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The Forum > Article Comments > Investing in education - private, selective and the rest > Comments

Investing in education - private, selective and the rest : Comments

By Alex Sanchez, published 13/4/2005

Alex Sanchez argues in NSW it is a three tier education system: private, selective and the rest.

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The evidence simply does not support the popular belief that sending a kid to a comprehensive public school means they'll get a lesser education. Mr Sanchez seems to have bought this idea, lock, stock and barrel. This is often propaganda, partly put about by parents who are spending a fortune on private schools and so feel compelled to justify their decision by slagging off the local public school, but, and here I agree with Mr Sanchez, the selective schools are also responsible. (Along with our Federal and State Govts)
Let me set the record straight according to the evidence about education.

1. More kids from private and selective schools get into Uni. On average they gain a 5 mark advantage.
2. However, this is because they educate more kids from a higher social class than do public comprehensive schools.
3. Study after study shows it ain't private or public that make the difference; it is social class.
4. Studies also reveal that selective schooling is only really good for the very highest achievers. The next best kids do worse in selective schools than in comprehensive schools, because they feel worse about themselves. (This was exactly my daughter's experience in an OC class, we knocked back a place in a selective school and she is now doing splendidly in a comprehensive school.)
5. Students from comprehensive public schools are doing better at the end of their first year at Uni than students from either private or selective. The order of advantage is precisely reversed.
6. Private coaching at year 11 and 12 is fine, but lots of my friends with kids in private schools are paying for extra coaching on top of private school fees. That is a killer.

By the way, I am a public school lobbyist, with many articles published on the subject, and not a supporter of selective schooling.
Posted by enaj, Wednesday, 13 April 2005 1:39:32 PM
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I am for Selective schools. I do agree, however, that these schools are not for everyone - but students that are academically inclined and can bear the burden of extra work that needs to be done - should definitely be given the opportunity to better themselves.

The society is catering for different levels of academic abilities, and I feel that is great. It should not be a one-size fits all solution, because that can only mean we are catering to the least academically able.

The competition has been increasing year-over-year for children to gain admission to these schools. That in itself speaks volumes. Everyone wants the best for their children, and if the children can bear with the more demanding environment that these schools present, it will be best for them.

Private coaching for this can be fairly expensive but cheaper solutions have started finding their way into Australian households. I speak of online practice test environments such as
that will surely become the way of the future. Tools like these, when used with guidance from parents, or in conjunction with other coaching can be extremely effective in preparing children for the test.
Posted by TerryK, Wednesday, 12 April 2006 1:45:37 PM
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Alex details the current NSW story. I am a parent of a student entering year 7 this year and we decided on a government non selective high school over a private or selective high school. His school is located in inner city Melb and has a student population which is predominantly angol saxon middle class. The school has good and improving VCE results but has elected not to push a selective stream as there is a long held tradition of social justice within the school tradition and a belief there should be a mix of abilities in each class and a strong VET program which has a tendency to lowre VCE results overall. Selective programs are being taken up by several Melb government schools as a way of trying to reposition a school to make themselves more attractive to the middle class. The school my son attends has had enrolment quotas existing for a number of years allowing them (by concious choice or not) to select on prescribed criteria such as music, which again works to the advantage of the middle class who tend to push their children into music, sport,etc. As described you end up with the private sector(cost, practices such as shunting off poorly preforming students, variable resources in the poor Catholic sector, Questionable old school tie attitudes), hard to get into high schools(selective programs, plenty of the punters lining up to get in) and the rest( poor performing high schools which are half full and have high concentraion of kids without the resources to go elsewhere).

The whole system seems dysfunctional and designed by default to fail a large group of the population which more than anything else needs an education which will allow them some real level of participation in the the future world of work.

Posted by pdev, Monday, 24 July 2006 2:45:21 PM
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i am 4 selective. i use to attend one, and let me tell you that i loved it. the experience and lessons it taught was just fabulous.

many complain about tutoring 2 get it. everyone does it, just coz you don't do it, stop whinging if you don't get it. it is a fact of life.

if you think that the kids perform better in comprehensive, ya, they do, i could drop out of a selective, attend the nearest comprehensive, and top it. point proven by a girl who did that, she was pratically last in all her subjects, and topped all her subjects in her new school. yeah, the standards right? shows something.

selective schools are for the ppl who enjoy challenges. we are those who do better (i sound arrogant, i know) but we put in so much hard work at school, are placed under pressure to do well, and when the results come back, we do DO well. compared to the normal mainstream comprehensive high schools. selective dominates the top 10 for a reason. we ain't just a bunch of idiots who were coached n got it. we were coached, refined, and then are placed in the world.

sif we do crap in uni... it depends on the course i guess, i mean, my friend in the medicine course is topping it, school? selective. enuf evidence?
Posted by kawaii fob, Thursday, 26 October 2006 12:21:06 AM
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