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Category Archives: General Education

Why Computer And Technology Related Courses Are Becoming So Unpopular With Australian School Students?

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I am sure that I cannot be the only one that notices what once was once highly touted various technology related courses such as software programming suffer progressively less enrolment and interest in both secondary and tertiary level. Media kept written articles on how important the technology such as coding skills are to our future and students should be encouraged to that direction.

Alright if software programming is so important and much emphasis on this by the government and media, why was enrolment was in significant decline over the recent years. All the media articles just go on about the importance of the skills themselves without going into the root of the issue.

To be brutally honest, job prospect and potentially income is of likely more importance to most students and their parents relating to other reasons. Ideally, you want to combine interest with job prospects. If being a Doctor or pushing paper earns more money and offers better job security, then by far majority of the students will gravitate towards that direction when choosing what to study.

Now let’s start looking at software programming career future, it earns better than average salary and got decent job prospect. However compare to many other careers you needs to constantly update your skills, relative insecure job security due to outsourcing and other reasons, etc. Why would students want to compete with the host of 457 visa holders and bad job security when there are easier and better options like finance there to be had.

School Funding in Australia

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With school funding in Australia, it is not just about giving more money to the schools. With the current budget constraint, efficient use and distribution of the money to schools is a much better alternative. States need to work closer with their Federal counterpart to come up with better and more efficient options on how the money is used. I know it is politically sensitive to reduce the funding to schools that do not really need them compare to the others, primarily these are the top end of private schools. Indoor pools are a nice thing to have but hardly required items, this money just better off to be spent elsewhere. You have to lay the original blame on John Howard with creating this problem and Gillard government for lack of courage to properly implement the Gonski plan.

Another phenomenon is that many schools function largely with the free help from parents particularly mothers. All the canteen of public schools in my local area is run by volunteering parents. My children’s public school P&C pays the cleaners for the school drawing its own fund. It is planning to install Air Conditioners for all classrooms with its own fund as well. Another local public school even paid for an extra teacher with its own money as well.

You have to question why your local schools rely so heavily on the contributing of money and free labour from parents.

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How Big Of A Factor Is Local School When Purchasing Properties?

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I remember reading an article years ago that school is one of the top things that people looking at when purchasing a property. Being a parent myself, I fully understand all parents concern on this. I personally wasn’t as picky as some people I know, rank 100 with rank 2 in the state does not really matter that much to me. However, that is not to say all parents are similar to me. I was also lucky that the schools in the area I was interested in all were of good enough quality for me so that sure made my life easier when house hunting. The school is very important, however, if the parents don’t spend the effort at educating their children, no matter how good the schools it will not help.

Some properties that are on different side of the street due to falling in or out of a particular school zone can end up the price difference in hundred thousands of dollars. What I think what a good school has to offer are accommodating environment with parents that spend effort working with their children and school. I always make the joke to my partner that as long as my kids don’t abuse alcohol, don’t do drugs, practice safe sex and not lead a life of crime, I am all good whatever else they do.

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Should you hold back your child one year before starting on school?

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I just read the article “Holding them back: What age should kids really start school?” on news.com.au. This is a very interesting one and worth a read, particularly for prospective parents with children that are about to start school.  The area where I lived the majority of my life at, most people I know normally send their kids to school as soon as they legally qualified to do so. One of the most important factor I think is to do with cost as well, one less childcare cost to bear is actually a big deal for a lot of families. I recently moved to a more affluent area and from what I can observe most of the parents hold their kids back one year.

I do agree with the article’s conclusion that whether to do so is a personal one and differs from child to child as well. My son is the second youngest in the whole class and there are children that are closet o 18 months older. He is a socially active boy, so fitting in was never an issue for me. We did have to spend significant more effort in learning words and working on reading compare to my daughter in her Kindergarten year. He is doing well now academically but still, lags in sports. If given the choice again when choosing whether sending him to school or not, I most likely will actually hold him back one more year.

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Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage (ICSEA)

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Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage as normally reference as ICSEA is created for following purpose as described by Myschool. This is often thrown around various of sites and news but mostly without a detailed explanation on what it is and what does it mean.

The index of community socio-educational advantage (ICSEA) was created by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) specifically to enable meaningful comparisons of National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) test achievement by students in schools across Australia.

As shown above, the ICSEA for school is made up by only following four factor.

  1. Parents’ Occupation
  2. Parents’ Education
  3. Geographical Location
  4. Proportion of Indigenous Students

The previous version of ICSEA use to use the census data and this is no longer the case. Another important thing to note is that income is not part of equation in calculating the score. Neither is the wealth of the school be taken into account when calculating the score. What this means is that ICSEA may not be such a good score to measure general social economical advantage between schools as some might traditionally think.

