JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

NAPLAN: Independent schools a point or two above the pack in My School rankings

The Canberra Times' league tables of ACT schools' literacy and numeracy scores continue to show that independent schools dominate their Catholic and government counterparts.

Independent schools fared well in years 7 and 9 in particular, while government and Catholic schools seemed to perform better in the primary years.

Torrens Primary School principal Sue Mueller with year 3 students, who have done well in the MySchool NAPLAN results.

Torrens Primary School principal Sue Mueller with year 3 students, who have done well in the MySchool NAPLAN results. Photo: Elesa Kurtz

Funding remains uneven across the education system: severely disadvantaged government schools continue to receive the biggest share of ACT government funds, followed by independent schools, which draw a substantial portion of their revenue from fees.

Meanwhile, Catholic primary schools operate on less than a third of the funds that the most disadvantaged government schools receive, and less than half the budgets of independent schools.

Last week, the My School website published last year's results for the national assessment program for literacy and numeracy, or NAPLAN.

The scores of the ACT's 111 schools, when ranked against each other, show big improvements in year 3 for schools such as Telopea Park, which had improved on every measure since 2012. It moved from 47th to eighth in numeracy and from 21st to third in reading.

Mawson Primary jumped 71 places to come second in year 3 spelling and 17 places to come first in numeracy.

A small group of Catholic schools also dominated year 3 results: Rosary came fifth in reading, third in writing, fourth in spelling, second in grammar and 11th in maths.

Canberra Girls Grammar School, Canberra Grammar and to a lesser extent Radford College - the ACT schools with the highest fees - all dominated the year 5 results. Garran Primary also posted among the top results across the five subjects.

In year 7, Canberra Girls Grammar and Canberra Grammar vied for top places; Lyneham High School made big gains this year on last, coming fifth in reading, sixth in spelling, fourth in grammar and fourth in numeracy. Trinity Christian School improved its placing in three of the five test areas: it came fifth in writing, up from 13th in 2012.

However, the volatility of school performance from year to year was shown in last year's big improver, Burgmann Anglican School, dropping several places in each of the five areas, while still coming in the top 10.

The gender divide in performance across the country was shown in Canberra Grammar - an all-boy's school - taking out the top place in numeracy in years 5, 7 and 9, while Canberra Girl's Grammar was first in writing in all years.

At the bottom of the table, a small group of government schools catering to disadvantage continued to perform below national benchmarks. These schools also showed a correspondingly low index of community socio-educational advantage (ICSEA) scores.

Government schools with low ICSEA scores all received considerably more funds per student than did schools with higher levels of advantage. For example, Jervis Bay School, which has a high indigenous enrolment, receives $32,678 per student, compared with Garran Primary School, the ACT government school with the highest ICSEA score, which receives just $10,957.

Catholic primary schools receive the least funds per child, ranging from $10,341 at St John Vianney's in Waramanga to $7918 for St Anthony's Parish School in Wanniassa.

Australian Education Union ACT branch secretary Glenn Fowler urged parents to ignore the league tables published in The Canberra Times on the basis they were ''crude, unreliable and unnecessary''.

''The NAPLAN tests took place 10 months ago and provide a once-a-year snapshot of literacy and numeracy skills, as demonstrated on an external test,'' Mr Fowler said.

''The results throw up wild fluctuations each year depending on the student cohort and tell us nothing of significance about the quality of teaching at a school. NAPLAN was designed for a diagnostic purpose and never to rank schools.''

He said the best way to find out about a school was to visit one and talk to the principal, the teachers and other parents.

''ACT students perform at the highest levels internationally, and all of our schools are doing great things. Really, you can't go wrong.''

The Canberra Times will publish a second set of tables on Tuesday that show the effect of social advantage on student performance and the ''value-add'' that each school provides its students.

Many of the schools whose raw scores place them on the top of the league tables are ranked much lower when their educational advantage is taken into account.

Conversely, a number of those at the bottom of the raw-score rankings outperform schools with similar levels of disadvantage.

37 comments

  • Is it just me, or does anyone else remember the rock-solid guarantee we received that the data on the mySchools website was set up in such a way so as to make the creation of School League tables impossible?

    Just wondering...

    Commenter
    Dhruid
    Location
    Canberra
    Date and time
    March 10, 2014, 7:36AM
    • Yes. It does seem that as soon as tables are created, people, mainly parents I would guess but media as well, start the "this one's better than that" argument when the intent was to give some indicator as to where there may be room for improvement in individual schools. Measurement has it's place to achieve that but not as a form of competition.

