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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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91 Responses to
Private school now the majority
sepi 1:27 pm 19 May 11

Charging for public schools would be the quickest way to make sure only the stony broke attend public schools.

The govt shot themselves in the foot closing all those schools, and the backlash will continue for years and years.

Hackett pre-school was on the closure list, and now has a waiting list as long as the class list.
Macarthur preschool was closed and is now being re-opened (or a new one is opening.)

There was a baby boom about 5 years ago, and all those kids are now entering schools – the govt should have known this was coming.

gravessam 1:20 pm 19 May 11

why are parents who send their children to private schools continually chastised for being ‘dumb and ignorant’?? surely in this country they have the right to choose what they believe is the right path for their child.

why also do people have a problem with private schools getting some government assistance. without it, the vast majority of parents could no longer afford to send their kids to these schools. all that would create would be more pressure on the public sector. they do not receive equal funding so every extra student in the private sector is a net gain to the public sector.

I have no problem with public education and i continue to believe its a fundamental pillar of our society but why do such a vocal (now) minority hate a genuine and more sustainable alternative???

im at loss – am i unreasonable??

dungfungus 1:17 pm 19 May 11

The Macarthur pre-school has been closed and derelict for over 4 years but still proudly displays a sign reading “Public Education Works” Obviously, it doesn’t and it costs us ratepayers heaps by having this disused property not being utilised or sold.
The ACT Labor government do now intend to sell this relic with the same use purpose clause even though it closed over 4 years ago due to lack of patronage. The demographics in this part of Canberra have changed with few new breeding families moving in, a fact that Labor appear to have overlooked. Who in the private sector will want to run a pre-school there? It would be better converted to a senior’s centre or a drug-rehab clinic.
I guess ACT Labor deserve to be called “slowlearners”

shadow boxer 1:14 pm 19 May 11

I was going to post in here but VicePope is doing an outstanding job.

My choice, what is better for my kids, the out of control local high school or the Anglican school down the road, it’s not rocket science people.

VicePope 12:58 pm 19 May 11

To Watson – thanks. I wasn’t suggesting charging for government schools, but that we needed a debate about doing it. Free public education arose a long time ago, in circumstances a long way different from those that apply now. Maybe it’s time to look at whether it is still right and whether public schools would do better if those parents who could pay had to do so. Vouchers are another option altogether.
Disappointing that some have jumped to the line of cutting funding for the preferred and (apparently) more efficient provider. If I was selling hot dogs and you were giving them away, and both were quite good and you were getting a substantial subsidy compared to me, yet people preferred my product, would the answer be (a) punish me in some way to give you a chance or (b) see what you could do better with the advantages you already have? Because that is pretty much what is happening.
And disappointing that some have taken to attacking people who make a different choice to their own as traitors, hypocrites, social climbers and such. People have a thousand reasons for every choice they make and this is just one of them.

Holden Caulfield 12:28 pm 19 May 11

It wasn’t necessarliy my choice, but I went to Catholic schools for all of my schooling, in a few different states, as well. Because that as normal to me, I’ve never really understood why some people have a hang up with private education.

Similarly, and this is especially the case in Canberra, I’ve never really understood why some people have a hang up over public education.

I agree there is a perception out there that private is better, but you’d like to think any self-respecting parent would take the time to properly research all options for their kids, rather than just going for “the best” option. Foolish of me to think that, I know.

Can’t remember if it was on here, or offline that I heard of a couple declaring their toddler would go to Grammar (I think it was) because of the social networks their son would develop.

Watson 12:26 pm 19 May 11

VicePope said :

Agree that someone’s got to start it, and it would be nice if it stayed polite and thoughtful. (Admission – I have/have had family and friends who taught in all systems and were educated in all systems. My own kids went to Catholic schools because they offered things – like single-sex education – that the government system did not and that we thought would help them).
When people prefer one service over another, that is their right. When they service they discard is free (or comparatively very cheap) and the one they choose costs their own money, that means they are exercising their right on non-financial grounds.
For some reason, an appreciable number of people are making this choice in the ACT in relation to education. That is, they are selecting a service for which the public subsidy for each student (Commonwealth and Territory) is significantly less than the public subsidy for each student in the public system. They pay their taxes, and they have a right to some level of subsidy.
The answer is not to penalise the system that is attractive, surely. That is simplistic ideology based on uninformed envy, and it lacks common sense or respect for the rights of others. If there is a public obligation to educate, the forum in which the education is provided is less relevant.
There could be, and should be, a productive debate on how well the system allocates available subsidies to different types of private school. There could be some cold, tough thinking about why this Territory (with excellent government schools) has the greatest proportion of children not using them; this may require some humility on the part of ACT Education, I expect. (Asking those who have left, are leaving or are contemplating leaving might be a good start). Would it be smarter to contract the management of government schools to people who can do it better (from other states or, gulp, the private system?). And, adventurously, is it time we got past thinking that public education should automatically be cost-free when practically every government service is now the subject of a charge and paying for a service is a way of encouraging critical engagement?
I may now retire from the fray.

