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Private school now the majority

By johnboy 19 May 2011 91

The Canberra Times has the serious news that a majority of parents in the ACT now choose to pay for private education rather than trust their children to the free public system.

According to the latest ACT Department of Education enrolment census taken on February 23, there are now just 9569 students enrolled in government high schools across the territory compared with 9720 in the non-government system.

Apparently this is the first time in Australian history any jurisdiction has recorded such a majority.

For a left leaning town this speaks some hefty volumes about the Education being provided by the Government.

What’s Your opinion?


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Private school now the majority
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Watson 10:08 am 23 May 11

vg said :

“If you think raising your child in a bubble is the best thing for them, fine.”

So you’re saying that sending your kids to a private school is raising them in a bubble. F me I’ve read some sh*t in my life but that nearly takes it.

If private school students are in the majority in high schools in the ACT then couldn’t it be said that the ‘unique’ educational experience is in the public system and they are in fact ‘in the bubble’.?

There are a tranche of parents who send their kids to public school because they couldn’t be assed paying for their kids’ schooling as well. That doesn’t exist in the private school sector

From previous posts it is probably clear that I am NOT against parents sending their kids to private schools and am all for funding them more.

However, I did get “a bit” stroppy becauase of all the insinuations that public schools are full of scum and kids can do what they like there without consequences and people using that as a justification to go private. It is just not my experience with public schools in Canberra. And those kids with behavioural problems are part of our community and need to be cared for too and I am happy we have a public system that doesn’t just sideline them like private does.

And the attitude that (some) kids are only in public schools because their parents don’t care about them and therefor do not want to pay any money for schooling I find quite offensive as a parent of a public school child.

The reason why the debate about public and private gets so heated is that some private school supporters seem convinced that you get what you pay for and therefor parents who don’t pay are bad parents and therefor their kids are scum that they wouldn’t want their kids to mingle with. And on the other hand you get some public school supporters who seem to think that it’s totally ok to use their kids as political pawns in line with their ideology that allows them to feel better than everyone else.

Jeezes…

smilesr 8:34 am 23 May 11

Former Justice Michael Kirby, from opinion and personal experience formed decades ago, is in praise of selective schools which is a big difference to the average public school. If we followed his path of recommendation there would be a three-tier system: private schools, selective public schools with the higher achievers, and then your average public school with the flotsam and jetsam and teachers who would prefer to work elsewhere. And because Canberra is small the effect would be even more extreme than in Sydney where this system is in place.

shadow boxer 8:30 am 23 May 11

Hi Miz,

Sorry established was the wrong word, I went to Lyneham High around the same vintage so I take your point.

The thing people miss when they blindly say “give the nothing” is the economic reality of funding the education system.

50% of kids are now in private school and they receive roughly half the support of a public school child. If we stop funding private schools we would see a 50% increase in kids attending public schools and would need a 50% larger budget just to retain the status quo.

Given the education system is a big ticket item in the budget we are talking billions of dollars, Governments know this and while they are happy to screw the private school parents as far as they dare they will stop short of any mass exodus because we simply can’t afford it.

Wily_Bear 10:56 pm 22 May 11

rosebud said :

Former Justice Michael Kirby said it the most eloquently. It’s people like him who make me proud to be an Australian and send my kids to public school! http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/politics/stop-bagging-public-education-20091202-k4y4.html

The Honourable Justice Kirby does indeed speak eloquently of a public education…of times past. The article you quote hears him bemoan the very troubles that are the genesis of the public to private exodus we are experiencing here in the ACT. The lack of funds,of flexibility and of political correctness preventing children with gifts or talents from having their needs catered to. I would venture to say he would have been one such pupil whose needs would be ignored in todays public system.

vg 10:54 pm 22 May 11

rosebud said :

Former Justice Michael Kirby said it the most eloquently. It’s people like him who make me proud to be an Australian and send my kids to public school! http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/politics/stop-bagging-public-education-20091202-k4y4.html

Yes, he did so much to be proud of. He was a gay High Court judge and……..?

rosebud 9:05 pm 22 May 11

Former Justice Michael Kirby said it the most eloquently. It’s people like him who make me proud to be an Australian and send my kids to public school! http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/politics/stop-bagging-public-education-20091202-k4y4.html

miz 3:30 pm 22 May 11

Hi Shadowboxer. You are incorrect. Narrabundah (which I went to myself in 1979/80) and Lyneham High were not ‘established’ as specialist schools. They were ordinary high schools (N’bundah was actually a high school that later became a college). It was just happenstance that, at one point, they scored teachers who were willing to set up a good music program. In fact, N’bundah had to fight to stay open despite having that program.

When the whole daft ‘OMG we have to have a selling point’ free-market policy set in, those schools were in a position to make the most of those programs. I should add that Melrose used to have a full orchestra (in the 1970s before Colleges took the more experienced musos away) that used to win Eisteddfods. That status went by the wayside after those teachers left.

