AUSTRALIAN COUNCIL FOR THE DEFENCE OF GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS
PRESS RELEASE 303
WHEN WILL OUR POLITICIANS PROVIDE GENUINE ACCOUNTABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY?
Our politicians and media appear determined to push ahead with failed models of accountability and discredited league tables in an attempt to identify, close and privatize ÔfailedŐ schools.
It is time that they were reminded that they themselves are the failures in this regard. A recent Commonwealth AuditorŐs Report No. 45 2008-09 Performance Audit entitled Funding for Non-Government Schools indicates that there are substantial margins of error involved in the administration of government funding of private church schools.
League tables: Was Ken Boston Misreported?
According to The Australian August 12, 2009, Ken Boston, an erstwhile Director of public education in New South Wales, and most recently the chief executive of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority in England has argued that chronically underperforming schools should be closed and their principals or teachers sacked. He is also said to be urging principals to accept national testing and extra scrutiny through transparent reporting. The editor of the Australian, alongside their reporter Kevin Donnelly have been arguing for public exposure of national test results and support the publication of results by the Courier Mail.
Publication of school test results might sell newspapers. It is another question whether it will improve the lot of disadvantaged children ion under funded public schools. The Labor Government has been alleging that they were dealing with disadvantaged schools since 1973. This was the rationale behind the giving of State Aid to private religious schools. State Aid has widened the gap between rich and poor and denied some students the choice of a high quality public education.
But DOGS are wondering just exactly what it was that Ken Boston said. The NSW Teachers Federation appears to have a different view to the Editor of The Australian . The following are the contents of their 10 August Press Release.
League Tables condemned: Former Director-General, Ken Boston, speaks out
At a forum in Sydney today, sponsored by the Australian Primary Principals Association (APPA), former NSW Director-General of Education, Dr Ken Boston, slammed school League Tables.
Participants at the forum, from public and private schools, heard Dr Boston set out the lessons to be learned from England about the dangers to be avoided in applying the results of national testing (NAPLAN) in the reporting of school performance.
Dr Boston said that while the national transparency agenda could achieve positive outcomes, the misuse of the results of national testing could lead to a narrowing of the primary school curriculum and reduce the educational outcomes of students. He warned that appropriate safeguards must be in place to ensure the national transparency agenda has a positive impact on education.
'National testing can be a great resource in identifying how funding should be directed to schools to balance strengths and weaknesses across the system.
'However, the purpose of testing must be clear, specific and agreed and used only for its intended purpose.'
'National data can tell us a great deal about the performance of like schools and is an extremely useful diagnostic tool,' he said. However he warned that constructing League Tables is not one of the legitimate uses for testing.
A full critique of League tables can be found on the Save our Schools site at
Where does Public Accountability Really Lie?
Since the privatisation of education commenced with the provision of millions of dollars of State Aid in the 1960s, our politicians have not only abandoned their responsibility for public accountability of billions of dollars of public money. They have placed greater burdens of responsibility on principals, teachers and pupils in the name of accountability, but in the process they have muddied the waters of growing disadvantage, a fractured society, and commodification of education. The choice of a free, secular and universal education should be the right of every Australian child, not a commodity to be bought at the behest of religious men and international corporations seeking profits.
AuditorŐs Report No. 45 2008-09 Performance Audit entitled Funding for Non-Government Schools
This report contains a number of concerns. Yet it has been met with a deafening silence from both the mainstream media and our parliamentary representations. For example, the Auditor reports:
NAO sampling revealed that around 10 per cent of agreements with
Non-systemic schools were not properly executed. Although the administrative
Impact of most of these errors may be low, for the two agreements that were
not signed by the Australian Government, the department did not meet the
Requirements of the relevant legislation before paying the grants to schools.
The department checks a sample of non government schoolsŐ
Enrolment data annually. However, it makes limited use of other data sources
that would assist with targeting its compliance activities. The department
advised that it is consulting with the States, Territories and school system
authorities on data sharing arrangements to assist in identifying potential
grants overpayments, including fraud in the program. Extending its
consultation and negotiations on data sharing to include the school systems,
would also improve the departmentŐs targeting of checks on the accuracy of
non government schools census data.
There are many other concerns raised by the Auditor General. But all that State Aid to church schools has ever proved is that it is impossible to obtain proper accountability for what now amounts of billions of dollars of taxpayerŐs funds.
The only way around the accountability problem, the disadvantaged schools problem, the inequality problems and the State within the State problem is the abolition of State Aid to private church schools.