It maybe even the case that wealth of the parents have little affect on student’s academic performance, I will have to do more research and to see if there are existing study on this in Australia.

Willoughby Public School Long Over Dued Expansion Plan

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It is apparent to anyone who had visited Willoughby Public School recently which is that the school itself is really crowded. There are demountable everywhere and hardly any grass to be seen. I happen to be a frequent visitor so know this particular school very well. A real nice tree next to the sandpit had to be cut down last year to fit in one extra demountable classroom. Another one had to be fitted on the same playground next to the library taking up valuable open space. Existing school layout look like following

The previous extreme short-sightedness of NSW state government who closed and sold a number of schools in Sydney had come back and bite us in a real nasty fashion. Now with surging enrolment in the state particular many suburbs of Sydney, the new school had to be constructed and existing one expanded. Despite the significant investment recently by the state government, there is still a massive amount of shortfall in the existing school, not to mentioned the expected continue to increase in enrolment in the future.

Willoughby Public School is pretty much a case study of what had and is happening in NSW and Sydney, over last 20 years till now. Massive increase in population and demand in the North Shore area in Sydney had put increasing demand on the local schools. With increasing medium to high-intensity residential development in the local area, there will be increasing pressure on enrolment number for Willoughby Public School. I have already done a previous blog post about Willoughby Public School which you can found as following.

Willoughby Public School

I have read the recent local newspaper and saw the proposed upgrade plan and it is great to see something finally is going to be done about the overcrowding of the school and cater for the future increase in enrolment as well. More information can be found directly on Willoughby Public School’s website.

Demolition Plan

Concept Option 1

Concept Option 2

Concept Option 3

The preferred floor plan is as following.

Preferred Concept Option Floor Ground

Preferred Concept Option Floor One

Preferred Concept Option Floor Two

 

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Is NSW Selective Schools Becoming Bastions Of Inequality

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I read this article ‘Bastions of inequality’: selective schools increasingly cater to the most advantaged students by Christina Ho on SMH about a month ago and have not had time to write my thought about it until now.

First to summarise what the article had been trying to convey which is roughly the following

As public schools designed to cater for gifted and talented students, selective schools should be accessible to high achievers regardless of family background. The MySchool figures raise serious questions about how accessible or meritocratic selective schools really are. They have become more inaccessible in recent years, almost completely so to the most disadvantaged groups.

Selective schools were set up to provide opportunities to the gifted and talented, not just the wealthy, gifted and talented.

While I agree with the who gains entrance to our selective schools, this is not in dispute by either hard facts and personal experience as well. However what need to be said is that enrolment into the selective high school purely based on examination result is arguably the fairest method of doing so. As the Christina had pointed out in the article that selective high schools as a public school are designed to cater for gifted and talented students. How else can we judge and determine who is more gifted and talented?

We can patch the issue by creating quotas to admit students from different social economic backgrounds. This does not solve the fundamental cause of students from high social economic background performs betters than their counterparts from the lower social economic background. I am a big believer of admittance purely based on examination result which despite its flaws still is the fairest and best way to go. What we should be doing to why this is happening in our education system and what we can do to minimise it. It is impossible completely eradicate this phenomenal, but we can most definitely improve on what we have currently.

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Quick update on what is happening with Australian school zone map

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I have recently published a bunch of school zone maps in Australia for all the states that I had been working for a while. There is one last bit, which is Western Australia that still to come the first version should come very soon. I am also working on fill out rest of Australia’s school zone map, as there are a lot of missing parts still. Hopefully a lot of these will become available soon, I said same thing about last few sets such as South Australia School zone maps which I had actually worked on it for close to two years.

Anyhow enough mumbling and I am sure the next few major update will come much sooner than before.

Update on what is happening

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Despite lack of the more visible updates, I have been furiously working on update many of the school zoning maps all over Australia. There a lot of updates will soon come. I also will try to provide a complete public school coverage at both primary and secondary level for NSW, this will likely be my primary focus after the current batch of projects got done. I am hoping as well to have near Australian wide coverage of school zoning map in the near future at least at the primary level.

Anyhow each talking and hope your guys had a good first school week.

Back From Holiday And Quick Status Update

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I just got back from holiday and got back into working on the school catchment maps again. I have completed reworking the Melbourne primary school zone map and it is to my knowledge the most accurate available now. I had to scrap a lot of work that had been done for the South Australian primary school zone map and restarted the work again. I have began the process again and parts of previous work can be reused, so this is not a complete waste, however I probably won’t be able to finish it until late this month.

Anyhow I wish your guys all had a good holiday and restart of the normal work life is not too painful.