May 2017 – Australian Public School Information

Monthly Archives: May 2017

2006 to 2015 NSW Student To Teacher Ratio

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Looking at NSW Department of Education Website, here is the information for 2006 to 2015 NSW student to teacher ratio. I am a little surprised that secondary schools have lower ratio compared to the primary schools. Possibly due to more subjects that Secondary Schools had to teach and I will try to look into this more and see if I can also find out what the ratio is like for the other states in Australia.

YearOverall student to teacher ratioPrimary student to teacher ratioSecondary student to teacher ratio
20031517.312.6
200414.81712.5
200514.616.712.4
200614.416.212.4
200714.416.212.5
200814.315.912.4
200914.215.912.4
201014.215.712.5
201114.115.512.5
201214.115.512.4
20131415.512.3
201414.215.612.4
201514.315.812.5

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Importance Of The Feedback In the Classrooms

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I just attended a parent teacher meeting with my son’s teacher this afternoon and had some valuable feedback and information on my son’s progress in school. Coincide with this I just read this article this morning Feedback is one of the best tools in the classroom, research shows on SMH. The article going over the value of feedback in a school environment.

Good work is not rewarded with stickers or simplistic praise at Woonona Public School, a primary school identified as one of the top performers in the state for lifting the results of its students.

Instead, the secret to the success of the school is that teachers and students work every day to give each other feedback. But it isn’t just about delivering a “good job” when work is done well or highlighting mistakes.

The more immediate the feedback, the more effective it is – so we are evaluating the impact minute by minute, every day. Teachers give students feedback, students give teachers feedback and students give each other feedback.

Evidence shows, when implemented effectively, feedback can add an impressive eight months to a student’s learning progress and that’s why we are investing in supporting teachers to make the most of it.

I would be very interesting to see how the result of a lot of these education experiments pan out in the long-term withstanding the change of school principal and staff. Overall I agree with much feedback is very important and involving both parents and students closely is a valuable tool which no doubt will improve on our children’s future education.

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Gender ratio of NSW public school teachers (2011-2015)

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We all know the female gender dominated the teaching profession, but I don’t think few fully understand how startling the ratio is. I found the data on NSW Department of Education website and made a table which you can see at following.

YearPrimary Male (%)Primary Female (%)Secondary Male (%)Secondary Female (%)Total Male (%)Total Female (%)
201119.580.544.255.828.471.6
201219.580.543.556.527.972.1
201318.981.1435727.372.7
201418.781.342.557.526.673.4
201518.381.741.958.12674

In primary school, the ratio is 1 to 4, with secondary school the ratio is 2 to 3. When you combined both primary and secondary school teacher numbers in NSW, for every male teacher, there is three female teacher.

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How Catholic Education Sector Diverts Funding From Low-Income Schools To Wealthy Schools

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I missed this little gem a few days on SMH How Catholic Education Sector Diverts Funding From Low-Income Schools To Wealthy Schools, probably because it is classified as federal politics and got buried with a bunch of other stuff, who cares about politics these :). I am personally is an avid and disappointed follower of Australian politics, however, this is a topic for another day.

This is the first time I read that gave some insight on how funding to Catholic school sector works. They are given in a lump sum format and up to the Catholic school sector to distribute the money, I agree with the government on this and think it is a flawed way of going about this. Some example of funding for various of Catholic schools is given as below.

St Mary of the Cross MacKillop Catholic Parish Primary School, a low-SES school in Melbourne’s Epping North, received $1.86 million in 2015 – $1.49 million less than its federal government allocation.

The most socially disadvantaged Catholic school in Victoria, St Thomas Aquinas in Norlane, received 15 per cent less than its federal government funding allocation in 2015.

Meanwhile, St Columba’s School in the affluent Melbourne suburb of Elwood received 15 per cent more funding than its federal government allocation.

St Jerome’s Catholic Primary School, a low socio-economic school in the western Sydney suburb of Punchbowl, received $2.71 million in funding in 2015 – $1.3 million less than its federal needs-based entitlement.

By contrast, Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School in Pymble received $412,500 more than its federal funding allocation.

If nothing else the Liberal government’s new school funding policy debate has revealed a lot of interesting and relevant information on this topic.

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Salary Ranges For NSW Public School Teachers By Gender (2015)

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NSW Department of Education’s website has all sorts of interesting and wonderful information. I found this one today about salary range of NSW public school teachers and separate by gender as well at 2015. Permanent government school teachers only. Data includes temporary teachers but excludes casual teachers.

  • 7942 female and 2374 male teachers earn between 50k to 69k per year.
  • 9814 female and 2746 male teachers earn between 70k to 89k per year.
  • 23188 female and 6786 male teachers earn between 90k to 99k per year.
  • 8936 female and 4366 male teachers earn between 100k+ per year.

One other interesting item to note is that teaching is overwhelmingly dominated by the female gender, the ratio is 4 to 1 in every range, even at 100k+ plus range the ratio is still 2 to 1.