I agree with the part about choice. I grew up in Belgium where the choice to send your kids to a relilgious school or one supporting a non-mainstream education method is regarded as a right that the government (read: tax payers) should pay for. Therefor there is no such thing as school fees, not for public, not for “private” which they actually call “independent education” in Belgium. And to call parents who choose private schools “traitors who don’t support the public education system” is a bit shallow in my opinion. If you’re religious, you’re religious and you’re going to send your kid to a religious school. And if you think you’re child will benefit from a different teaching method, you base your choice of school on that. If I could afford it, my child might be going to a Steiner or similar school too.

What I do not agree is that you seem to be implying that public education should charge school fees? Which I find a rather ludicrous suggestion. That’s what we all pay taxes for and it should come out of the budget. And I for one would not complain if that budget would allow for more money to go to private education, provided that the extra funding is used to reduce their school fees.

dpm 11:48 am 19 May 11

As the govt seems to give money to both public and private, if the private is becoming more popular than the govt offerings, surely they should at least tweak the funding levels between the two to allow public to be a more ‘attractive’ choice? At the moment, it seems the govt is adding to the prob by funding private schools to be larger/better, while letting their schools run down….?

red_dog 11:47 am 19 May 11

Thumper said :

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

For a left leaning town it shows a fair bit of hypocrisy.

I couldn’t agree more on that one.

red_dog 11:47 am 19 May 11

Thumper said :

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

For a left leaning town it shows a fair bit of hypocrisy.

Sure does.

wrigbe 11:45 am 19 May 11

Actually what it speaks volumes about is the sheep following stupidity of so many parents who will put their children into any private school assuming that it must be better than any public one. What the statistics from Naplan are starting to show (not that I am any great supporter of NAPLAN – it is too narrow a test but that is an argument for another day!) is that private school results are more about the parents socio-economic status than the quality of the education the school provides. Thats not to say that some privates schools are not good … but so are many public schools – particular in Canberra. Have a good look at the results people – you might be pleasantly surprised by your local public school. My local public school did better in NAPLAN in my child’s year than any private school in the surrounding area including one that parents pay a lot of money to send their children too. And in fact most of the schools in the area all did fairly well.

Thumper 11:39 am 19 May 11

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

For a left leaning town it shows a fair bit of hypocrisy.

VicePope 11:38 am 19 May 11

Agree that someone’s got to start it, and it would be nice if it stayed polite and thoughtful. (Admission – I have/have had family and friends who taught in all systems and were educated in all systems. My own kids went to Catholic schools because they offered things – like single-sex education – that the government system did not and that we thought would help them).
When people prefer one service over another, that is their right. When they service they discard is free (or comparatively very cheap) and the one they choose costs their own money, that means they are exercising their right on non-financial grounds.
For some reason, an appreciable number of people are making this choice in the ACT in relation to education. That is, they are selecting a service for which the public subsidy for each student (Commonwealth and Territory) is significantly less than the public subsidy for each student in the public system. They pay their taxes, and they have a right to some level of subsidy.
The answer is not to penalise the system that is attractive, surely. That is simplistic ideology based on uninformed envy, and it lacks common sense or respect for the rights of others. If there is a public obligation to educate, the forum in which the education is provided is less relevant.
There could be, and should be, a productive debate on how well the system allocates available subsidies to different types of private school. There could be some cold, tough thinking about why this Territory (with excellent government schools) has the greatest proportion of children not using them; this may require some humility on the part of ACT Education, I expect. (Asking those who have left, are leaving or are contemplating leaving might be a good start). Would it be smarter to contract the management of government schools to people who can do it better (from other states or, gulp, the private system?). And, adventurously, is it time we got past thinking that public education should automatically be cost-free when practically every government service is now the subject of a charge and paying for a service is a way of encouraging critical engagement?
I may now retire from the fray.

peterh 11:28 am 19 May 11

or the fact that the ACT Govt shut so many public schools? where were parents going to enrol their kids? Now that the independent system has had an influx of students, public education looks the poorer for it. The government should have taken better notice of the birth ratios per year. so many 4,5 & 6yo kids entering a system where there aren’t any schools, having to attempt other feeder areas and resorting to private education as the schools won’t get shut later on.

red_dog 11:01 am 19 May 11

Well it speaks hefty volumes about the perception of the education provided by government schools. Might be time to stop subsidising these private schools from the public purse and let the people who want the ‘superior’ education offered by these institutions pay for it in full?

(someone had to start it)

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