Wealthy Private School Parents Evading Taxes

One of the arguments used by the wealthy to justify government subsidization of their fees at elite private schools is that they pay taxes and there should receive government funding for whatever school their child attends. Apart from being a spurious argument, it appears that many of the wealthy are not paying taxes anyway.

Last month, the Australian Taxation Office announced that it has contacted more than 100 Australian parents with children at 60 elite private schools who paid school fees of $100,000 a year from overseas bank accounts. The ATO obtained information from the schools and matched it against parents’ tax returns. It is part of the ATO’s crackdown on tax evasion by wealthy individuals with hidden income and assets offshore.

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Technology is No Game-Changer in the Classroom

Technology will revolutionize the classroom! I have been hearing these promises for most of my 20 year physics teaching career and yet there is scant high quality evidence for it. Cyber schools show little learning. The OECD found “no appreciable improvement in student achievement” with large scale investments in computer technology. Computer technology seems like such a natural fit in the classroom. Why has it not been the game changer that it should be?

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More Evidence That Better School Results Increases Economic Growth

A study published by the US National Bureau of Economic Research this week shows that bringing all students up to a basic level of education increases work force skills and economic growth. It adds to the substantial weight of international and Australian evidence that increasing student achievement increases economic growth.

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Turnbull Govt Fails on Improving Maths and Science

Given that Australia’s international test results in mathematics and science have fallen in recent years, it is somewhat bewildering that the Turnbull Government’s innovation statement released on Monday virtually ignores school education.

The statement says that ensuring students have the skills to equip them for the workforce of the 21st century is critical to maximising Australia’s productivity, and ensuring economic and social well-being in an increasingly STEM-based and digital economy. However, it proposes spending a miserly extra $100 million on school education over five years from 2016-17, comprising $48 million on prizes and competitions in science and mathematics and $51 million on digital literacy programs.

The proposed increase is farcical. It amounts to only $20 million a year or $54 per student a year. It represents only one per cent of the increase in Gonski funding planned by the Gillard/Rudd governments over the three years from 2016-17 to 2018-19. It will do little to reverse Australia’s declining maths and science results.

Trevor Cobbold

The ACT’s Underperfoming School System Warrants Independent Review

The latest national report on the NAPLAN results published last week indicates that the ACT school system (public and private) is underperforming. It appears to be underperforming on average student results, student progress and equity. The apparent under-performance warrants an independent public review.

The ACT has many advantages over other jurisdictions in factors that influence school results. It has higher average income and parent education levels than elsewhere. It has fewer disadvantaged students and less extreme poverty. The average socio-economic status of students and schools in the ACT is much higher than in other states. All its schools are in the metropolitan area; it has no remote area students. Average school (public and private) income per student is higher than any other jurisdiction except Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

Despite these advantages, average NAPLAN results for the ACT are no better than for Australia and several states. The report’s statistical analysis of state relativities shows that the ACT results in writing, spelling, grammar and punctuation, and numeracy for Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 are not statistically different from the Australian average or those in several states.

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Top Public Service Mandarin Badly Bungled School Funding Figures

In an extraordinary move earlier this month, the head of the Prime Minister’s Department, Michael Thawley, criticised increased funding for education within days of the Prime Minister suggesting that the Government would consider fully funding the Gonski school plan. Only a week after Malcolm Turnbull floated the idea of restoring the last two years of the Gonski plan that was abandoned by Abbott, Thawley used flawed figures to warn against increasing school funding.

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Reflections on Teaching: The Craft of Teaching

School teaching is a craft. A school teacher is an adult in a room full of children and the task is to look after the children, supervise their social behaviour, and give them skills and knowledge.

When I use the word ‘craft’, I don’t mean making things out of seashells. I mean an activity that involves using skill to achieve a practical end. You learn how to teach by doing it. Parenting skills are probably the most valuable skills to have. There are many teaching methods and every teaching situation is different, so a teacher needs to have many techniques and must constantly be thinking about which ones to use.

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Integrating Immigrant Children in School is an Australian Success Story

A new OECD report provides some interesting perspective on the debate over immigration in Europe and the Paris terrorist attacks. It shows a sharp contrast between the integration of immigrant children in schools in France and Belgium compared to Australia. Immigrant children in France and Belgium are the most alienated in the OECD, indicating a failure of integration, whereas far fewer immigrant children in Australia are alienated from school.

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The ACT school system: An increasingly stratified, inequitable and dysfunctional schooling system

The following is the text of a presentation by education researcher, Barbara Preston, to the Progressive Canberra Summit, held at the National Gallery of Australia on Saturday, 14 November.  Continue reading “The ACT school system: An increasingly stratified, inequitable and dysfunctional schooling system”