Research about education in Australia is valuable as long as it is not commissioned to support a cause.
We respond to many media requests for comment on research but we are often disappointed to find that it has been initiated by opponents of non-government schooling or undertaken to make a case against fair funding for the Independent sector.
NAPLAN, for example, is a source of valuable information but some use it for purposes for which it was never intended. ACARA Chief Executive Robert Randall describes NAPLAN as ‘a national snapshot of how our children are doing in those important skills of literacy and numeracy’.
Its aim is to help identify students’ strengths and areas for improvement but averaging between-school difference is not a measure for sector comparisons. NAPLAN data is sometimes used as a Trojan horse for assessing or questioning governments’ education funding policies.
Unfortunately important government policy initiatives also open the gates to Trojan Horse tactics. We saw this with the (Gonski) Review of School Funding. As a result the new funding model is based on poor evidence that is not robust and was not thought through. It is not sustainable and likely to cause public policy problems in the next five years for governments and schools – government and non-government. There is also a gap between people’s understanding of the model and the reality of its implementation.
Genuinely independent research is valuable but academic discourse can cause confusion not clarity, particularly when summarised in the media. Comparing school achievements and what they might mean for the future of the student do not reflect day-to-day realities faced by parents and their children.
Parents work closely with their children’s teachers assessing not just their success in individual subjects at certain year levels but take into account their overall academic growth and their personal development and wellbeing. This is more important than research conducted by vested interests.
The growing number of enrolments in our Member Schools, supported by positive views expressed by parents is a practical and realistic assessment of the importance of Independent school education.