Correna Haythorpe, Federal President of the Australian Education Union (AEU), talks about the current increases in enrolment figures at public schools.
Using the recently released NAPLAN results to create a ranked list of Australia’s schools, The Weekend Australian‘s Your School analysis demonstrates a clear divide in the results of high-fee private schools compared with those of their public school counterparts.
The publication provides information on over 9,000 schools nationwide, including state-by-state rankings of schools, which can be sorted by secondary, primary, most funded, least funded and more.
Independent schools currently make up three-quarters of all high schools in the top 100 according to overall performance.
The Your School analysis arrives at a time when the school funding debate appears to have been rekindled in maintstream media, recently stoked by comments from the Federal Minister for Education, Senator Simon Birmingham on ABC’s Q&A programme.
However, social and financial disadvantage have significant influence on education and, as Senior Lecturer in Research Methodology, Education Assessment and Evaluation at Sydney University, Rachel Wilson told The Weekend Australian, NAPLAN ‘was not a particularly sensitive test and was designed to set up benchmarks to identify schools that were performing poorly’.
As an example, Ms. Wilson points out that “Tasmania has a much lower income per capita and much higher levels of disadvantage and that’s reflected in their poorer performance”.
Australian Education Union president, Correna Haythorpe concurred, saying that public schools are “performing as well as private, once socio-economic background is taken into account”.
Latest figures show more students with ATARs under 50 are being admitted to teaching degrees, raising questions about minimum entry standards from the Australian Education Union (AEU).
The rate of entrants with ATARs under 50 has nearly doubled since 2013, rising from 7.2 per cent to 14.3 per cent, which the AEU says indicates a failure by the Coalition to introduce means of addressing falling standards or an oversupply of graduates.
Ms. Correna Haythorpe, Federal President of the AEU, said the Government must impose minimum entry standards in order to maintain the future quality of Australia’s teaching body.
“Entry scores for teaching degrees have dropped steadily over the last decade, and are now significantly lower than for other courses.
“This is a far cry from successful school systems like Singapore which recruit teachers from the top 30 per cent of high school graduates,” she says.
Figures released by the Federal Education Department shows that 1062 students were admitted to teaching courses with ATARs under 50, up from 894 in 2015 and in 2016 over half of all teaching students admitted with an ATAR in 2016 had one of less than 70.
Ms. Haythorpe highlights the Government’s stated intention to put teacher quality ahead of funding, but as thus far failed to take meaningful steps in this direction.
“The Coalition wants to cut needs-based Gonski funding after 2017, and says they will focus on teacher quality ahead of resources. Yet they have failed to do anything to address this issue or limit the number of students entering teaching degrees.”