      I've never bothered to look at the myschool site as I was more interested in what the school had in its approach and its teaching staff.

      Commenter
      Faj
      Date and time
      March 10, 2014, 9:59AM
    • Yep, and no-one took is seriously back then either!

      Commenter
      FD
      Location
      Singapore
      Date and time
      March 10, 2014, 10:02AM
  • So the education of a catholic child isn't that important .. sounds like religious discrimination to me. I suspect their parents pay the same taxes, have similar expenses and contribute to the Caberra economy as much as the person next door to them.

    Commenter
    Robz
    Date and time
    March 10, 2014, 7:44AM
    • I understand your concern, but as it points out in the article it is the most disadvantaged schools and not every school that receives such a high level of funding. Public schools have to take all students regardless of their behaviours, so some public schools can have a high level of high demand students.
      Also the article is speaking of ACT funding, "non-government schools receive the majority of their public funding from the Australian Government with state and territory governments providing supplementary funding."- http://education.gov.au/funding-schools.
      I have seen people complain about the opposite, saying why should non-government schools receive substantially more Australian government funding than public schools.

      Commenter
      arj
      Location
      ACT
      Date and time
      March 10, 2014, 9:32AM
    • Sshhhh! your accurate facts and awkward questions you'll wake up the militant atheist brigade who'll flood the article with 'schooling should be secular' comments etc (all the while mis-understanding what secular means) whilst never addressing your very valid point!

      Commenter
      FD
      Location
      Singapore
      Date and time
      March 10, 2014, 9:52AM
    • The education od a child is important, be that child catholic, christian or atheist.
      However catholic schools should if they are crying poor, refer their economic woes to the Vatican. Yes there is no lack of gold lying around in the vaults.
      And to FD Education should be secular. That being according to the Oxford dictionary,
      "Not connected with religious or spiritual matters".

      Commenter
      Hokumatz
      Location
      Japan
      Date and time
      March 10, 2014, 11:23AM
    • Hokumatz

      The idea of a 'secular' Australia state differs from that found in Europe and the US, as our founding fathers made clear in the various constitutional convetions. We can all refer to a dictionary. If you look at the list of other meanings, one which emerges is 'not in accordance with religious restrictions or rules'.

      Australian secularism was built around the belief that the Australian state should be neutral in the Catholic-Protestant troubles and debates. It was never the intention to exclude religion from the state or from schools. In contrast to european or US thinking, which emphasised a 'hard' split between church and state, our system focuses on a 'soft' split between church and state, hence why we have a non-establishment clause in our constitution rather than a traditional 'seperation of church and state' system.

      So, I have no problem with education being 'secular' in the Australian tradition - and that clearly involves teaching children about a generic form of Christianity, in a way that is free from religious restrictions or rules. In other words, the status qou.

      Commenter
      FD
      Location
      Singapore
      Date and time
      March 11, 2014, 9:34AM
  • Get your language right Emma, this is important!

    The independents don't 'trump' the government schools and are not 'a cut above'... - they draw in an advantaged cohort, reject the disruptive and enjoy such resources that it would be incredible for them not to score better in a test such as NAPLAN.

    The school average is no indication of whether these students do better than they would have had they gone to their neighbourhood school, but the way you present it creates a risk that naive weak parents will read it that way.

    An interesting question for the taxpayer funding that is scandalously awarded to these boutiques is whether they are scoring sufficiently more than the government schools given the advantages they enjoy.

    Commenter
    Bill Bosworth
    Location
    Rooty Hill
    Date and time
    March 10, 2014, 9:05AM
    • Yes. In fact, interpreting the same facts differently, public and catholic schools are actually far better value for money than self-selecting independents - particularly public schools which accept all comers including students with first languages other than English, behavioural problems, intellectual disabilities etc which bring the average down considerably.
      And we all know that socio-economic status is the main indicator of school achievement. There is nothing unexpected in this article. So rich, intellectually advantaged people with can choose to go to rich, intellectually (and resource-) advantaged schools. This is not news.

      Commenter
      Mardi
      Location
      Tuggeranong
      Date and time
      March 10, 2014, 1:12PM

More comments

Comments are now closed

Related Coverage

Featured advertisers

Special offers

Credit card, savings and loan rates by Mozo