Media Watch 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.
Losing the Game is the latest report from Bernie Shepherd and myself on the state of our schools as revealed by the data behind the My School website. Launched in this busy 'Gonski' week, it has been reported in the Australian Financial Review, The Guardian, various radio and TV, blogs etc...with more to come. We have a synopsis of sorts in Pearls and Irritations. I still have mixed feelings about the current legislation but we won't find any way to the future unless we cancel out the flawed decisions of the past (amply illustrated in Losing the Game) and correct the disasters they have created
More in the Gonski wash-up. Trevor Cobbold shows how Gonski 2.0 entrenches structural incoherence and inequity in school funding. Grattan's Peter Goss and Julie Sonnemann (The Conversation) spell out why they see it as a policy victory. Matthew Knott (Fairax) explains the eventual compromise - and how it all came about.....and what ot means for state government funding.  Gabrielle Chan in The Guardian calls it a policy and political win for the Coalition. Jane Caro in The Saturday Paper questions the funding carve up....and Paul Karp (Guardian) can't see the states delivering their share. Tony Walker (Fairfax) says that the top private schools will be big winners.  
More in this big late June week. We watch school funding history repeated as Fairfax reports 'Turnbull buckles to Catholic schools'. Jane Caro in The Guardian cuts to the chase in an analysis of the Gonski journey. On a different topic, Emma Rowe unpacks school enrolment data in The Convo (June 19)
What an amazing 'Gonski' path was been woven in the last few weeks - and it isn't over. The game seems to change every day. There has been ample media on current events. The explanation of Catholic school funding in The Convo by Jessica Gerrard is a good read, as is Julie Doyle's explanation in ABC News. The intervention by Gonski panelists Ken Boston and Kathryn Greiner were well reported. 
We've been working on recommendations to go with our report and are being upstaged almost daily. Fairfax revealed Birmingham's offer to speed up the funding and also establish a National Schools Resourcing body. Great news if it comes off. Watch this (and any) space!

MAY 2017


Edu-comment:  A response is surely needed to the various claims coming from some Catholic school authorities and advocates, especially the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn. Please read our response: 'Catholic school funding - the game has changed, get used to it ...and let's re-run Goulburn 1962'. 


  • Gonski 2.0, May 3. An essential move, notwithstanding great difficulties and reservations. Various reports in the SMH, ABC News,  Comments on the politics from Mark Kenny, Jacqueline Maley, more to come..... Peter Goss explains much more in The Conversation. More explanation in The Guardian, as well as a round up of various reactions. The SMH lists the schools facing early cuts....maybe this is the time to re-read Peter Browne on the politics of school hit lists.  
  • The fantasy of Gonski funding. Much of this CIS report is quite good (if not original) - but the conclusions come straight from the CIS ideology tool kit. The Gonski review was fine - until Labor and the non-govs butchered the recommendations. Not sure how CIS can lament Gonski NOT being implemented while also suggesting it be abandoned.

APRIL 2017


Edu-comment:  Are schools "overcrowded" - or is there just a very expensive lopsided distribution of students? If 42% of schools are full then 58% have space. Most of these are lower ICSEA schools. Families with the resources have scrambled to get into higher ICSEA school in any sector. Solution: make all schools the school of choice for all families. It would cost less in the long run. 



Edu-comment:  The fun bits about school funding are the claims by the Victorian non-gov lobbies. There aren't enough 'f' words to describe what they say....I've added 'fibs' to the collection on the left. They have given me weeks of edu-fact check material. At least the Catholic groups acknowledge My School data - even if Stephen Elder gives it a twist. The Independents' contribution exists in some parallel universe! 



MARCH 2017
Edu-comment: I've had a quick read of the Mitchell Institute's  'Preparing young people for the future of work'. It's about the need to transform senior secondary education and revitalise apprenticeships. But they ignore innovative school designs that are successfully linking school curriculum and work. I'm over reports which reframe problems without investigating working solutions....including as shown on ABC Lateline this week.      


Two significant contributions from Trevor Cobbold. In 'What's behind Australia's tottering PISA results' he looks well behind the headlines and superficial responses. Trevor also examines the resources gaps between advantaged and disadvantaged schools.
  • 'School choice: How parents select high schools — a look at Australia' This interesting research which focuses on Melbourne, is reported on in a US publication. It can also be downloaded.  
  • The media variously reports on the Grattan Institute findings on disengagement amonst school students, including misgivings from many high profile educators.
Edu-comment: Recent Grattan work has made a great contribution but this time they didn't join all the dots. It's not just about doing things in school better - it's about doing school itself differently. Just ask Ken Robinson and many others. Check out the Big Picture schools. It is time to take the blinkers off.    

  • The usual January reports on the hike in private school fees in the SMH ((Jan 17). Geoff Newcombe says "The comparatively low levels of per student funding for students in independent schools is a major saving to the taxpayer". Not any more: watch this space.  
  • Quiet so far in the new year - apart from Kevin Donnelly who has contributed a few bits to News Limited rags....which I don't read unless I fly somewhere. But Kelsey Munro has written a thoughtful piece in the SMH (Jan 7) on Gonski possibilities for 2017. 


Edu-comment: The SMH names schools, including Malek Fahd Islamic School, where HSC results seem to defy their low SES status. But enrolment into Year 7 at that school is "based on an interview, academic and behavior reports as well as results of a selective exam undertaken in the year previous to enrolment." It is effectively a selective school. The SMH writers should have checked. 


