Private Schools Had The Biggest Decline in PISA Results

Catholic and Independent schools had the biggest declines in the OECD’s Programme of Student Assessment (PISA) test results since 2009. Their students lost 1½ to nearly two years of learning in reading, mathematics and science. The falls in test scores were far bigger than for public schools.

The learning loss in Catholic and Independent schools occurred even though they were heavily favoured by government funding increases since 2009. Government (Commonwealth and state/territory) funding, adjusted for inflation, increased by $2,697 per student in Catholic schools and by $2,310 in Independent schools between 2009 and 2021 compared to $1,062 in public schools.

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Fully Funding Private Schools is No Solution to Inequity in Education

This article is a summary of a new Education Policy Brief. The full Brief can be downloaded below.

The proposal of Tom Greenwell and Chris Bonnor to fully fund private schools. subject to them not charging fees and not enrolling students on the basis of ability, abrogates key long standing principles of public education, namely, that public schools are secular and do not discriminate on the basis of student background. The proposal explicitly permits private schools to promulgate their religious beliefs and values and to discriminate against students and teachers who do not share these beliefs. This is anathema to the founding principles of public education. Public schools must remain secular and take all comers, whatever their background, to provide access to education for all and to promote understanding and tolerance between different social groups.

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The Lost Decade of School Autonomy in NSW

It is just over ten years since the school autonomy program called Local Schools, Local Decisions commenced in NSW. It has been a lost decade. It was supposed to increased student results but high inequity in education continues with more bureaucracy, less central support for schools and bigger workloads for principals and teachers.

The stated goal of Local Schools, Local Decisions was to improve student outcomes.  There is scant evidence of this in NSW NAPLAN results. They show shocking inequalities in school outcomes between highly advantaged and disadvantaged students with few improvements since 2010. 

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School Autonomy and Social Justice in Education

The following is a speech by Trevor Cobbold to a form at Deakin Univeristy to launch a report on School Autonomy Reform and Social Justice in Australian Public Education. The Report is available here.

First of all, I would like to congratulate the project team on its work. It has provided one of the most comprehensive reviews of the literature on school autonomy and contributed greatly to our knowledge about the implementation of school autonomy in Australian schools and its impact on students, teachers and principals.

Rather than review the array of its findings I would like to focus on a few key issues:

  • The meaning of social justice in education;
  • School autonomy and student achievement;
  • School autonomy and the bureaucratisation of schooling.
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Private Schools Had the Biggest Funding Increases and the Biggest Falls in School Results

Some of the commentary on the Productivity Commission report on the National Schools Reform Agreement drew a simplistic and highly misleading link between increased school funding and results. It ignored the key facts that Catholic and Independent schools had the largest funding increases since 2009 and the largest declines in international test results. The figures suggest that private schools are much less efficient that public schools, especially given that public schools enrol the vast majority of disadvantaged students.

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A Guide to Research on Vouchers

School vouchers have devastating effects on student outcomes. Full stop. .

Large-scale independent studies in D.C.,IndianaLouisiana, and Ohio show that for kids who left public schools, harmful voucher impacts actually meet or exceed what the pandemic did to test scores. That’s also a similar impact in Louisiana to what Hurricane Katrina did to student achievement back in 2005.

Think about that next time you hear a politician or activist claim we need taxpayer support for private schools to offset what the pandemic did to student learning. Here, their cure would in test score terms be quite literally worse than the disease.

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Our Public Schools in Crisis

Public schools in Victoria as we have known them for so long no longer exist. I never thought I would see the day when that fundamental and unique pillar of strength of the public education system, systemic collegiality and team work would be dismantled. It devastates me to see the growing evidence, almost daily, of a dog-eat-dog culture springing up across the public system.

It isn’t new news to anyone that we are experiencing a teacher shortage of disturbing levels, levels I’ve not witnessed in my fifty plus years in Victorian public schools. What is new, are the desperate measures to which principals are turning to attract and retain staff. wage and work conditions inducements, are being dangled in front of teachers, either to lure them out of their existing positions or have them change their minds after accepting an appointment at another school, days and even hours after doing so.

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Behind the News – The Decline of Public Education

The NSW Education Minister’s idea that the offer of an increase in pay would solve the complete systems failure of NSW’s Public School’s education department reveals her inability to grasp even the fundamental problems facing our schools; the inadequacies that exist have reached crisis point.  There are many obvious explanations of what is wrong primarily the insufficient funding which Trevor Cobbold from the Save Our Schools public schools advocacy group persistently identifies.  Another evident problem is the exhausting, non-teaching duties and administrative workload that has grown in recent years.  It would seem, if the political will existed these problems could be easily solved.  However, the contemporary education bureaucracy is underpinned by a faulty belief system that is the corner stone of all public services, the dependence on the principles of neoliberalism.

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Media Release: A Public Education Agenda for the New Education Minister

Save Our Schools (SOS) today presented a public education agenda for the new Minister for Education, Jason Clare. SOS National Convenor, Trevor Cobbold, said that Labor’s silence on crucial issues in public education must end: “The new Minister must step up for public schools”.

“Labor went to the election without an agenda for public education. It cannot be a do nothing government on public education. There are major issues and challenges facing public education that the new Minister must take action on.

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Critical Pedagogy in the Age of Neoliberalism

The experience of the 21st century in education is dominated by the culture and language of neoliberalism. Since the mainstreaming of neoliberal values in the 1980s, a dominance of hyper-individualism, meritocracy, competition and conservative, nationalist values has been normalised in the day-to-day practices and culture of the British education systems (Angus, 2015). This has created a culture in which social problems have been reimagined as individual problems; in which the ‘tyranny of merit’ (Sandel, 2020) paints those who do not ‘achieve’ – where achievement is measured in purely quantitative terms – as disposable and wholly to blame for their own failures.

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