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Independent schools dominate rankings

Canberra Grammar slipped in primary school results compared with last year but improved high school outcomes.

Canberra Grammar slipped in primary school results compared with last year but improved high school outcomes. Photo: Graham Tidy

The Canberra Times league tables of literacy and numeracy performance across all schools in the ACT continue to show the dominance of independent schools over government and Catholic schools.

But the wealthiest independent schools continue to spend about one-third more than government schools and, in some cases, double the amount per student of Catholic schools.

The My School website went live on Wednesday with the 2012 NAPLAN scores of more than 9000 schools.

In a raw-score ranking of ACT's 110 schools, one of the biggest performers on this year's league tables was Burgmann Anglican School which outperformed Radford College across all literacy and numeracy domains at Year 7 level. Radford, however, continues to be one of the ACT's best-performing schools in other year levels.

Covenant College also shot into the top three schools in all but one domain at Year 3 level, although these results are likely influenced by the fact that such a small school, of fewer than 150 students, had just 10 Year 3 students sit the test.

Canberra Girls Grammar and Canberra Grammar continued to achieve some of the top rankings across all domains and all year levels, although Canberra Grammar slipped in its primary school rankings on last year and rose in its high school rankings.

Emmaus Christian School also showed among the greatest improvements in Year 7 - leaping upwards of 20 places across almost all domains and coming in the top clutch of schools.

Garran, Mawson and Telopea Park School were among the government schools' top primary achievers while St Bede's and St Joseph's primary schools were among the Catholic school system's top performers.

Despite being shown to spend the lowest amount per student of the three school sectors, Catholic schools generally performed at or above the national average.

In a separate set of figures to be published on Saturday, the Canberra Times will provide league tables which show the impact of social advantage on student performance and the impact of the "value-add" that each school provides its students.

Australian Education Union ACT branch secretary Glenn Fowler said the Canberra Times was being irresponsible in continuing to print league tables which had become "an annual kick in the guts" for the schools which found themselves at the bottom of the table.

Mr Fowler noted that schools such as Jervis Bay Primary - a tiny school of just 60 children, with a high number of indigenous students - had just a handful of students sit the test.

The ACT government operates Jervis Bay Primary through an historical anomaly, and it is also the most expensive school to run, costing $37,043 per student, compared with the ACT government school average of just more than $13,000.

"The smaller the sample, the more meaningless the results," Mr Fowler said.

"Parents can be assured that our teachers are working collaboratively to address a diverse range of needs and public schools proudly cater for all students."

Mr Fowler said neither the raw score tables, published on Friday, nor the Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage tables to be published on Saturday would give any parent an accurate picture of the value of their school.

"These figures must be taken with a grain of salt - these wild fluctuations from year to year where a school can jump 90 places point to the inaccurate and unreliable nature of the data," he said. "It is the performance in a narrow area of study on one day last year - 10 months ago - and no conclusion can be drawn from this about school or teacher quality.''

Mr Fowler labelled the league tables "an adult spectator sport which is completely unhelpful for students". The director of Catholic education for the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn, Moira Najdecki, said, "Any league tables and simplistic ranking of schools are misleading and do not provide breadth of information." Mrs Najdecki said league tables provided "a distorted picture and are of no diagnostic value''. The My School website was never intended as a source of data to form league table.

10 comments

  • Good 'ol league tables! Let's ignore the fact that there are selective schools that weed out anyone who will lower their ranking. Meanwhile other schools accept all comers and work hard to support and educate them. I rather think that the latter is what we should be doing as a decent society. I won't even start on how some 'Christian' schools behave when it comes to education and elitism.

    Two of my children went to 'lowly ranked' schools and scored in the very high 90's in their ATARs over the last couple of years. They had dedicated and supportive teachers. Sure, all schools have their problem kids, but rather than sheltering our kids we thought it more important for them to experience all that society had to offer - and perhaps even help and provide leadership along the way.

    My experience in Canberra is that many parents are more preoccupied with the prestige or networking it bestows on themselves to send their kids to private schools; or that they have an irrational fear of public education.