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Declining Financial Literacy Of Australian Teenagers And Who Should Take the Responsibility

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There is an article on SMH Australian 15-year-olds declining in financial literacy: PISA report today. The basic gist is that Australian teenagers have low and declining level of financial literacy. One parent suggests math is useless and school should teach should be teaching them about finances and loans.

I do not agree with this view personally, math is the fundamental skill everybody should learn and have. Math skills underpin many basic days to day financial management of ones’ affair. For example, two persons I worked with on daily basis who are smart and articulate. However, given the task of working out how much GST paid on GST inclusive price of 100 dollars had no idea how to do so. If you do not have a basic level of math it is impossible to achieve the level of financial management skill that needed in the modern society. Without some basic math skills, it is very difficult to work out it is better to use the money to pay down your loan first or invest in something else.

In my view, parents are much better equipped to handle the majority of the workload in educating teenagers on the issue of financial literacy. You not able to offer advice and suggest more timely, there is also the opportunities of lead by example which in my view is another important aspect as well. I had a bank account in my primary school years and regularly deposited my pocket money into it. My parents did not force me to do that, they just sort of guided me in that direction and many similar examples like this which greatly benefited me in my adult years.

We as parents cannot expect the school to do everything for our children. We also need to take responsibility and teach our children about this. Most of parents including me have the tendency of over-sheltering our children, but we all need to overcome that and do what is good for our children.

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Why Are Public School Share of Students Going Up First Time Since 1977

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The stats and information are taken out of this Public schools increase share of enrolments, reversing 40 year trend article on SMH. The basic of what is happening is as following

New figures from the Bureau of Statistics show that government schools in 2016 educated 65.4 per cent of all students, up from the historical low of 2014 when it was 65.1 per cent.

Public school enrolments have declined at about 0.4 per cent per year since 1977, when 79 per cent of students went to government schools nationally. The increase appears to be partly at the expense of Catholic schools. In 2016 there was a small decline in the Catholic sector’s share of students (from 20.4 per cent in 2015 down to 20.2 per cent) while the independent sector remained steady at 14.4 per cent.

In terms of raw numbers rather than enrolment share, there were 3,798,226 school students across Australia in 2016, an increase of 47,253 on 2015. Of those, the vast majority (38,672) went to government schools, 1,511 to Catholic schools and 7,070 to independent schools.

In NSW the enrolment share of government school students was at its lowest in 2015, at 65.3 per cent, increasing slightly to 65.4 per cent in 2016.

The most interesting point to speculate is why this is happening. I personally think the cost is the driving factor here. After the prolonged period of stagnating wage and real income growth for most of the last decade since GFC in 2008, this is starting to bite. We may start to see more of the flow towards public school driving by the perception of better value for money, particularly true for the “better” schools. Some parents may also think that money spends on purchasing properties fall within the school catchment of good public schools is a better investment for money compare to sending the kids to the private schools.

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Are We Going Extreme In The Other Direction With School Canteen

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NSW government has come out with a new Healthy School Canteens which sounds good on glance but can add a lot workload for the canteen organiser. Public school canteens around my area are all run by volunteer parents. All information are taken directly from NSW’s Healthy School Canteens website.

It is a quite complex and comprehensive one just reading it will take a while let alone properly understand and implement them. Following is the main steps and some of the example information.

  • Step 1: Determining Everyday or Occasional foods
  • Step 2: Making it healthier
  • Step 3: Balancing your menu
  • Step 4: Marketing a healthy canteenRecipes

Everyday food

  • Fill the canteen menu with at least three-quarter of Everyday food and drinks.
  • Everyday food and meals are those made from the 5 food groups, plus water (see below).
  • Everyday food and drinks can be fresh or packaged.
  • Portion sizes apply to flavoured milk, juices and hot meals.
  • Every section of the menu should include at least 1 Everyday food or drink.
  • Everyday food should be promoted.

Five food groups

  • Vegetables, and legumes/beans.
  • Fruit, including fresh, dried, frozen, canned in juice, 99% fruit juice.
  • Grain foods, including bread, breakfast cereals, rice, pasta, oats – wholegrain and high-fibre varieties are recommended.
  • Lean meats and alternatives, including poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, legumes and beans.
  • Milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives – choose mostly reduced-fat varieties. Choose milk alternatives such as soy, rice or almond milk with calcium added.

Occasional food

  • Limit Occasional food to no more than one-quarter of your canteen menu.
  • These are mostly higher in saturated fat, sugars and/or salt, and may have little nutritional value. They are not needed as part of a healthy diet and should be eaten only sometimes and in small amounts.
  • These should not be the main choices on your menu.
  • Only the healthiest versions of these packaged foods with a Health Star Rating of 3.5 and above should be sold in school canteens
  • Check that your Occasional food or drink does not exceed the recommended portion size

These foods should not be promoted.