Quality in public schools is so ‘hit and miss’ at present, though not because of the teachers themselves who are generally very dedicated. However, it is ridiculous that schools are having to find ways to market themselve, not only against private schools but against their own compatriots. All they need is a consistent approach at excellence (this ideal is not in itself a dumbing-down approach), and consistent application of the local community school.

While the last para of my previous post is somewhat off that particular topic, it is relevant to the degree that the ACT Govt should be solely committed to striving for excellence in its own product and not forcing its schools to have to waste time and energy in some kind of false competition. And I stand by my comment that, should people wish to opt out of the public service, that is always open to them, but should not be something that results in the detriment of that public service. IMO, it is erroneous to justify directing government education funds to private organisations.

shadow boxer 2:14 pm 22 May 11

Good post but your last paragraph bears no relation to the rest of the post and just appears to be a cheap shot on the end.

Personally I like to see people striving for excellence rather than all being dumbed down to the mediocre.That’s why schools like Narrabundah and Lynrham were established, to let people strive for something great if they have the aptitude for it.

miz 10:54 am 22 May 11

The decline in the ACT Public School system started with the ACT Liberals allowing parents to ‘choose’ an out-of-area public school. This has resulted in public schools (within the one system) having to waste valuable time and resources ‘competing’ with other public schools, and trying to ‘stand out’ by offering specialty subjects at which they excel.

I have no probs with a school being known as an excellent music school (for example), but when that school takes resources away from other schools in the system and other schools decline through a lack of enrolments, there is a problem. This is also exacerbated by the unevenness of teacher transfers. Why would a teacher invest in the school when they know they will have to be moved in five years? It also feed the perception that certain schools are ‘better’ because they are more established (which in some cases is true due to lack of funding post-self-govt). Unfortunately, ACT DET continued to deny problems and unjustifiably boast about the ACT’s school system for years to exonerate itself from genuine reform (and I don’t mean those doorstops me full of ridiculous and unworkable policy jargon that get issued to schools from time to time).

The key is CONSISTENCY. This could be achieved if there is a strong requirement for children to attend their LOCAL school. In line with this, all public schools should offer a good, consistent standard of all subjects, as used to happen in the 1970s when ACT public schools were far superior to any private school in the ACT.

Personally, I don’t want an A class orchestra, but would like my children to get the opportunity to learn an instrument (of which there are never enough unless you attend Lyneham High). I don’t want them to be a sports star in a TSP program, but would like them to have the opportunity to learn all subject matter at a consistent level regardless of which school they attend in the ACT.

I am hoping the national curriculum will at least provide some kind of consistency, as it is clear to me that the decline in ACT Public education has been happening since the 1980s. It just wasn’t obvious for some time. Now, people who attended ACT public schools themselves have kids in the system, and are so appalled they are switching to the private system.

I therefore fail to see why the local government provides any subsidy to private schools, as that is just assisting the ‘rot’ to set in. They should be solely focused on public schools, which are for everyone. If parents decide to opt out, that is their ‘choice’, but it is not a matter for government.

Innovation 4:13 am 22 May 11

What are the per capita stats for private vs public based on income and parental education levels? Doesn’t the ACT have a higher average income and more adults with tertiary education levels?

My partner and I were divided on private vs public. Our child finally went private and we now both agree that it was the best choice.

Downsides of public were the poor quality and management of some teachers, dumbing down of children to include everyone, poorly controlled bullying and drugs, inadequate facilities and (then) optional uniforms.

Downsides of private are (or are likely to be) cost, overstressed children, poor exposure to broader society, elite behaviour based on wealth and parental status and, in time, exposure to drugs. Neither of us are Catholic but we are using RE studies as a basis for teaching common sense social values and broader theological awareness.

Initiatives in public schools such as allowing principals to hire, fire and suspend students and paying good teachers better will help but former students are unlikely to go back and it will take time for new students to build up. Additional funding is needed for socially disadvantaged children including full time counselors and/or psychologists, specialist teaching for those with serious problems, and to maintain equipment and books that are more likely to get damaged as a result of antisocial behaviour.

I don’t know what the current ratio is of funding for public vs private but I would endorse reduced private funding if it was redirected and dedicated for specialised and unique public school needs.

vg 8:08 pm 21 May 11

“If you think raising your child in a bubble is the best thing for them, fine.”

So you’re saying that sending your kids to a private school is raising them in a bubble. F me I’ve read some sh*t in my life but that nearly takes it.

If private school students are in the majority in high schools in the ACT then couldn’t it be said that the ‘unique’ educational experience is in the public system and they are in fact ‘in the bubble’.?

There are a tranche of parents who send their kids to public school because they couldn’t be assed paying for their kids’ schooling as well. That doesn’t exist in the private school sector

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