Media Watch


Edu-comment: After the early work done by Bernie Shepherd and Chris Bonner on these matters it is so rewarding to see our findings confirmed, improved and expanded by the Grattan Institute, amongst others. Good work from Peter Goss and Julie Sonnemann. More comments in Pearls and Irritations.

MARCH 2019
* Trevor Cobbold shows how under new agreements public schools will only be ever funded at 91% of the national resource standard at best, while private schools are guaranteed to be funded at 100% of the standard or more by 2023.Most state governments have walked away from their funding obligations. It threatens huge costs to individuals, society and the national economy. * Following the corruption aound uni entry in the US, Kellie Bousfield shows how 'Aussie parents are under pressure to buy their kids academic advantage too'The Convo * Conflict of interest: The AEU has raised concerns that the previous head of ACARA is now working with Pearson * 'Funding Increases for Private Schools Continue to Outstrip Increases for Public Schools' A very significant contribution: Trevor Cobbold creates a 'level playing field' comparison of school funding to come up with alarming figures and trends. * SMH reports on some submissions to the current review of NAPLAN. Funny how the private school peak group seems at odds with principals! On the matter of testing, the SMH reports that PISA is set to change. * 'The ups and downs of school fees' We are going to hear more about school fees. Here is my wider perspective in Policy Forum.




Edu-comment: The investigation by the ABC takes up where Bernie Shepherd and I left off. Our first report on this was over two years ago and since then given oxygen by the Centre for Policy Development. More mainstream media and researchers should be doing this work - but then again, they don't all have the talents of people like Inga Ting !


Edu-comment: The Anglican schools say the discrimination is needed so the schools can maintain their  ethos and values. I did asked whether this means that chaplains in secular schools should be given the axe. Another reality is that if we are going to battle discrimination we have a long fight ahead! 





Edu-comment: Two comments on the Ruddock review:

1. Current discrimination is now, after the plebiscite, way out of step with public opinion.

2. The freedom of private schools to discriminate is unconscionable, given their level of public funding.     But...this could be a debate we had to have...triggered by those who probably didn't want any debate at all. More in Pearls and Irritations. 



Funding Wars:

The headings of the following articles tell their own story. The Fairfax media journalists and editorials are consistently critical:

The Murdoch Press, not unsurprisingly, gives columns to Catholic system lobbyist from the Victorian Catholic Education Commission, former liberal MP, Stephen Elder and his attempt to answer critics. The Australian which is behind a pay wall, had these articles on the Funding Wars:

Edu-comment:  I'm starting to research the public cost of school choice and duplication of schools. So far I've found that competing small gov and non-gov schools in 100 NSW towns cost governments (state and federal) $30m extra each year. Watch this space!


JULY 2018

JUNE 2018

MAY 2018


Edu-comment:  If general data is a guide, the "swing" is mainly to high SES public schools. Choice in Victoria has seen thousands cross Melbourne each day to such schools. How can any public school authority be expected to fund this while also having to provide quality schools for every child, everywhere? Choice Vs equity, yet again!



Edu-comment:  I found this amusing. Two warriors from the Centre for Independent (?) Studies wrote for today's (May 1) SMH. But they also have a tabloid version of the same article in the Daily Telegraph. Be sure to remember this when they next complain about schools "dumbing down" what they teach. 

APRIL 2018

MARCH 2018


Edu-comment:  If you don't remember Goulburn then you are too young! Perhaps the Catholic schools hierarchy should stop worrying about the future and take another look at how much their schools are getting now. There would be recurrent funding savings if their Goulburn students attended the local public schools. See Pearls and Irritations





Edu-comment:  Those in favour of selective schools (e.g. in the SMH Jan 15), offer some token ideas, but still don't address their impact on those unselected. Such arguments date from when there were half a dozen selective schools. There are now close to 50, forming almost 10% of secondary schools. We don't have selective schools, we have a two-tiered public education system. Time to reframe the debate!



