Friday, 31 January 2020

No library? What the actual fuck!

It has 17 storeys, science labs with panoramic views and abseiling window cleaners. But Sydney's new, $225 million high-rise high school has no library.

Rather than dedicating a room to the school's books and research resources in the form of a traditional library, the new Arthur Phillip High School in Parramatta, which opened this week, will have so-called iHubs for each year level on different floors.

Monday, 27 January 2020

They'll never lower fees. Why should they?

Just weeks after he became prime minister in August 2018, Scott Morrison announced an additional $4.6 billion in federal funding for non-government schools. “Our government believes that parents should have choice in education,” he explained. “The policies that we pursue as a government are about ensuring that choice for parents.” Just in case anyone missed the message, the extra cash was branded as the Choice and Affordability Fund.

As marketing, Morrison’s line may have worked; as public policy it simply doubled down on what was already an abject failure. Over the past twenty years, the Commonwealth has massively ramped up funding for non-government schools. And still, every summer, as reliably as Christmas and the Boxing Day Test, reports of steep increases in private school fees surface in the nation’s newspapers, along with stories of parents struggling to cope and principals struggling to explain. Now figures from the My School website, encompassing every school in Australia and incorporating all sources of revenue, confirms what the anecdotal evidence has long suggested.

The data for the seven years from 2011 to 2017, collected and published by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, reveals the sheer scale of the expansion of government funding to non-government schools. For context, between 2011 and 2017, inflation averaged 1.9 per cent annually, compounding to 12 per cent. Over the same period, recurrent government funding to non-government schools increased by around three times as much, with an average per-student increase of 37 per cent at Independent schools and 35 per cent at Catholic schools. Funding to state schools grew by just 18 per cent per student.

Despite the huge boost in public funding, private schools didn’t reduce their fees. In fact, the price of entry continued to rise rapidly. Between 2011 and 2017, the average tuition fee at non-government schools grew from $3600 to $4700. By 2017, fees averaged $2290 at primary schools, $5700 at secondary level and $8560 at combined K–12 schools. Private school principals and lobbyists often point to rising costs, but this increase equates to an average annual hike in tuition fees of 4.5 per cent, more than twice the rate of inflation.

What this makes clear is that more public spending on private schools has not put downward pressure on fees; it has merely compounded the resource advantage enjoyed by those who can afford a private school education. Net recurrent income per student increased by 29 per cent to just under $20,000 at Independent schools and by 33 per cent to more than $16,000 at Catholic schools.

When the Howard government presided over a substantial increase in federal funding to non-government schools at the start of this century, John Howard went on Melbourne radio to predict that fees would soon fall as a result. The headmasters of  Scotch College and Wesley College confirmed that fee cuts were imminent, and the executive director of the Independent Schools Council disclosed that many schools were “poised to move very quickly” to reduce costs to parents. Howard’s lieutenant, education minister David Kemp, claimed that “the new arrangements will particularly extend choice to low-income families.” “Choice in schooling is now a reality for working-class Australian families,” Minister Kemp told parliament.

Two decades later, the My School data reveals a very different story. Far from making school choice a reality for low-income families, the policies pursued by Dr Kemp and his successors have had the opposite effect. In 2018, 36 per cent of students at public schools came from the most disadvantaged quartile of Australian society. Only 17 per cent of students at Catholic schools came from the same group. The proportion of very disadvantaged kids at Independent schools was even less, at just 14 per cent.

In August, Haileybury College in Melbourne was identified by the ABC report as one of the four richest schools in Australia, which together managed to spend more on new facilities than Australia’s poorest 1800 schools combined. Haileybury clocked up over $100 million in capital expenditure between 2013 and 2017. At the same time, it enjoyed nearly 40 per cent growth in recurrent Commonwealth funding, an increase from $4300 to $6000 per student per year. Haileybury didn’t use the additional public funding to extend choice to low-income families: it increased its fees from $18,700 in 2011 to $22,700 in 2017. Unsurprisingly, the already small proportion of kids from disadvantaged families at Haileybury shrank even further: the proportion of children from the bottom half of the Australian population, according to income and educational attainment, collapsed from 16 per cent to 5 per cent in just seven years.

