Stop the Shepparton Super-School

We have been fighting hard for over six months to have our voice heard on the merger of four Greater Shepparton secondary schools into one school of 2,700 to 3,000 students. We have met a stony wall of silence. We have been told ‘You need to get on board for your children’s sake, during this difficult time of transition.’ Frankly, if one more educator, politician or mayor says that sentence again, we might choke.

The decision to amalgamate the four schools was made during September/October in 2017. The so-called ‘community consultation’ involved only an online survey and two workshops held in Mooroopna and Shepparton on the same day, that families of secondary students could attend. The consultation was not advertised either in time or adequately for parents to take part in.

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School Spending Cuts Lead to Declines in Student Achievement

A new study has found that recession-induced spending cuts in school education in the United States led to declines in student achievement, particularly in school districts serving economically disadvantaged and minority students. It is the second study in recent years showing the effect of spending cuts and the 27th study since 2015 showing that school expenditure has a significant effect on student achievement.

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The Facts About School Funding in the Northern Territory

Total government funding of Northern Territory private schools adjusted for inflation (“real funding”) increased massively between 2009 and 2017 while funding for public schools was cut. Even during the Gonski funding period of 2013-2017 the funding increases for private schools were 20-30 times that for public schools.

The NT Government took the opportunity of increased Commonwealth funding for public schools to massively cut its own real funding of public schools.

Government funding increases have been badly mis-directed in favouring private schools. About 83% of disadvantaged students in the Northern Territory are in public schools and 88% of disadvantaged schools are public schools.

Under the new Commonwealth/Northern Territory funding agreement, NT public schools will continue to be badly under-funded to 2023 and beyond while private schools will be nearly fully funded by 2023.

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Shepparton Community Continues the Fight Against Super School

The following is an open letter to Victorian politicians and education department officials from a member of the Shepparton community.

I am concerned about the lack of evidence to back the Victorian Education Department’s claims that the super school is the best option for education in Shepparton. Studies have shown that large schools do not improve academic outcomes and small schools perform better in academic outcomes, discipline, mental health and safety. In the USA and UK large schools have been made into smaller ones. Studies show smaller schools graduate a larger proportion of their students than do large schools. Schools with populations of diverse or disadvantaged backgrounds should be limited to 600 or fewer students. Schools with advantaged students should be capped at about 1000 students.

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New Study Shows that Increased Funding Improves Student Outcomes

The evidence that increased expenditure on schools improves student outcomes continues to accumulate. Yet another study has found that it increases test scores, reduces drop-out rates and increases tertiary education enrolments.

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Shepparton Super-School is Unlikely to Improve Outcomes

The Minister for Education, James Merlino, is treating the Shepparton/Mooroopna community with breathtaking arrogance and contempt in refusing to provide any evidence that the new super-school will improve school outcomes. He has repeatedly avoided fronting the community to justify the school.

The Minister claims that the merger will boost student results. Yet, two years after the plan was first mooted, he hasn’t provided any evidence for his claim. When faced with a direct request for this evidence at a community meeting in Shepparton, government representatives couldn’t provide it.

There is good reason for this failure and the Minister’s attempt to bluff it out – there is little evidence to support his claim!

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What is really going on in Finland’s school reform?

Finland has been in the spotlight of the education world since it appeared, against all odds, on the top of the rankings of an international test known as PISA, the Program for International Student Assessment, in the early 2000s. Tens of thousands visitors have traveled to the country to see how to improve their own schools. Hundreds of articles have been written to explain why Finnish education is so marvelous — or sometimes that it isn’t. Millions of tweets have been shared and read, often leading to debates about the real nature of Finland’s schools and about teaching and learning there.

We have learned a lot about why some education systems — such as Alberta, Ontario, Japan and Finland — perform better year after year than others in terms of quality and equity of student outcomes. We also understand now better why some other education systems — for example, England, Australia, the United States and Sweden — have not been able to improve their school systems regardless of politicians’ promises, large-scale reforms and truckloads of money spent on haphazard efforts to change schools during the past two decades.

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The Facts About School Funding in the ACT

Total government funding per student in ACT public schools adjusted for inflation (“real funding”) was cut between 2009 and 2017. In contrast, per student funding for Catholic schools was massively boosted and Independent schools received a lesser but significant increase. Public schools endured a massive cut in funding during the Gonski funding period of 2013-2017 while Catholic schools received a huge boost in funding and Independent schools a small increase.

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Segregated School Systems Increase Social Inequality in Education

There is extensive research evidence that the social composition of schools is a significant factor in educational inequality. Students from different socio-economic status (SES) families who attend schools with a high concentration of students from high SES families tend to achieve higher test results and higher graduation rates. There are negative consequences for high and low SES students from attending low SES schools.

A new study published in the academic journal Studies in Educational Evaluation has found similar effects on educational inequality from social segregation in school systems. It found that social segregation within European education systems amplifies social disparities in educational achievement. Achievement gaps between low and high SES students tend to be higher in more highly segregated school systems.

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Vic Govt Has Failed to Justify Shepparton Super School

The Victorian Labor Government has announced that it will merge four secondary schools in Shepparton and Mooroopna into a new “super school” of about 3,000 students. The merger is being strongly resisted by of the Stop Shepparton’s Super School Facebook group. A community meeting earlier this month called for an independent review of the decision. Many parents are concerned because the merger will restrict public school options in the area.

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