Edu-comment: This is a wake-up call. Basically the states must reduce their private school funding and increase funding to their public schools if the 80:20 arrangerment is to work. Put your hand up if you can see this happening!           I didn't think so.  


  • Phew! We are gaining ground in the Year 4 international league table (according to Progress in International Reading Literacy Study - PIRLS) .....reports the Guardian. Let's face it, nothing else matters (?) 
  • BUT The Canberra Times reports that the report shows that ACT was the only Australian jurisdiction to slip backwards. A quick look at My School suggests that a widening socio-educational advantage (SEA) gap between ACT schools is a big part of the problem.  
  • I'm wary about 'hero-principal' reports but Lateline's John Stewart has reported fairly on success at Tamworth's Hillvue school. And Pete Goss at Grattan shows more widely how we can and should be a more adaptive education system. Read his report. Good advice for the Gonski panel.


Edu-comment: The Herald report starts with: Australia's "misplaced reliance" on parental choice and competition between public and private schools may have created the conditionsfor declining school performance....       Interesting report, but if some bits seem familiar it could be because you've been following our My School findings.




Edu-comment: The Herald editorialises on advantages of public schools, including opportunities for social immersion. Sorry SMH, the evidence from My School data shows that, for the most part, social immersion is not considered a plus by large numbers of families.

Edu-comment:  Have you written up your Gonski 2.0 submission yet? It is due early November. I've conjured up a few things to think about in 'A rare opportunity to fix schools' in Pearls and Irritations and also in Inside Story


also see



  • This year's NAPLAN moral panic is because results haven't shifted much in ten years. Of course they haven't: how can we expect the strugglers to lift their results (and hence the totals) when they are increasingly, and literally, in a class of their own? Reports in the SMH, also ABC News
JULY 2017


Edu-comment:  If we are after equity and overall improvement in student achievement then selective schools are a blight on the education landscape. In a previous life my school was ambushed by the establishment of a selective school nearby. They are a classic illustration of possible advantage for some coming at the expense of everyone else. They are no solution - just another part of the problem.  


  • Quite a detailed explanation of Gonski 2.0 is on ABC Fact Check.
  • Terms of reference for the Gonski 2.0 review available here. Information about the reviewers available here.  Fin Review points to Ken Boston as the key to its work. Ross Gittins shows the economic importance of getting it right. But in a timely warning Trevor Cobbold highlights recent research showing the real problems faced by disadvantaged students. If we don't fix this then not much else will work!! Trevor also reports on recent research indicating the critical importance of school-community links. 
  • Every couple of years the CIS flies the wealthy-public-school-parents-should-pay-fees kite. They are at it again. David Gillespie has a sharp response in The Courier Mail. Actually they do pay fees - they are called taxes.
  • The Gonski 2.0 panel has been formed.....mainly school-based people plus Ken Boston and Lisa O'Brien. Ross Gittins ponders the task facing Gonski's second review. (Fairfax July 12). 

Edu-comment:  Educators will welcome school-based people on the new Gonski panel. Simon Birmingham wants them and us to think outside the square. BUT will that happen if schools are still straitjacketed by external pressures, drivers and measures, especially in assessment? What place will there be for initiatives like this? And is efficiency and effectiveness (in the terms of reference) just a school/classroom issue, when the way we establish and resource schools reeks of these problems? 

  • I ask whether the dust has really settled on Gonski, esp as they are currently providing 23% of Catholic school public funding ....and Matthew Knott writes on the problems facing state governments (like the need to cut private school funding). And while on funding, the ritual reporting of public school fee collections is on again, this time Fairfax.


June 2017

Vale Bernie Shepherd AM
Many people will know that Bernie has lost his battle against cancer, just two days after our latest report appeared - and in a week in which his work helped shape momentous decisions. His commitment and contribution just seemed to never stop in his final weeks, and he helped make sure it will continue. Read more about Bernie here - and I'll be saying more later about this remarkable educator, leader, researcher... and friend. CB.