Mr. Barr Fiddles the Figures – Yet Again!

Save Our Schools today accused the ACT Minister for Education, Andrew Barr, of misleading use of school enrolment figures to claim success for school closures. SOS convenor, Trevor Cobbold, said that school census figures published last week clearly show that government school enrolments have declined since 2006 while private school enrolments have increased.

“Mr. Barr has fiddled the figures yet again in claiming that school closures have delivered an increase in government school enrolments in Canberra ( Canberra Times, 1 April).”

“The facts are that government school enrolments fell by 632 students since 2006 while private school enrolments increased by 1295 students. In percentage terms, government school enrolments fell by 1.8% while private school enrolments increased by 5.2%.”

“This is far from the success that Mr. Barr claims.”

“Government school enrolments fell across the board from 2006 – by 221 students in primary schools, 373 students in high schools and 72 students in colleges. The only increase was in special schools. In contrast, private school enrolments increased by 747 students in primary schools, 312 in high schools and by 245 in the college years.”

“The government school share of total enrolments fell from 59% in 2006 to 57.3% in 2010.”

“These trends give lie to the Minister’s claim that school closures successfully stemmed the drift to private schools.”

Mr. Cobbold said that the Education Minister made misleading and incorrect comparisons to justify his claim.

“Mr. Barr wrongly compared enrolments in 2009 and 2010 instead of comparing 2006 and 2010 enrolments.”

“The increase in government school enrolments of 343 students in 2010 from 2009 cannot be attributed to school closures. It is part of an overall increase in the ACT school population of 732 students, by far the largest of only three increases in the last decade. Less than half of this increase went to government schools.”

“Mr. Barr artificially boosted government school figures in comparison with private schools by including pre-school enrolments. Only a few private schools make provision for pre-school enrolments and they account for just 13% of total pre-school enrolments in the ACT.”

Mr. Cobbold said that the Minister for Education has no credibility on school closure data.

“The Minister is a serial offender in misleading the public on school closures.”

“His savings figures from school closures were massively over-estimated; his school capacity figures were vastly over-stated as were his estimates of the costs of small schools; his future enrolment projections for government schools were under-estimated; he used out-of-date figures on ACT birth rates; and he was caught out by the Education Committee on the Legislative Assembly is misusing research findings on small schools to justify school closures.”

“Now he has been caught out yet again in misleading the public about trends in school enrolments. The Legislative Assembly should bring this Minister to account by moving a motion of no-confidence.”

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