Call for Private Schools to Pay Local Government Rates

Private schools should pay rates according to the Municipal Association of Victoria. It claims that local councils are missing out on millions of dollars in revenue because private schools are exempted from paying rates. It says the exemptions are unfair and inequitable as other ratepayers must pay more to cover the revenue loss. 

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OECD Says 3 in 4 Australian Students Do Not Try on PISA Tests

One factor not considered in the commotion over the continuing decline in Australia’s PISA results is whether students try their best on the tests. The OECD’s own report on PISA 2018 shows that about three in four Australian students and two-thirds of students in OECD countries did not try their hardest on the tests. There are also wide differences between countries. It has potentially explosive implications for the validity of international comparisons of student achievement based on PISA.

The PISA data also shows increasing student dissatisfaction with school which likely contributes to lack of effort on tests and is a factor, among others, behind Australia’s declining results. There is also a perplexing contradiction between Australia’s declining PISA results and its improving Year 12 results. Lack of effort in PISA may partly explain this because performance on PISA has no consequences for students as they don’t even get their individual results. In contrast, Year 12 outcomes affect the life chances of students and even students dissatisfied with school have greater incentive to try harder. The fact that Australia’s Year 12 results have improved significantly since the early 2000s raises further questions about the reliability of the PISA results.

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Is The Shepparton Super-School Merger Valid?

The following is a press release issued by the Save Our Schools – No Transition Group in Shepparton, Victoria. It shows that the Shepparton schools merger plan was not formally agreed by all four school councils as required by the School Merger Guidelines.

We have evidence that the Shepparton Education Plan was not formally agreed to by all four school councils as required by School  Merger Guidelines,  prior to the announcement on 19 April, 2018, by Education Minister, James Merlino, that it would proceed.

Despite a requirement that the motion to accept the model proposed by the Strategic Advisory Committee be passed at a properly constituted meeting with a quorum, it appears that the motion was not passed in accordance with School Merger Guidelines and School Council Governance.

An FOI request written in September, 2019 requesting written advice to the Minister as required by School Merger Guidelines that all four councils had voted on the plan at a meet­ ing with a quorum has been completed and together with existing evidence appears to confirm that two of the four schools did not pass the motion  to accept the recommendation  of the Strategic Advisory Committee of one school  on one site, based  on the schools within a school model, before the announcement in April 2018. It was not voted on until months later when it was finally carried.

Community information is that three of the four schools did not pass the motion prior to the announcement and it was never voted on by one and later ratified by two.

In fairness to all concerned parties, this plan needs to be halted until this issue has been investigated and satisfactorily addressed with adequate consultation with the families of Greater Shepparton as requested at a public meeting in August, 2019.

Local MP Refuses to Discuss Shepparton Super-School

The following is a letter by a member of the Stop Shepparton Super-School group in response to a refusal by the local Independent MP, Suzanna Sheed, to discuss the super-school proposal.

The Executive Committee of Save Our Schools No Transition in Shepparton has been trying for months to obtain a meeting with our local Independent MP, Suzanna Sheed, in order to present to her the reasons and concerns of members of the community that are against having one huge super school in Shepparton with no choice for schooling and poor communication about its planning.

We have been aggressively refused a meeting with Ms. Sheed. She needs to remember that she was elected to represent her constituents.

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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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