A Message of Support From Save Our Schools

Save Our Schools has sent a message of support to the Hemmant school community in Brisbane who are fighting against their school closing.

Hemmant is a small school of 90 students supported by a very committed parent community. The Queensland Minister for Education wants to combine it with up to 4 other primary schools into one with over 900 enrolments. The school has been the hub of the community for 144 years with all buildings heritage listed. It appears that the Government wants to sell off the land. Continue reading “A Message of Support From Save Our Schools”

False Claims by Minister on ACT Budget

The ACT Government has claimed that it is increasing per capita funding for government schools in 2008–09 by 8% in real terms (that is, adjusted for inflation) and total real funding by 6%, contrary to the figures provided in its own budget papers.

The claims are made in a paper selectively circulated by the Minister for Education, Andrew Barr, which purports to refute the analysis of the schools Budget published by Save Our Schools. Evidently, the Government has been stung by criticism of the Schools Budget by SOS.

The Minister’s claims are false. At best, there is no increase in real funding available for government schools in 2008-09. In fact, real funding is likely to decline. The mistakes in the paper reflect either deliberate misinformation or extraordinary ignorance about the Budget Papers. Continue reading “False Claims by Minister on ACT Budget”

False Claims by Minister on ACER Report

The Minister for Education, Andrew Barr, claimed last week that the report on student performance commissioned from the Australian Educational Research Council (ACER) shows that “our lowest socio-economic students performed better than their counterparts anywhere else in Australia” [ABC News, 26 March 2008]. He also made a similar claim in a media release on the report.

This claim is false. The ACER report clearly shows that 15 year old students from the lowest socio-economic status (SES) levels do no better than those in at least several other states.

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A High Quality, Low Equity and Socially Segregated School System

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.

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Proposed ACT Schools Standards Authority

The ACT Minister for Education has released a discussion paper on the establishment of an ACT Schools Standards Authority. The proposal is to expand the function of the Board of Senior Secondary Studies to be responsible for establishing and monitoring educational standards from pre-school to Year 12. This could include teacher registration, curriculum frameworks, student achievement standards, registration of private schools and home education. The Authority could also have overarching responsibilities for monitoring the general standards of schooling in the ACT.

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Schools sacrificed because Government has misled the public

Today Cook and Village Creek Primary Schools closed their doors for the last time. Kambah High School was closed to make way for a P-10 ‘super school’ to be built on the site.

Parents and children at the three schools are having their lives disrupted and face higher financial costs all because the ACT Government misled the public.

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Addressing the Social Divide in Education

A new report just published by the UK charity, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, has highlighted need to address the educational divide. It shows that children growing up in poverty and disadvantage are less likely to do well at school. Family disadvantage is passed on from one generation to the next in a cycle of underachievement. The report says that the attitudes and experiences that lie behind social differences in education need to be addressed to break this cycle.

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Economists Say Budget Surplus is Unjustified

Several well-known economists have criticised the large Budget surplus recorded by the ACT Government. They have accused the Government of poor economic management and they all say that the Government should be spending some of the surplus instead of sitting on it.

ANZ Chief Economist, Saul Eslake, was not impressed with the ACT Government’s financial management. He said that the ACT surplus stood out from that recorded by other states. “It’s a big miss, it’s hard to understand,” he told the Canberra Times (17 August).

Mr. Eslake said that the surplus raised questions as to whether school closures had to be so severe.

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