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Canberra Primary Schools?

By ezzimay - 14 September 2010 15

My husband and I bought property on Smiths Rd, out past Tharwa 5 years ago, loving the fact that Tharwa Public school was our ‘local’. We subsequently spent 4 years living overseas, but are now back.

Our eldest daughter is due to start Primary school next year and we find oursleves in the catchment for Conder Primary, Tharwa Primary having closed down.

I am beginning to despair in my search for a quality, well rounded education for our girls as we’ve only heard average reports of Conder; the closest Catholic primary school is huge(and set in a dustbowl behind Conder shops, plus my husband is a staunch athiest); and other, relatively close public primary schools have pointed us directly back to Conder, as we are ‘out of catchment’.

Really, we are 1/2an hour from any of these schools regardless, and I’m now looking seriously at Orana.
Having gone to the ‘local primary’ growing up in Sydney, I’ve always believed in the public school system, but now am faced with so many average choices that it’s making my head spin.

What’s Your opinion?


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15 Responses to
Canberra Primary Schools?
legco 2:13 pm 15 Sep 10

We’ve had 2 kids at Conder for the past 3 years and are very happy with the school. Look hard enough at any school and the bad experinces as well as the good ones will come out. Parental involvement with their child’s education is important and the key to good school experinces.

deezagood 7:25 am 15 Sep 10

Certainly take any advice offered here, but always do your own research before making this important decision (I wish that we had done this before making our initial school choice; you tend to learn as you go as far as parenting is concerned!). Pop into the schools you are considering unannounced one day and ask to see the class year that your child is likely to attend. Ask if you might observe for half an hour or so (maybe on a couple of different occasions). Does the class seem settled? Do the children seem engaged and excited about learning? How are disciplinary issues managed? Attend a morning assembly – how the children behaved? Are they listening respectfully, interested in what is happening, or running all over the place during announcements? Talk to parents during pick up time when they are waiting for their kids. What do they think of the school? Attend a P&C meeting. Do the parents seem actively involved and keen to make the school a better place? Does the Principal engage with parents during the meeting? Read the newsletters (most are on line) …. how are school activities reflected in the newsletter?? Don’t forget that catchment areas may not be a limitation if the school numbers are down; Fadden Primary (which is excellent) takes quite a few kids from out of area. I have heard wonderful things about Bonython Primary (not too far from you), so maybe give them a call. We tried Catholic school for a few years before switching to our local state primary … and the kids are thriving. Private doesn’t always mean ‘better’. Good luck with making this difficult decision.

toriness 10:34 pm 14 Sep 10

i can’t really speak for admission ‘requirements’ in ACT in terms of catholic or other religion-based schools but personally speaking i attended an anglican school for the majority of my education in another jurisdiction so that’s where i’m coming from.

yes you may have religion shoved down your throat (or your child’s throat as the case may be) but it’s not going to turn your child into a religious nut if that’s what you’re worried about – i am an atheist, pretty much was before i went to said school – and that is a combination of my own free-thinking encouraged by my parents (non-religious – not atheist) together with an individualistic revolt at having said religion shoved down my throat (ie a reaction to mindless religion persuasion/conversion). i thrived at said school in every way – i credit that school with having excellent education principles and framework beyond religion. dare i say that’s what you should be doing too… i am not a parent, just someone who went to a religious school and came out at the end with an excellent academic record and grounding – despite or maybe because of the religious principles…. but am an atheist nonetheless.

what i mean to say judge a school on the whole of its merits. don’t accept or dismiss it on religious grounds. unless they are COMPLETE nutters. judge the school on the whole of its merits. not just one aspect.

grunge_hippy 8:01 pm 14 Sep 10

do your own homework, its not that hard. get out an meet and greet. you’ll soon get a feel for the school. as for out of area, if you dig a little deeper and actually ask the principal most will let you enrol unless they are chockers.