Haileybury might not be a typical non-government school, but it is representative of the national trend. The same pattern of rapid fee rises, declining enrolments from low-income families and substantial growth in taxpayer funding replicates itself throughout towns and suburbs across the country. Exactly the same dynamic can be found at St Bede’s College in the Melbourne bayside suburb of Mentone; or at St Gregory’s College in Campbelltown; or at Ignatius Park College in the Toowoomba suburb of Cranbrook: in all of these schools, fees increased despite steady increases in government funding, and the proportion of students from Australia’s most disadvantaged families decreased by half or more.

It may once have been plausible to claim that more public funding would improve choice and affordability. Today, such assertions amount to a refusal to face reality; or, worse, an attempt to obscure it. Federal governments have been conducting this experiment for two decades and the results speak for themselves. Twenty years since John Howard declared that private school fees would fall, we are still waiting.

Government funding has increased so much that non-government schools now enjoy similar public funding to state schools. By 2017, Catholic schools received, on average, annual government funding of $13,000 per student, while Independent schools received around $11,000 per student. That’s 81 per cent and 69 per cent respectively of the average per-student funding that goes to state schools. The difference narrows even further when we account for the much larger share of expensive-to-educate students at state schools (such as kids in rural and remote locations, and children with disabilities or from other disadvantaged groups). Comparing like with like, non-government schools receive around 90 to 95 per cent of the public funding that government schools do — and yet fees continue to rise rapidly.

Why don’t private schools cut their fees in response to this ever-growing taxpayer contribution? The most important reason is very simple. They don’t have to. Education is not like many other products in the marketplace: price is seen as a signal of quality, exclusivity is often a selling point, and the uncertainty and anxiety surrounding our children’s wellbeing leads parents to grin and bear high fees and even wear them as a badge of honour. And cutting fees generally could let in a greater number of disadvantaged students, who are typically more expensive to educate. So there’s rarely a business case for cutting fees. Fee reductions and improved affordability won’t happen until governments require it — by imposing caps on fees, demanding a minimum number of scholarships or creating an obligation to enrol local students, for instance.

If we really want to improve choice, it’s not enough to just keep handing over more taxpayer dollars. Non-government schools have to assume public obligations that are commensurate with the public funding they receive. In Australia, the NSW Secondary Principals’ Council has proposed a public charter that would establish a common regulatory environment for all schools in receipt of public funding. There are plenty of models to draw on: church schools are part of public systems in Canada, Britain, the Netherlands and other European countries. In New Zealand, religious schools were integrated into the state system over four decades ago.

We could draw on these examples to expand genuine school choice, while balancing it with other imperatives like equity, quality, efficiency and social cohesion. It’s possible to create free, inclusive schools that also reflect a variety of different worldviews. But first we need a government that really believes in choice in education — for all and not just for some. •

Well worth it?????

Parents at some Sydney private schools will pay more than $40,000 for their child's year 12 education this year, with fees rising almost $10,000 in seven years despite increased federal government funding for independent schools.

Additional technology levies at SCEGGS Darlinghurst and The King's School have pushed final-year fees over $40,000 for the first time.

SCEGGS is charging a record $39,700 for year 12 tuition but a compulsory $780 technology fee raises the total cost to $40,480, which is $9979 more than fees in 2013.

The King's School in Parramatta will charge $40,714 for year 12 after additional technology and meal fees are included, an increase of $11,809 on raw fees seven years ago.

The Scots College ($39,180) and Cranbrook ($38,862) in Bellevue Hill absorb additional levies in their fees.

