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The Forum > Article Comments > The launch, the crash and the recovery of My School > Comments

The launch, the crash and the recovery of My School : Comments

By Chris Bonnor, published 1/2/2010

When you get into the business of comparing schools, with all this entails, there can be little margin for error - too much is at stake.

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“Without doubt our parents and the wider community have a continuing right to know that their schools are doing their very best for all our students.”


So where will parents get this information. From a 10 minute parent teacher interview during which it is guaranteed that the teacher will tell the parent that the school is doing its very best for all students, regardless of the school.

I thought the data shown in Myschool was quite mild, and could definitely be added to. Boys and girls marks should be split, so that parents can easily detect feminist schools that have no interest in boys students, (and there are quite a few).

Injury rates for students should definitely be added, as such data is now readily available from business companies and organizations such as councils.

Data showing wastage should also be included at some time, so as to work towards a zero injury / zero waste policy for schools.

I also think there should be surveys undertaken of schools to determine how much a school purchases from Australia, and how much it imports. There is almost nothing left in most schools that is produced in Australia, and when teachers are continually asking for more “government spending” (a term used to hide the fact that this money is actually "taxpayer funding"), then the public has a right to know which schools place any priority at all on purchasing items and equipment from Australia.
Posted by vanna, Monday, 1 February 2010 9:24:41 AM
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Dear Chris

As a former principal and vice president of the Australia Secondary Principals Association I am amazed at the response by educators to this issue. In fact I have always been amazed at the reluctance to accept any notion of league tables and "teaching to the test".

It is the prime responsibility of all schools to develop literacy and numeracy skills in their students. Whatever else they do for students they is important but only in a secondary way. So, it is quite logical to test them nationally on these basic requirements. And to publish the results in a way that parents can make comparisons. To argue against this on the basis that there are a raft of factors as to why schools are different, do other things for students, etc, etc, to just a smokescreen that shows reluctance to be accountable.

Rather, the argument should be for more testing, including testing at a higher level. And arguing for principals to have the right to hire and fire. Let's face it quality teaching to the key and if you can get quality teachers to schools then sound results will follow.

Unfortunately over the last 30 years there has been a shift away from high stakes testing to the detriment of overall standards. The sooner this is addressed, the better. The My School website is one push in the right direction
Posted by Sniggid, Monday, 1 February 2010 12:07:30 PM
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Some of our teachers, strongly aided by the union, & a compliant department, have been hiding behind this politically correct garbage, for too long.

A few years back, one of my kids required a very high OP, to be sure of getting the course she wanted. She was struggling a little with physics, & a little more with math C.

I started working with her, when I discovered her teacher could not have passed a math C exam, & there was no one, in our district who could coach math C. I asked her to bring home, her year 11 mid year exam paper, & her exam, so we could find where her difficulties lay. She was told that these were not available in school, or to be taken home.

After a half an hour of heavy discussion with the head master, including mention of legal action, I got the papers. I was sworn to secrecy as if a co-conspirstor in keeping this secret & dangerous stuff from other parents. I later discovered, they had been using this test paper for 4 years, & didn't want to bother with writing a new one.

This was only one of the unsatisfactory experiences I had with the Queensland education offered to my kids.

So I say, go get them July. For once I'm right behind you, as your policy is heading in the right dirrection. With this system, we should be able to weed out the totally incompetent from our teachers, as they become obvious. I believe, most of the better teachers would like to see this, as much as I, but can't be heard admitting, in case the union's listening.

I can't believe that our better teachers are happy with the "going through the motion" attitude in many of our schools.
Posted by Hasbeen, Monday, 1 February 2010 12:31:49 PM
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Until Myschool is a few years old and able to show which schools are improving, it isn't a great deal of use. In the meantime, a lot can be done.

First, make sure that schools can't cheat in NAPLAN by delivering papers the schools on the day of the test. It is an open secret that some schools coach children to the test, as the papers are received a week ahead of the test. Other schools 'merely' look at the tests and revise the topics covered in it. Does anyone work in a school which actually opens the test papers on the day of the test?

Next, re-introduce school inspectors. Teachers must be the only group of employees who work behind closed doors - literally. Support staff are the only adults who see them at work.

Then there is the right to hire and fire, which is essential. Having experienced both the public and private school systems as a parent, I know there can be a high turnover of staff at either, but the difference is that public school teachers will be off on long service or stress leave, or acting in a higher position elsewhere, while private school teachers are out the door if not up to standard, or taking permanent promotion elsewhere.

Teachers need to be tested too. Basic things like literacy and numeracy, which are no longer a given with the HSC or a Degree. You can't teach what you don't know.

Lastly, the State Governments need to restore funding to support all primary school children with learning problems or delays, so they can do as well as possible when they get to high school.

And it would really help if someone could explain the the Teachers' Unions that they do not, as non-elected public servants, get to set government education policy for their own benefit. If they'd taken that on board years ago, they would have higher standing in the community and probably a lot more pay.
Posted by Candide, Monday, 1 February 2010 1:40:08 PM
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I have a child just gone into a Qld SHS in Y11.

Like Sniggid with the Math C story I fear we are going to have two years of a similar Math B one.

The teacher my child has been landed with is well known, amongst staff and students, to be functionally inept as far as teaching maths goes.

This is not our first experience of this teacher either.

But when this sad reality is raised within the school, or at the local GHQ, there is only a gushing support for the staff member offered.

This has been going on for years... and not just in Maths B.

No amount of Gillard's silly webpage will make any difference to the deafness the education system here in Qld suffers from.

I imagine all states are the same.

Of course, quite reasonably, it could be argued that not all students suffer under this person.

But, sadly, the consensus view of students is that if you cop this one, your results plummet, and you learn nothing beyond what you and your friends can manage to teach yourself.

The remedy? Students go to other teachers for the answers. Sadly, these teachers, while generously assisting with answers, never have the courage to up-end this person's career.

While no one wants to be told they are not up to the task, and it's time to 'shape up or ship out', and obviously there are social workers, coppers, librarians, physicists, truck drivers amnd so on who would all fall within the 'not good enough' category at work, we don't seem to focus too much on the standards involved with league tables on display that promise a 'better future' in these areas.

So, if we are to have league tables, with undeliverably high expectations, then it must follow that we have public humiliations via demotions, retrainings and sackings.

So, let's get on with it, and start asking the students and parents which ones to burn first!
Posted by The Blue Cross, Monday, 1 February 2010 3:17:28 PM
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I think it's great, as long as the data remains quantitative. According to last night's news, old mate Rudd wants to expand the site by getting parents to rate schools in various areas - like initiatives to prevent bullying, extracurricular activities, etc.

The problem with this is that there ARE schools out there whose parent populations are particularly apathetic. The parents at my school are unlikely to know what we do to prevent bullying, to bring up students' results or to generate a caring, responsible community, as they tend not to engage with the school in any meaningful way. With around 2,000 students, we manage to get about 2 parents at each P & C meeting, and about a 10% turnout at parent-teacher interviews. Fundraisers are poorly attended, information nights are crowded with teachers but lacking in parents . . .

All of this is fine - after all, some people don't value education too highly, and others are genuinely too busy to engage with their kids' schools. But I do think it would be unreasonable to ask these parents to rate the schools they have shunned for the duration of their children's education. The data on Myschool is fine - it is factual, quantitative data. Injury rates, suspensions (per 100 students, or something like that, to allow meaningful comparisons), staff turnover - these are all factors that can be measured, and I am happy to see them included. Subjective ratings - not so much.
Posted by Otokonoko, Monday, 1 February 2010 4:12:28 PM
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