Outrageous that Rich Schools Decide Funding for the Disadvantaged

The public education advocacy group Save Our Schools today called for government schools to be included in negotiations over the funding loadings for disadvantaged students in the new school funding model. SOS National Convenor, Trevor Cobbold, said that the future funding for disadvantaged schools is being held hostage to negotiations with the richest schools in Australia. Continue reading “Outrageous that Rich Schools Decide Funding for the Disadvantaged”

New School Funding Model Should Include Big Loadings for Disadvantaged Students

This is a summary of a new Education Policy Brief published by Save Our Schools.

The Prime Minister and the Education Minister claim that the National Partnerships on Literacy and Numeracy and Low SES Schools have increased results for students in partnership schools since 2008. They claim that schools participating in these programs have reduced the proportion of students below the national benchmarks by more than other schools and increased their average NAPLAN results by more than other schools.

Unfortunately, the Government’s claims are highly questionable. The evidence released by the Government to support its claims is weak, selective, inconsistent, and is contradicted by other NAPLAN data. Continue reading “New School Funding Model Should Include Big Loadings for Disadvantaged Students”

The Whackiness of School League Tables

Once again, The Canberra Times has run the legal gauntlet by publishing the crudest of school league tables. The Times is the proverbial “last man standing” now that the nation’s other newspapers have given up on this practice.

A quick analysis of the content of the league tables reveals how unreliable and meaningless the information is – at least when it comes to drawing any conclusions about school or teacher quality. Continue reading “The Whackiness of School League Tables”

Australia’s Maths Performance Relative to East Asia Improves in Secondary School

The gap in student performance between Australia and East Asian countries has been a focus of much debate in recent times. A paper recently published by the Institute of Education at the University of London shows that while the gap in mathematics is quite large in primary school much of it has been eliminated by age 16. It also shows that Australia’s mathematics results are more strongly associated with socio-economic background at age 16 than in most other countries included in the study. Continue reading “Australia’s Maths Performance Relative to East Asia Improves in Secondary School”

Private Schools to Triple-Dip Under Baillieu Plan

Private schools around Australia and in Victoria would get a hidden windfall gain of up to $90 million a year from the Baillieu funding plan proposed as an alternative to the Gonski model. Victorian private schools would gain up to $55 million and private schools in other states would gain about $33 million. This hidden bonus is in addition to an increase in their direct funding from the plan of about $100 million.

Private schools will triple-dip on the taxpayer under the Baillieu plan. It will provide three sources of additional government funding for private schools in Victoria – one direct funding for disadvantaged students from the Victorian and Federal governments, a second as hidden indirect funding for all private schools from the Federal Government and a third as hidden indirect funding for all schools from the Victorian Government. Continue reading “Private Schools to Triple-Dip Under Baillieu Plan”

Garrett Admits There is Little Evidence to Support School Autonomy

The Federal Minister for Education, Peter Garrett, yesterday completely undermined his own $500 million school autonomy program with a stunning admission in a letter published in the Australian Financial Review. He said:

“…there is little, if any, evidence to suggest overseas experiments like charter schools or student vouchers would lead to better education results.”

Charter schools are independent public schools in the United States. They are the archetype of school autonomy. They are able to hire and dismiss staff, determine staff working conditions, the school schedule, determine their own curriculum and teaching methods, and to decide how to allocate their budgets.

Continue reading “Garrett Admits There is Little Evidence to Support School Autonomy”

Make or Break Time for Gonski

It is make or break time for the Gonski school funding model. It is make or break time for a better funding deal for disadvantaged students and schools. It is make or break time for putting equity in education before entrenching privilege. It is make or break time for reducing the high social and economic costs of inequity in education. Continue reading “Make or Break Time for Gonski”

New Figures Show No Progress in Reducing Low Student Achievement in the Past 30 Years

New figures show that no progress has been made over the past 30 years in reducing the proportion of students finishing school with only the most basic literacy and numeracy levels. They demonstrate the longstanding failure of governments to address the needs of low achieving students. They add to the case to implement the $6.5 billion increase in funding for disadvantaged schools and students recommended by the Gonski review of school funding. Continue reading “New Figures Show No Progress in Reducing Low Student Achievement in the Past 30 Years”

The Economics of Gonski

A slightly edited version of this article was published in the Australian Financial Review on 18 February 2013.

There is a compelling economic case for the $6.5 billion investment in disadvantaged schools recommended by the Gonski review of school funding. Low achievement and low school completion amongst disadvantaged students impose high costs on the economy.

These costs include higher unemployment, lower lifetime earnings, lower productivity, less taxation revenue, higher health care and crime costs, and higher welfare expenditure. The Gonski funding will be worthwhile if it is well targeted at those most in need and at programs that work. Continue reading “The Economics of Gonski”

OECD Education Director Says ‘Autonomy Can Work Against You’

The deputy director for education at the OECD, Andreas Schleicher, has warned that “autonomy can work against you” by reducing collaboration between schools. He says that academies – independent public schools in England – risk reducing co-operation between schools and creating a wider gap between the best and worst performing schools. Continue reading “OECD Education Director Says ‘Autonomy Can Work Against You’”