Federal government funding per student for King's is set to rise by 50 per cent of its 2017 levels by 2027 under the 'Gonski 2.0' scheme, a total of $19.3 million. Boys' private schools Newington College ($35,271) and Knox Grammar School ($34,770) are also receiving additional federal government funding under the scheme.

"This is a very small and specific group [of schools], but certainly the increasing government subsidisation has resulted in an extraordinary increase in the standard of their facilities and plans," Ms Proctor said. "You have to question whether it’s necessary for these schools to look like five-star hotels."

Many of Sydney's most expensive private schools are now charging $10,000 more for year 12 tuition than they did seven years ago. A sample of 14 high-fee schools shows an average fee increase of 31 per cent since 2013.

Helen Proctor, an education professor at the University of Sydney, said it was "paradoxical" that school fees had risen alongside government subsidies. "One of the arguments for subsidising private schools is to keep them affordable, and yet at this very top level the fees keep going up," she said.

HOORAY 190000 views!!!

Sunday, 26 January 2020


This $6 Million to Jewish Schools in Wentworth was announced the same day that $400 mil was cut from the Education Budget for Drought relief last year.
LNP Dave Sharma boasted about it in a tweet.

Thursday, 16 January 2020

That doesn’t sound very Christian to me!

Christian school in the US has reportedly kicked out a pupil after she celebrated her birthday with a rainbowcake while wearing a rainbow jumper.  

Whitefield Academy in Louisville, Kentucky expelled the girl in an email over a picture “which demonstrates a posture of morality and cultural acceptance” counter to their beliefs, her mother told local media.

Private school big spend continues

The arms race in opulence and ostentation between elite private schools is out of control as revealed by a new ABC investigation. Australia’s four richest schools spent more on new facilities than the poorest 1,800 schools combined between 2013 and 2017. Elite private schools spend millions and millions in competing over lavish facilities. This competition is fuelled by big increases in government funding.

The luxurious facilities of elite private schools are in a league of their own – ultra modern science centres, libraries, auditoriums, theatres with orchestra pits, multiple sporting ovals, indoor Olympic size swimming and diving pools, gymnasiums, tennis courts, wellness centres, equestrian centres, rowing tanks and boat sheds and underground car parks.

What public school can afford a $29m new library designed to resemble a Scottish baronial castle with castellations, a tower, a turret and grand bay windows as planned for Scots College in Sydney or the $47m performing arts centre just opened by Knox Grammar? What public school can afford the two country lodges, a seafront school camp and other extensive luxurious facilities of Scotch College in Melbourne or to establish a campus in China to provide a special program for its Year 9 students as does Caulfield Grammar?

The My School website shows that Scots College outlaid $45.7m in capital expenditure in the last three years, Knox Grammar outlaid $64.6m, Scotch College $60.4m and Caulfield Grammar $87.7m.

No public school can compete with such spending sprees. There is a great divide in facilities between elite schools (and even second- and third-tier private schools) and public schools. At best, capital expenditure on public schools is confined to a base standard of facilities. For many it is not even that and they struggle with dilapidated buildings and playgrounds built 50 or more years ago. Many public schools have to cope with stifling classroom heat in summer without air conditioning, worn-out carpets, run-down toilets, leaking roofs, damaged paintwork and rusting metalwork.

The lavish facilities of elite private schools are not about school outcomes. They serve as status markers in marketing strategies to attract enrolments from rich families. It is a fierce competition in which no elite school can afford to fall behind. In this, they are heavily supported by government funding.

The most recent funding figures available show that government funding increases have massively favoured private schoolssince 2009. While private schools are formally prohibited from using government recurrent funding for capital purposes, it fuels the rivalry because money is fungible. The big increases allow private schools to reduce the proportion of income from fees and donations devoted to staffing and other recurrent costs and direct more of it to the arms race.

