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”

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”

Resource Gaps Between Advantaged & Disadvantaged Schools Among the Largest in the World

This is a summary of an Education Research Brief published by Save Our Schools. The full Brief can be downloaded below

Disadvantaged students in Australia are being denied equal opportunities to learn because they have less access to qualified teachers and material resources than advantaged students. The gaps in access to education resources between advantaged and disadvantaged schools in Australia are among the largest in the world and the OECD.

Continue reading “Resource Gaps Between Advantaged & Disadvantaged Schools Among the Largest in the World”

NAPLAN Report Shows Little Progress in Reducing Inequity in Education

This is a summary of a new SOS research brief. The full version can be downloaded below

The national report on the NAPLAN results for 2015 published last December shows continuing large inequities in education in Australia. Large proportions of disadvantaged students are not achieving national standards in literacy and numeracy and there are large achievement gaps between disadvantaged and advantaged students, most of which have not changed since 2008 and some have increased. Continue reading “NAPLAN Report Shows Little Progress in Reducing Inequity in Education”

Study Shows that Funding Increases for Disadvantaged Schools Boosts Results

A path-breaking study published by the US National Bureau of Economic Research shows conclusively that school finance reforms over the last 25 years succeeded in lifting the results of disadvantaged students. It concludes that “money can and does matter in education” [p. 35].

The study shows the reforms led to larger increases in funding for low income school districts than for high income districts and that this increased the absolute and relative achievement of students in low income districts. It adds to the weight of evidence supporting the full implementation of the Gonski school funding plan.

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School Myths Busted

In the wake of the latest version of My School two researchers have published a startling account of what the numbers behind the website actually show. Former school principals Chris Bonnor and Bernie Shepherd have revealed new findings which challenge myths about Australia’s schools.

While reports are frequently about the ‘drift to the private schools’ Bonnor and Shepherd have found that the drift could be equally seen as one from low socio-educational advantage (SEA) schools to higher SEA schools. As recently reported on Lateline, they show that enrolments are increasing in higher SEA government schools, but declining in low SEA government schools.

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What My School Really Says About Our Schools

The following article is a summary of a new report called School Daze by Chris Bonnor and Bernie Shepherd.

Australia’s schools are very diverse, if only because of where they are and who they serve. Educational diversity is something to value, but we also have a social diversity, in fact a socio-educational hierarchy of schools which is serving some people more than others – and not serving the nation at all well.

Continue reading “What My School Really Says About Our Schools”