The ACT Education System Can Do Better

This is the text of a speech by Trevor Cobbold, National Convenor, to a seminar sponsored by the Institute of Governance in Canberra on the topic ‘What or How Much Value Does the ACT Education System Add to Your Child’s Learning’ and held on 22 September.

My short answer to the seminar topic is that the ACT education system adds quite lot of value to children’s learning, but it should be adding more. The ACT has generally high education outcomes by national and international standards, but despite several unique advantages its results are only similar to some other jurisdictions and have largely stagnated or declined since 2008. In addition, there is a high degree of inequity in education outcomes in the ACT.

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Public Primary Schools do as Well as Independent Schools and Better than Catholic Schools

A new study published in the latest issue of the Australian Economic Review has found that students in public primary schools achieve better results than Catholic schools and similar results to Independent schools. These findings confirm those of other recent studies in Australia and overseas that student performance in public schools is as good as, or better than, those in private schools. Continue reading “Public Primary Schools do as Well as Independent Schools and Better than Catholic Schools”

Productivity Commission Fails to Lift the Bonnet on its Own Funding Figures

In its report on the National Education Evidence Base, the Productivity Commission claims that it is “lifting the bonnet on Australia’s schools”. Unfortunately, it failed to lift the bonnet on its own funding figures and see that the funding engine is badly misfiring.

The Commission has greatly exaggerated the actual increase in funding and it has missed the key point that past funding increases have not been directed at reducing under-performance. Past funding increases have favoured more advantaged schools over disadvantaged schools. As a result, school performance has largely stagnated over the past 10 years.

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Victorian Government Schools Short Changed on Funds

The Age newspaper is on the money, with its recent reporting on the financial plight facing an increasing number of Victorian government schools. With banner headlines such as “Schools battling to balance books” (11/06), “Broke schools forced to hire out teachers” (17/06), and most recently, “Schools cutting classes, breaking rules for money” (21/6), The Age is confirming what everyone in our government system knows – our school funding model is bankrupt! Disturbingly, that’s only the half of it.

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Ken Boston Lambasts Political Failure on Gonski

A key member of the Gonski School Funding Review, Ken Boston, has savaged the political failure to implement the Gonski plan as originally recommended. In a speech last week to the NSW branch of the Australian Council of Educational Leaders commemorating the eminent educator, Dr. Paul Brock, Boston said that Gonksi has been “torn apart at the seams”.

While welcoming the increase in funding that has flowed from the review, Boston listed several fundamental weaknesses of the funding system implemented post-Gonski. Most importantly, the system that has emerged from the political process is not sector-blind, needs-based funding as recommended by the review panel, but continues to discriminate between public and private schools.

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Apple and Other Multinationals are Fleecing the Disadvantaged

A ground breaking decision by the European Commission has highlighted massive tax evasion by large multinational firms that depletes government revenue to invest in essential services such as health and education. The loss falls most heavily on disadvantaged families who get reduced access to quality health services and education opportunities for their children.

The Federal Government claims that funding the $7 billion for the last two years of the Gonski school funding plan is not sustainable given the state of the federal budget. However, tax evasion by large multinational companies is a major drain on government revenue and it needs to be stopped to provide decent health and education for disadvantaged families and children.

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OECD Says That Competition in Education Has Failed

The OECD has issued a damning verdict on education policies that promote competition between schools. Its latest PISA in Focus brief
says bluntly that the PISA international test data shows that more competition has failed to improve student results and has increased social segregation between schools. Continue reading “OECD Says That Competition in Education Has Failed”

No Success for Independent Public Schools

Independent public (IP) schools in Western Australia have failed to improve student results according to a new report by a bi-partisan WA parliamentary committee. It also found that the introduction of IP schools has increased inequalities and created a ‘two-tiered’ education system.

The findings are a major blow to Coalition governments around the country which have made increasing school autonomy a central policy plank. Several recent overseas studies have also found little impact from increasing school autonomy over budgets and staffing.

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Teachers and Principals Say School Autonomy Means Cutbacks

The following is a media release from the ACT Branch of the Australian Education Union (AEU) on the results of a survey of principals and teachers in the 23 schools participating in a pilot project on school autonomy. Continue reading “Teachers and Principals Say School Autonomy Means Cutbacks”

Birmingham’s Unscrupulous Duplicities on School Funding

There was much wringing of hands at the stagnation in Australia’s literacy and numeracy results revealed by the latest NAPLAN data. A critical factor behind the stagnation is the continuing failure of governments to spend money where it is most needed and will do most good. Since 2009, funding increases have been misdirected to the school sectors least in need while funding has been cut to public schools which serve the overwhelming proportion of disadvantaged students.

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