Many openly admit to this. The Herald-Sun reported in 2018 that one in five Victorian independent private schools admit to using government funding to free up private income for capital works. The chief executive of Independent Schools Victoria said this “is entirely unremarkable”.

Government overfunding frees up millions in fees and donations from wealthy families to install more and more opulent facilities. Many elite private schools around Australia have been massively over-funded by governments for 20 years or more. For example, data released under FOI show that several Sydney private schools were over-funded by millions in 2018, including Loreto Kirribilli ($5.8m), Monte Sant’ Angelo Mercy ($5.6m), St. Augustine’s ($4.7m), Barker College ($2.9m) and Sydney Grammar ($1.3m). Many in other states are similarly over-funded.

A key problem is that there is no standard to ensure all children are educated in appropriate facilities. A national standard for recurrent resourcing of schools called the Schooling Resource Standard was introduced following the Gonski report in 2011. The report also recommended the development of a national standard for school infrastructure for both public and private schools, but it was rejected by the Gillard government.

Private schools get recurrent and capital funding from the commonwealth, but public schools only get recurrent funding. The Gonski report recommended that the capital grants program for private schools be extended to public schools. It said the commonwealth should provide equivalent capital funding for public schools as for private schools with adjustment for the larger enrolment share of public schools. It said that public schools need additional funding to bring their infrastructure up to a quality that enables them to effectively compete with private schools. This was also rejected by the Gillard government.

The Coalition government continues to increase capital funding of private schools. Department of Education figures supplied to Senate Estimates in 2017 show they will get $1.9bn in capital funding from 2018 to 2027. There is no equivalent capital funding for public schools.

Government funding for elite private schools is a waste of taxpayer funds. Their fees and donations alone far exceed the average income of public schools. Government funding just adds to their massive resource advantage and indirectly funds their gold-plated facilities. It denies much-needed resources for disadvantaged public schools facing severe shortages in teaching staff, educational materials and modern classroom buildings and equipment.

• Trevor Cobbold is the national convenor of Save Our Schools

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Not in Arizona buddy!

Republican Arizona State Senator Sylvia Allen has proposed legislation to remove the word “homosexuality” from all public school teaching materials and to prevent any student below the age of 12 from receiving sex education. The legislation is scheduled for hearing by the Senate’s Education Committee on Jan. 14, 2019

Progressive lobbyist Geoff Esposito says that Allen’s legislation is merely a conservative response to the state’s April 2019 repeal of its infamous “no promo homo” law which prohibited instruction in HIV/AIDS curriculum that “promotes a homosexual lifestyle” or “suggests that some methods of sex are safe methods of homosexual sex.”

Sunday, 12 January 2020

Let's hope she gets sent to one of her private jails

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has been threatened with the possibility of jail after a judge deemed she was violating a court order for continuing to collect student debts on a now-defunct school.

That ruling, handed down in June of 2018, was made by U.S. Magistrate Judge Sallie Kim and prevented DeVos and her Department of Education for going after former students at the bankrupt Corinthian Colleges Inc.

However, Kim said she was "astounded" to discover that DeVos was violating the court order at a hearing in San Francisco on Monday after a filing by the Education Department earlier disclosed that more than 16,000 former students at Corinthian College "were incorrectly informed at one time or another ... that they had payments due on their federal student loans."

Saturday, 11 January 2020


"When the Ohio Department of Education released the list of EdChoice districts for 2021, it was a victorious moment for education privatizers in the state legislature. They had engineered into law so many changes in the criteria used to dub a school district as “EdChoice,” the status needed to open the public purse for private school tuition, that next fall more than 400 of Ohio’s 612 school districts will have to pay for the education of students who do not attend their schools."

Sunday, 5 January 2020


Two weeks after Scott Morrison became Prime Minister he gave Catholic Education and extra $4.2 billion on top of their usual annual billions, that 4.2 billion of taxpayers money would have purchased many fire trucks, heavy duty water bomber planes.
Happy new year Blog fans.