Edu-comment: The Grattan report deserves oxygen and support. While not addressing all problems, in the absence of the 'full Gonski' it could be a breakthrough. Keep an eye on those vested interests which will make approving noises .... while undermining real progress. We've been there before, most recently after Gonski reported in 2012. See my further comments in Pearls and Irritations. 
  • 'Private school students no happier than public school pupils' Herald Sun Nov 25. Better still, read Laura Perry's research on which it is based, or the abstract here. Her findings show that students' educational experiences are similar between private and public schools with similar socio-economic compositions.  


Edu-comment: Trevor Cobbold's well-argued submission really demands a response from the COAG ministers. His published analyses have never been seriously challenged. Maybe the non-gov school peak groups will come up with a considered response? I can't see it happening: it is easier to go for the player and not the ball.  






Edu-comment: These revelations won't go away. As Bernie Shepherd and Chris Bonner have reported, the anomalies just keep mounting. The often hostile responses to every new revelation look more and more inadequate. Certain school lobbies and peak groups need to come to grips with new realities and abandoned old 'explanations'.  CB





The blow-up over Gonski and school funding continues...

I'll try to get these in date sequence:
Want to see what's new going back to 2008? Click here


Edd Doerr: Americans for Religious Liberty on the situation in the USA:


Education joined half a dozen key policy areas that didn't get a headline in the Oz election. Lyndsay Connors stated the education priorities in Pearls and Irritations.' This is an interview with John Vallance of Sydney Grammar who has some twinges of cncern about inequities in education.

'Uneven playing field: the state of Australian schools' This is a report by Chris Bonner with Bernie Shepherd, released on June 1 by the Centre for Policy Development. Reported in the Fairfax media June 1. Comment from Matthew Knott. Also reported in Guardian Australia. There is a brief version in Inside Story June 1. Also The Morning Show, Channel 7 June 2.

APRIL 2016

Bonnor's School Daze is available at

This is a good read.

MARCH 2016

MARCH 2016


  •  'Australian schools are entrenching division and inequality' Rizina Yadev and Sam Wolfe in the Fairfax papers, Feb 10. A piece by recent school graduates. Although they refer to Scandinavian examples they neglect to note that private schools are not publicly funded in Finland.
  • 'We aren't as equal as we think' NSW Department of Education report finds' SMH Feb 9. Find the report here
  • The Centre for Independent (?) Studies has engaged Jennifer Buckingham and a colleague to try to counter myths about private schools. Her op ed was in the SMH and apparently in The Oz. There are serious flaws in her paper (if it really is hers). I'll post a response in a couple of weeks. But do read it; the author/s found a publicly subsidised private school with a lower ICSEA than surrounding public schools. Chris Bonner says he will donate a dollar to their preferred charity for every other one they find. My money is safe!  
  • There is a deluge of studies showing whether money makes a difference to student achievement. Trevor Cobbold reports on the latest.






I'm enjoying the Ravenswood 'Captain's pick' of what to say to her school at and the media response, including the letters. Interesting that, in another context, our new PM talked on the same day about the need for risk taking and the lessons from failure. All schools could learn from both messages. See Press Release 631


  • Interesting Fact Check from the ABC on what constitutes a private school and where Australia stands.
  • It should be noted that in the 1960s when the proportion of students attending government schools was much larger - and growing. In 1964 we had the opportunity to bring all our chidlren together in one major public system. We failed. The blackmail of the major parties by the Catholic DLP vote, and the eventual dominance of their ranks by members from this background, opened the floodgates of pblic funding of private, sectarian education. however, DOGS predicted in 1964 that Australia would become a divided community, falling behind the rest of the civilised world. We are well on the way. Yet our current government will not be satisfied until all our schools are 'autonomous', privatised institutions.  Madness!



So-called 'Elites' abuse Povos from Public schools on VCE Facebook and parent ZARA tells the 'naive' why she sends her children to private schools. Now we know.






JULY 2015

      Naplan test stagnation

JUNE 2015

MAY 2015

APRIL 2015

On April 1stOnline Opinion published an article entitled Funding private schools a public good’, written by Stephen Elder. Mr Elder’s article rests on the common claim that governments substantially save money when students attend non-government schools. But Bernie Shepherd’s analysis of recurrent funding ofCatholic schools in Victoria suggests a very different story. Rather than representing a saving, the amount given to run Victorian Catholic schools each year is over $50 million dollars more than that given to similar government schools. The data on how much money goes into school bank accounts, and where it comes from, is on the My School website for all to see. It is now up to Mr Elder to clearly source and justify his claims. Update: Mr Elder now has a second article in OLO with some more odd claims. For what it is worth I've added some comments.  

MARCH 2015






  • This is a must, not only for what it says but for who is saying it: The Worst of Both Worlds: How the US and UK are Influencing Education in Australia by Stephen Dinham, ACE National President.
  • For cherry picking evidence Kevin Donnelly has no equal. I don't have a link to his latest and you can't read it anyway without paying. If I must read The Oz it will be at an airport where they give them away. But do read Margaret Clark's response. My recent foray into My School data shows almost no student achievement gain for over $3bn public investment in mainly high ICSEA private schools. Watch this space
  • Trevor Cobbold's latest 'Private schools are no better' is a good read. Bernie Shepherd and I will have more to say on this later this year.





JULY 2014

JUNE 2014

The Victorian state govenment does not seem to want be in the bussiness of running an education system in Geoff Maslem's piece in the Age June 1

MAY 2014

APRIL 2014

MARCH 2014






Is it the glasses, is it the mouth - or is it just the ideology?  
Christopher Pyne (right) is increasingly looking like Michael Gove, 
Britain's unloved Tory Education Secretary.        Scary!