are responsive to community needs. But, it is in decline in the ACT and something drastic needs to be done to renew it.

The answer is not to pay parents to sit on school boards as proposed by the ACT Minister for Education, Andrew Barr. This idea should be rejected out of hand. What is needed is a greater government commitment to parent participation and more training and support for parents to participate in schools.

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SOS Presentation to the ACT Legislative Assembly Inquiry on School Closures

The following statement was made by SOS Convenor, Trevor Cobbold, on 29 April to the Education Committee of the Legislative Assembly public hearing on the Towards 2020 school closure process.

Save Our Schools welcomes the opportunity to present our submission to the inquiry. This inquiry is of critical importance. It is important that the Legislative Assembly and the public learn from the failures of the Towards 2020 process. Changes are needed to the Education Act to ensure that these failures do not happen again in the future. Continue reading “SOS Presentation to the ACT Legislative Assembly Inquiry on School Closures”

More Evidence that Gillard’s Faith in Competition is Misplaced

Just as John Howard and David Kemp did, Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard have placed their faith in competition to improve school performance. This faith is proving entirely misplaced with many recent studies around the world showing that competition and markets in education fail to improve student performance and create greater social segregation between schools. Continue reading “More Evidence that Gillard’s Faith in Competition is Misplaced”

The Free Market and the Social Divide in Education

The Federal Government’s approach to education is fatally contradictory.

Extending the market in education and improving social equity are incompatible policies.

Inevitably, it is equity which loses out, as it has in England and the US. Instead of improving student achievement, market-oriented school systems lead to greater social segregation and exacerbate achievement gaps in schooling.

These are among the conclusions of a research paper by SOS’s Trevor Cobbold. Continue reading “The Free Market and the Social Divide in Education”