As for NAPLAN, there is one school in the valley that is head and shoulders above the rest in results. ask the principals for their results, they’ll be only too pleased to share if they are good.

Jethro 5:54 pm 14 Sep 10

The best way to choose a school is to go to the MySchool website and find the school with the best NAPLAN results.

After consulting MySchool you will not need to consider any other aspects of the school, its curriculum, or philosophy of education. Non-contextualised NAPLAN data is by far the best way to come to a decision.

dale1878 3:08 pm 14 Sep 10

My lack of an imaginary friend got us turned away from one catholic school.
My little “heathens” are not even christened, in any religion, yet were welcome at their current school. Apparently only 60% of the students are christened Catholics.
There’s also a chance my daughter will become school captain…..that should raise an eyebrow or two!

Firstly, I’m sure there were many reasons that you got turned away from that school, honestly.
Secondly, I know at the school I went to there was a distinct pecking order. I have many friends who are Sikh, Tamil, Buddhist, Muslim, etc who went to our Catholic school. Didn’t matter at all to the school.
Thirdly, an athiest school captain won’t raise any eyebrows, that’s for sure. It’s school, not Parliament.

pptvb 1:10 pm 14 Sep 10

Woody Mann-Caruso said :

I am also a “staunch athiest”, but we are very pleased with the Catholic School our kids attend.

o_O

How did you get your kids into a Catholic school without signing on the dotted line that you’re committed to and exhibit Catholic values, one of which has something to do with believing in an invisible ghost wizard?

Ha ha.
My lack of an imaginary friend got us turned away from one catholic school.
My little “heathens” are not even christened, in any religion, yet were welcome at their current school. Apparently only 60% of the students are christened Catholics.
There’s also a chance my daughter will become school captain…..that should raise an eyebrow or two!

Swaggie 12:23 pm 14 Sep 10

This may not be much help if you are meeting the “out of catchment” obstacle but Bonython PS has been great for my girls, I had doubts when they first enrolled but all doubts have long since vanished so if you want a recommendation I’d suggest Bonython.

dale1878 12:14 pm 14 Sep 10

I want to start off my rant by saying this: I’m not telling you what to do, just offering advice from someone who left the schooling system in the ACT only a matter of years ago.
I think there are two issues to consider here. One being the future of your child’s education, and the other being the moral argument that you as parents face in placing your child into an education system where private religious schools are at a distinct advantage both in funding and academic results.
Firstly, I understand that the idea of local schools with local kids taught by local people is appealing. I, for one, am extremely aware of the need to improve our public schooling system both in the ACT and across the country. This aside, the point stands – until the public schooling system improves (whenever that may be), it is, in my opinion, better for children to be educated privately in an environment which is specifically suited to their needs. The lack of funding and resources being allocated to our public schools in Canberra deteriorates the environment in which the children learn, and, as such, affects their results both in early childhood and into the future.
As a former Catholic student at this “dustbowl” you mention, I can only give the school ringing endorsements. My first year at SCA was 1994 when the school opened, and from then I have seen the school grow – brothers and sisters of students I left school there with are actually teaching there now.
It was mentioned previously that the socioeconomic group that is enrolled at both Charles Conder and Gordon Primary Schools is in the lower quartile of the ACT, and this is in my opinion another reason to consider moving to SCA or even St Francis in Calwell. Where Conder, etc, feed into Lanyon High and then Tugg College, SCA and SFA feed into schools such as Mackillop, Marist, St Clares College, Eddies, Grammar, etc etc. The continuing academic results within the private education system far outweigh those from their public counterparts; in fact, I’ve come to the conclusion that if my child were to finish college in the public system, it would only be at Narrabundah College, due to them doin the Baccalaureate.
The second issue here is that of yours and your partners conflicting beliefs, due to the other half being staunchly atheist. Surely, as parents, you wish to let your child decide their own values and beliefs as they grow? Would you also say that your child’s education is more important than making them choose between a religious or non-religious belief system? I know that at our school, we studied religion, not Catholicism. Take Year 12 religion for example – we were taught ethics, from the teachings and musings of historical figures, not deities.
As a former Catholic schoolboy, I can tell you that I know more kids who left my school as staunch atheists than staunch Catholics.