    I think its time we abandoned these tables and let schools get on with educating our kids rather than trying to engineer league table outcomes.

    Commenter
    victor victor
    Date and time
    March 15, 2013, 7:01AM
    • Actually, many people send their children to Catholic schools because they are Catholic and offer teaching in basic aspects of the faith, not for the so-called prestige or 'fear' of public education. There is still a good social mix at these schools and yes, all schools have their problem kids. Many parents make big sacrifices in order to send their children there. There are just as many tradie utes outside my catholic school as 4WDs.

      Commenter
      Pado
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      March 15, 2013, 8:29AM
  • Wait, don't a lot of these "Private" Schools still receive public fundning. Shouldn't we call them "Part Public" schools or something?

    Some of these places might stop asking for money if we called the 33% Public Schools...

    Commenter
    Hospes
    Date and time
    March 15, 2013, 9:26AM
    • Education should be equally funded for all. Same amount of money per student. For every student... rich or poor.

      At the moment the private schools get about 1/3 the funding of public schools. How is that even close to being equitable?

      Commenter
      cranky
      Location
      pants
      Date and time
      March 15, 2013, 11:31AM
  • The MySchools website and NAPLAN testing are not, and never will be, a reliable indicator of student achievment.

    Anyone wanting to see actual student achievment should simply ignore these idiotic league tables and go and visit the schools in question. There is so much more to educating our young people than a test- and education goes so much further than academic skills.

    Commenter
    HolyShiitake
    Date and time
    March 15, 2013, 10:18AM
    • I an not a huge fan of standardised testing but....when you have large schools you can get a pretty accurate view of how they perform.

      Some schools have 70% of their students in the top quartile and some have 70% in the bottom quartile.

      I know where i would send my kids.

      Commenter
      cranky
      Location
      pants
      Date and time
      March 15, 2013, 11:52AM
  • Just as the costs of my healthcare are partly funded through Medicare, to which I am entitled as a tax paying citizen, so is a small proportion of my child's education costs covered by the state when I send her to a non government-run school. Should we make Medicare means tested? By choosing a non-governement school, and therefore funding the majority of the costs, I have significantly reduced the cost of educating my child for the state. While I think it's worth reviewing the model to ensure there's an appropriate spread and ratios of funding, I'm tired of the all or nothing argument about school funding and state versus non-government schools. BTW in NSW non-government "private schools" are responsible for educating many special needs students, schools like those for the deaf and blind at North Rocks, and many others for children with intellectual disabilities. People try to make it a black and white situation when it simply is not.

    Commenter
    Tired
    Location
    Canberra
    Date and time
    March 15, 2013, 10:25AM
    • Many of ANU's senior academic luminaries with outstanding international reputations were educated in government schools in the days before governments began pandering to the private sector and, incidentally, reducing social cohesion by reducing children's opportunity to rub shoulders with, and gain an understanding of, all sectors of society. Research has shown that, on average, males educated at private boys schools rank lowest on measures of social liberalism. Yet some of these boys, with their elitist world view, will be influential as adults. Is this the kind of society we want?

      Commenter
      Non-elitist
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      March 15, 2013, 11:26AM
      • Is this is the same ANU that ranks lower than UC on teaching performance? (check out http://www.canberratimes.com.au/national/education/anus-teaching-score-confusing-chief-says-20110817-1wujp.html)

        ... no real surprise then

        Commenter
        John121
        Date and time
        March 15, 2013, 7:23PM
    • Why can't politicians and teacher-union bosses just put aside their politicking and prejudices and accept the obvious? Every child should be allocated a fixed amount per head, regardless, by the taxpayer, calculated on the average cost of educating a child in the public education system. Whether the parents choose to use their allocation on public education, or to top it up and spend it on private or Catholic education, would then be up to them. Of course, some schools, such as Jervis Bay Primary, would require some extra public funding, which could be drawn from a special government account created for that purpose.

      Commenter
      Eudaimonia
      Location
      Kingston
      Date and time
      March 15, 2013, 4:28PM
      Comments are now closed

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