Examples include

  • Oven-baked hot chips and pastries: Chips, wedges, hash browns, pies, sausage rolls, samosas, spring rolls (do not deep-fry).
  • Processed meats: Hot dogs, bacon, salami; crumbed/coated meats, e.g. nuggets, schnitzel.
  • Sweet foods: Cakes, e.g. muffins, banana bread, muesli bars, sweet biscuits, croissants, danish, desserts, ice cream.
  • Diet drinks: Soft drinks, iced teas, flavoured waters or juices sweetened with intense natural or artificial sweeteners, e.g. stevia or aspartame.

While I think providing healthy food is a good thing, we have to be careful that we are not going to the other direction. The main task of keeping children healthy and active should be and rightly rest with the parents. We need to be careful in not overburden the volunteering parents with unnecessary guideline and requirements etc.

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New HSC Mathematics Syllabuses And Scaling For NSW Changed in 2018

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This is the follow-up blog entry for the NSW math scaling issue that I went over yesterday. The basic issue is that student is studying General Mathematics course in NSW it resulted in a higher score than if they had studied the more difficult intermediate HSC Mathematics course. I had already know reforms that aimed to address this issue are being prepared and rolling out in near future. I wanted to summarise them to give a more clear picture of what is happening particularly with the aspect that to do with Math.

The quoted information are all from following two articles Overhaul of NSW HSC courses starting 2018 and The HSC maths equation that doesn’t add up.

There’ll be more maths in science subjects, a greater focus on writing in English and a new emphasis on Australia’s western heritage in history under a revamped NSW Higher School Certificate. HSC students in 2018 and beyond will study new English, maths, science and history courses in the first shake-up of the core-subject syllabuses in almost two decades.

For the first time, statistics will be part of the calculus courses for mathematics extension students, reflecting the growing importance of data in work life.

A perceived anomaly in which some maths students have been selecting easier courses in order to gain a higher ATAR will also be scrapped.
A new marking system will ensure students taking higher-level maths will be appropriately scaled.

For science, there will be a greater focus on maths and quantitative analytical content.

A spokesman for the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) said the new maths syllabuses, to be introduced next year for the general maths course and in 2019 for higher-level courses, would address the issue.

“[The new] HSC mathematics syllabuses will feature common content and marking scales that allow direct comparison of students to taking the calculus and non-calculus based courses, and address concerns that ATAR scaling advantages students taking the non-calculus General Mathematics course,” the spokesman said.

This is a good step towards the right direction and after two decades are long over due to an update.

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Why Aren’t Students Studying Higher Level Maths?

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Another random day of browsing NSW Department of Education’s site and I found this piece of a gem on a topic that I am deeply interested in. This one is Why aren’t students studying higher level maths? the full article is 31 pages, so I tried to summerise what got said, if you have the time and intest I most certainly recommend a read.

What is happening with Math enrolment in NSW.

In New South Wales (NSW), overall enrolments in mathematics in the Higher School Certificate (HSC) have increased by seven per cent from 2001 to 2015. However, enrolments in the HSC Mathematics course, an intermediate mathematics course that includes calculus, decreased by 4,453 enrolments over this period (see Figure 1 below). This reflects a drop from 39 per cent of all mathematics enrolments in the HSC in 2001 to 29 per cent in 2015. At the same time, enrolments in the HSC General Mathematics course (does not include calculus; renamed Mathematics General 2 in 2014) have increased by nine per cent since 2001.

The main points of investigation

1. Has there been a scaling advantage for HSC General Mathematics over HSC Mathematics for the
years 2009 to 2013?
2. Of the student and school characteristics available, which student- and school-level characteristics are
related to student choice of HSC General Mathematics rather than HSC Mathematics?
3. Do students studying STEM subjects at university regret choosing HSC General Mathematics?
4. Does the perceived scaling advantage or subject workload have greater influence on choosing HSC
General Mathematics over HSC Mathematics?

Foundings for the issues raised above

  1. Results showed a substantial and statistically significant scaling advantage for HSC General Mathematics over HSC Mathematics from 2009 through 201316.
  2. Once student- and school-level characteristics were adjusted for, results showed that certain types of schools were more likely than others to have students who chose HSC General Mathematics and potentially benefitted from the scaling advantage. Students from Technical and Further Education (TAFE)
    colleges had the highest odds of taking HSC General Mathematics, while students from government boys’ schools had the lowest odds.
  3. Despite the scaling advantage associated with choosing HSC General Mathematics, a significant proportion of students who went on to study tertiary STEM subjects at university and had studied HSC General Mathematics reported wanting, in hindsight, to have selected more challenging mathematics.
  4. It appears that HSC General Mathematics students were more influenced by perceptions of a lower workload rather than a scaling advantage.

 

Conclusion

In 2013 the average scaling advantage for taking HSC General Mathematics was 5.3 scaled marks, which is approximately equal to 1.3 ATAR points. Therefore, this scaling advantage is likely to be partially driving the declining enrolments in HSC Mathematics.

These findings suggest that addressing the scaling advantage may help to ensure that students choose mathematics subjects that more adequately prepare
them for their future studies and careers. Despite the presence of a scaling advantage for HSC General Mathematics, analysis of the Expectations
and Destinations Survey found that many students seemed to be more driven by the perceived workload advantages rather than a belief in a scaling advantage.

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