Something to consider.

KB1971 11:54 am 14 Sep 10

Woody Mann-Caruso said :

I am also a “staunch athiest”, but we are very pleased with the Catholic School our kids attend.

o_O

How did you get your kids into a Catholic school without signing on the dotted line that you’re committed to and exhibit Catholic values, one of which has something to do with believing in an invisible ghost wizard?

Read my post…..

Woody Mann-Caruso 11:44 am 14 Sep 10

I am also a “staunch athiest”, but we are very pleased with the Catholic School our kids attend.

o_O

How did you get your kids into a Catholic school without signing on the dotted line that you’re committed to and exhibit Catholic values, one of which has something to do with believing in an invisible ghost wizard?

KB1971 11:39 am 14 Sep 10

Conder has a bad rep that starts from the top. A good friend of ours pulled their 10 year old out of there last year & sent him to the “dustbowl” & his marks have improved considerably and his behavoir has improved considerably. Conders bullying policy is pretty weak & the Principles attiude is lax. Our next door neighbour pulled their young bloke out of Conder pre-school & changed to Gordon (I wont go into it but the way she was treated I would have done the same thing).

You dont have to be a Catholic to go there so your husbands pride wont be hurt & it is the best school in the area, my girls are going there next year as most of their cousins go there (& some of them dont live in the area). The schools reputation goes way beond what you can read on the internet.

Failing that, try Gordon. Our girls are there for pre-school at the moment & they love it. We considered going there but St Clairs just has more money & sets a higher standard for the sudents.

pptvb 10:30 am 14 Sep 10

JessP said :

It really is about the input that you put into your childs education and their school…its not just about score and bad stories. Schools with less than fantastic ‘stories’ can still have fantastic teachers, dedicated and focussed staff and be a great evironment for your children. Be involved!

Very true.
I am also a “staunch athiest”, but we are very pleased with the Catholic School our kids attend. Sure they get a bit of religion pushed on them, but I see it as just more general knowledge. My kids know how I stand, but how can they question religion v athiesm without knowing both sides?
Pick a school, get to know your childs teacher well, & work with them.
Be involved.

Woody Mann-Caruso 10:22 am 14 Sep 10

You could start by accepting that, statistically speaking, most schools are average. 😉

Charles Conder Primary gets pink and red across the board for NAPLAN results, but that’s less likely to be a reflection of the quality of the school as it is the demographics of the student population. Almost half of Conder kids come from the bottom socioeconomic quartile – throw in the bottom half of the middle quartiles and you’ve got 80% of kids coming from below-average socioeconomic backgrounds. Just 1% of students come the top quartile (compare to somewhere like Fadden Primary, where more than half of students come from the top quartile).

In short, the teachers are really up against it, and it’s entirely possible that they do an excellent job of getting the most out of kids who don’t have the luxury of being born to wealthy, highly educated parents.

If you’re sufficiently well off to be able to send your daughter to Orana, then chances are she already has all the advantages she’ll need to succeed at school – any school, even the ‘average’ ones. Also be aware that:

– there are strong psychological incentives for parents to talk up the value of their $5,000 plus investment in places like Orana
– there’s little evidence that these schools achieve results above what would be expected given the backgrounds of their students, and
– there’s plenty of evidence in the form of schools like Fadden that socioeconomic background, rather than public vs private, is what counts most for results.

Why not give Conder a try for a year, then make a decision?

JessP 10:11 am 14 Sep 10

It really is about the input that you put into your childs education and their school…its not just about score and bad stories. Schools with less than fantastic ‘stories’ can still have fantastic teachers, dedicated and focussed staff and be a great evironment for your children. Be involved!

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