My School Comparisons Expose Hypocrisy of PM and Gillard

The Save Our Schools public education advocacy group today accused the Prime Minister and the Federal Education Minister of hypocrisy and duplicity about reporting school results.

SOS national convenor, Trevor Cobbold, said they have broken each of their three key promises about publishing school results.

“The Prime Minister and the Federal Education Minister gave assurances that schools would not be unfairly compared; schools would not be “named and shamed”; and that they would not support “simplistic” league tables. My School shows they have failed to deliver on all of these promises. Their assurances are exposed as duplicitous.

“The Prime Minister has long said that government schools in disadvantaged areas would not be compared with “likes of Geelong Grammar and the rest” but this is exactly what My School does.

“Its local schools webpage compares the results of Geelong Grammar – one of the wealthiest schools in Australia –with government and Catholic schools in Corio and Norlane, which are amongst the most disadvantaged suburbs in Australia. Geelong Grammar has 1% of its students in the bottom quarter of the My School socio-economic index compared to over 90% for many other schools in the area including Corio PS, Corio South PS, Corio West PS, and St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School.

“This is the kind of “simplistic” and “arbitrary” school comparison that the Prime Minister and the Federal Education Minister say they are opposed to. It is not the only example. My School provides many other unfair comparisons between the most advantaged and disadvantaged schools around Australia.” (see attached table)

Mr. Cobbold also condemned the Government for breaking its guarantee not to name and shame schools.

“Julia Gillard gave an absolute guarantee that schools would not be ‘named and shamed’. Yet, this is precisely what My School does. Schools with the worst results are given a red flag. The red flag signifies danger, don’t go there. Why else was the colour red chosen to grade the lowest performing schools, other than to punish them?

“Most often it is schools serving the most disadvantaged communities in Australia that are given red flags. These are the schools working in the most difficult of circumstances, yet their reward from the Rudd Government is to be pilloried in public.

“This is public shaming of the worst possible kind. By ‘red flagging’ schools, Gillard is aiding and abetting an annual ritual hunt for the worst performing schools around Australia that happens in England and the United States.

“This is not the path to school improvement. Students in these schools will be humiliated and demoralised. Students who are humiliated for their learning accomplishments are unlikely to respond positively in their future learning. It makes the task of teachers and schools that much harder.”

Mr. Cobbold said that the PM and Ms. Gillard have been shown to be hypocritical in their claim that the Government did not support “simplistic” league tables.

“The league tables published in today’s Canberra Times and the tables of the best and worst schools published in the Herald-Sun demonstrate the Government’s hypocrisy on league tables. The Government claims it is against ‘simplistic’ league tables, but it has published the data that allows their publication and washed its hands of all responsibility.

“These league tables are the most ‘simplistic’ and damaging kind. They do not take any account of the differences in the socio-economic background of students. So much for Julia Gillard’s claim that so-called ‘like school’ comparisons would provide context for the reporting of school results.”

Mr. Cobbold said that the only answer to the Government’s duplicity is to boycott the next round of national tests.

“The Government has been totally hypocritical and intransigent on reporting school results. It has made false promises. It has refused to acknowledge the harm done by unfair and simplistic comparisons between schools.

“Parents should join with teachers in boycotting the national literacy and numeracy tests next May by withdrawing their students from the tests.”

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