Media Watch

 APRIL 2018

  • Interesting report from The Guardian on disadvantaged schools
  • Fairfax does a quick cut of My School school funding figures to tell us what we already know: 'Private schools getting $6700 more per student than NSW public schools'.  More interesting is 'Richest private schools get payment from $7m government 'slush fund'. i.e. the fund to ease them into their new era of 'cut-backs' (?) Again on funding it appears (The Age) that Victoria is signing up to the 80:20 (actually 75:25) funding arrangement.
  • The 80:20 / 20:80 Gonski 2.0 funding plan has come under deserved criticism and the problems won't go away. For a clear explanation of these problems, read When 20 and 80 don't add up, by Lyndsay Connors and Jane Caro. Also from Lyndsay Connors, an outstandingly worded challenge to the Victorian Catholic Education Commission's robocalling stunt druing the Batman by-election. Answers are needed!
  • Fin Review reports (April 4) that the Gonski 2.10 review will be released later in April and will recommend stronger evidence-based teaching.   
  • David Hetherington (Public Education Foundation) has wrapped numbers around student underachievement and come up with a price tag of increasing inequality. Widely reported: ABCSMHGuardian. Adam Rorris did a similar exercise around retention rates two years ago.
  • If you want to do well as school it seems you have to choose your grandparents as well as your parents. SMH reports on new research.
  • Issues surrounding selective schools aren't going away. This time it is about the distances students travel to these schools. SMH April 4.​
  • More on the Barbara Preston's latest landmark Social make-up of schools report has just been released. Trevor Cobbold provides a useful summary 


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.