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The Forum > Article Comments > Tabling truth on schools > Comments

Tabling truth on schools : Comments

By Brendan Nelson, published 13/7/2009

Lack of transparency in school results hurts poorer families hardest.

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Dear all

I am bemused by the hoo ha going on regarding the publishing of league tables which are all about school performance and how well they educate children.

The NSW teacher's union is only concerned with protecting its members and if NSW government secondary teachers are anything some of my former Victorian colleagues, then their primary interest is in covering up their un professionalism, their ineptitude and their bias

Parents have a right to know what is going in with the education of their children especially as teachers are so well paid and now demand merit based pay. How can you claim merit unless we know what is going on.

Sadly, there are secondary schools (plural) in Victoria where to pass any year all you need is 20%. The Department has been made aware of this fact and instead broken the whistleblower's act and attacked.

But I have worked with teachers who state - 'all this class is dumb', some stating so for classes of ethnic Australian kids due to their own inherent bias, and so do not even try to teach the kids as well as those children deserve.

To claim that poorer schools and poorer families will under perform and so we hide the truth means that we would not even try to help those kids to improve and thus condemn them and their families to eternal poverty and misery.

With broad band internet access and computers now being guaranteed by our federal government under PM Rudd and Deputy PM Gillard, students have access to a world library of information, a wealth of knowledge and the opportunity to do as well as almost any other.

The publication of these tables will force bad teaching practices out and shake up schools that do not try.

And I do not accept that some kids cannot be taught. I have taught tough kids and rough kids, and found that a professional teacher backed by their school will get through and achieve success. Our students and our communities expect no less.

Mr Ange Kenos
Ex secondary teache
Posted by Ange, Monday, 13 July 2009 10:03:24 AM
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When your son or daughter comes home from a job interview saying they didn't get the job because everyone knew they came from a lowly ranked school maybe then you will realise the damage this can do to our young people.
It will stigmatise children from certain schools and probably lead to them closing down and the loss of more local community education facilities.
Why not just privatise the school system and be done with it. Any student who doesn't perform up to the standards can go to bootcamp or gaol maybe.
What do you think will happen to the bottom ranked school each year? A party? A commendation? No it will be ridicule, witch hunts and shame heaped on the staff, the students and the parents. Good job school just what we go there for. A bit of ridicule, shame and disgrace
Posted by mikk, Monday, 13 July 2009 1:51:50 PM
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Added to school comparison tables should be a system to compare current student marks to the marks obtained by students in the past. There is some bench mark testing taking place, and those bench mark tests seem to indicate that on a national basis, student marks have declined over a number of decades (and the education system is going backwards, not forwards).

While school league tables may compare the marks obtained by the students in a school to a state average, the exercise has limited value if student marks across the state are actually declining.

The common excuse from many teachers that declining student marks are because of parents is rather a thin excuse, as who taught the parents?

Added to the now dismal academic record being achieved by the education system is the practice by many schools of importing nearly everything they purchase. This trains the students in the school to use imported items only, so as the students get dumber in time, they are also being trained to buy imported items only.

A double whammy for the Australian taxpayer.
Posted by vanna, Monday, 13 July 2009 2:16:00 PM
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RE Ange Kenos

Mr Kenos, your experience must have been painful.

My experience of the actions of teaching colleagues in a low-socio-economic environment is very different.

My colleagues, and I, believe that all students deserve the opportunity to learn. However, we also recognise that not all students will be provided, or will be able to access learning opportunities in an equitable manner.

These teachers are funding the education of their students by purchasing resources out of their own pockets, to the tune of thousands of dollars every year.

Both international, and national, research has determined that there is a strong link between socio-economic background and school performance.

Socio-economic background is not a DETERMINING factor for every student's learning development. However, socio-economic background is a strong INFLUENCING factor in that development.

There are many other factors at work in our schools:

Attitudes in the home, and peers' home, environment.

A nation-wide absence of funding to enrich school learning opportunities.


The declining attractiveness of teaching as a profession.

Behaviour in the community has set the background to inappropriate student behaviour in Schools.

Related high levels of teacher stress.

Teacher salaries that have not kept pace with other professions, across the country.

Teacher advancement opportunities are too few.

Issues over educational policy and teacher education.

The constancy of change.

The presence of league tables might appear to give parents the opportunity to choose a 'better' school, but the reality is different. Academic performance is only one factor in what makes a good school, albeit an important factor.

Such complex issues are not easily resolved by playing the blame game.

I believe that it is now time to stop allocating blame, and to work towards solutions from non-politically aligned positions.

Our students deserve the best from our school systems.

The present 'one-size-fits-all' model of education will not provide the best for all students.

Please, Mr Nelson, engage in a more appropriate process, alongside your colleagues, your political opponents, and State and Federal Government bodies, than the one outlined in your article.
Posted by RJohn, Monday, 13 July 2009 2:39:37 PM
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Incompetence and corruption love the dark.

Which is the teacher's union trying to protect?

To claim that the league tables can't be published because there are lots of immeasurable factors that aren't included is suggest that the public are imbeciles. No one seriously believes that the table results will be the only factor or even the most important one that parents use to decide where to send their kids.

However, it is the one factor that is easily measured and can be published without risk of subjectivity.

The lame excuse that the poor performing schools will be victimised is pathetic. The failure of a school to educate the children under their care is a serious problem, and to sweep it under the carpet because someone's sensitive to criticism is shocking.

The under performing schools need to be reviewed for the causes, and incompetent teachers should be retrained or sacked rather than continue to damage their wards.
Posted by Shadow Minister, Monday, 13 July 2009 2:58:35 PM
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Shadow Minister

I notice that the issues of adequate funding for schools, and the socio-economic backgrounds of students do not appear on your radar.

Education and learning require both teaching and learning. Underprepared, inappropriate, and under-resourced, teaching will provide a reduced benefit to student learning.

Students, who by virtue of their background are not ready for learning, will not benefit as much as those who are ready for that learning.

I also notice that your solution for underperforming schools is to retrain or sack the teachers.

Given that there is an undersupply of teachers, especially in specialist areas like Maths and Science, do you foresee that the solution could be worse than the problem, as you see it?

Why is there an undersupply? Because Maths and Science graduates, among others, find other careers more attractive than one in which the salary structure, and the career opportunities are far fewer. Add to that the abuse that teachers receive from many students, some parents, and not-a-few politicians, and perhaps you can understand why graduates choose teaching over, other careers, in fewer numbers than ever before.

Would you also consider, as some Governments have in the past, that underperforming schools might benefit from an improved level of provision of both personnel and teaching and learning resources?

One-size-fits-all? The evidence would suggest otherwise.

I also find the comment, at the start of your response, an interesting one for a former Education Minister to make. As a teacher, I find the comment offensive, as you would if it were aimed at politicians.

Again I remind you that I believe that the debate would be better served by dealing with the complex issues, rather than laying the blame.
Posted by RJohn, Monday, 13 July 2009 3:17:03 PM
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