May 2017 – Australian Public School Information

Monthly Archives: May 2017

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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Education Is A Long Term Investment And Extremely Important To Future Of Australia

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I read this article Fixing disadvantaged students key to fairer, better economy by Ross Gittins a few days ago and could not agree more on this issue with him.

The first step in ensuring all our children get a decent education is better early childhood learning – a vital issue I’ll leave for its own column.

The next step is ensuring the money governments spend on schools is biased in favour of those students needing more help, not those schools that have managed to screw better deals out of the politicians over the years.

The advent of many modern technologies has destroyed old jobs and created news just as rapidly. We are entering a new phase of automation for many mundane tasks. You just have to look at things like washer machine, robot vacuum cleaner, manufacturing robots etc. Not just manual and manufacturing landscape are quickly changing even the relative new industries such as computer software etc are also changing, testing, deployments and many other aspects of it are getting automated as well. What happens is we need less manual software tester, more automated testers who can write code and maintain the automated tests. This is happening every in the Australia and the whole world.

Education is a key factor to facilitate this change, just to be able to read is maybe enough 50 years ago to gain useful employment, it is no longer the case for much more technically oriented jobs. We need to make everyone understand that education is important and also make it relevant to modern society. One interesting example of the success of East and South Asia immigration groups, one of the key is the value they put on the education of their children. Not everyone who is good education will be successful, but proportionally more of them will be so compared to the ones who are not.

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Another School Funding Blog Entry Again!

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By now your guys must be really excited to see another blog entry again about school funding. Unfortunately, things like these actually can have a major impact on Australian Education down the years. We are getting information in a drip feed fashion. Reading the SMH article this morning Revealed: the high-fee private schools to win big under the Gonski 2.0 changes, it certainly did reveal some more information.

Federal funding for some of Sydney and Melbourne’s most prestigious private schools – which charge fees up to $34,000 a year – will soar over the next decade under the Turnbull government’s “Gonski 2.0” changes, while others will have their funding slashed.

The government has committed to funding all non-government schools at 80 per cent of their needs-based funding entitlement.

I think on this point I agree with a lot of people, we need to have a better understanding how the needs-based funding entitlement is calculated and designed. One of the argument by private schools is that if we do not fund them then public schools will have to handle more enrolments. That being said most people who go to the high-end private schools would be very unlikely end up back in the public school system. Certainly, for the private schools charging fees in the range around 30k, there is little argument to further boost the public funding. Public funding for schools needs to be taken into consideration how much fee and revenue the school in question already generating.

Following are example taken from the above mentioned SMH article

High-fee private school winners in Melbourne under Gonski 2.0

Caulfield Grammar School

  • SES Score: 117
  • Senior school fees: $29,355
  • Per student funding 2017: $4658
  • Per student funding 2027: $6864
  • Total 10-year increase: $34.8 million

Wesley College, Melbourne

  • SES Score: 120
  • Senior school fees: $29,720
  • Per student funding 2017: $3842
  • Per student funding 2027: $5282
  • Total 10-year increase: $22.1 million

Presbyterian Ladies’ College, Burwood

  • SES Score: 115
  • Senior school fees: $29,924
  • Per student funding 2017: $4872
  • Per student funding 2027: $7390
  • Total 10-year increase: $17.9 million

Methodist Ladies College, Kew

  • SES Score: 123
  • Senior school fees: $29,700
  • Per student funding 2017: $3148
  • Per student funding 2027: $4435
  • Total 10-year increase: $13.1 million

Scotch College, Hawthorn

  • SES Score: 123
  • Senior school fees: $30,528
  • Per student funding 2017: $2904
  • Per student funding 2027: $4309
  • Total 10-year increase: $13.6 million

High-fee private school winners in Sydney under Gonski 2.0

The King’s School, Parramatta

  • Current share of Schooling Resource Standard: 77%
  • Senior school fees: $34,323
  • Per student funding 2017: $4527
  • Per student funding 2027: $7278
  • Total 10-year increase: $19.3 million

Santa Sabina College, Strathfield

  • Current share of Schooling Resource Standard: 69%
  • Senior school fees: $21,975
  • Per student funding 2017: $5048
  • Per student funding 2027: $8148
  • Total 10-year increase: $19.1 million

Newington College, Stanmore

  • Current share of Schooling Resource Standard: 75%
  • Senior school fees: $31,662
  • Per student funding 2017: $4178
  • Per student funding 2027: $5948
  • Total 10-year increase: $18.9 million

Knox Grammar School, Wahroonga

  • Current share of Schooling Resource Standard: 78%
  • Senior school fees: $30,600
  • Per student funding 2017: $2300
  • Per student funding 2027: $3228
  • Total 10-year increase: $13.1 million

Sydney Church of England Grammar School, North Sydney

  • Current share of Schooling Resource Standard: 76%
  • Senior school fees: $29,940
  • Per student funding 2017: $2029
  • Per student funding 2027: $3423
  • Total 10-year increase: $11.5 million

One principle from another private school said that they are certainly got used for the fund for swimming pools. How if you already collecting average close to 20k per student in yearly fee and also collecting over 4k per year in public funding per student deserve more than double the increase within next ten years for public funds. I was mostly supportive of reform of school funding previously but seeing more details coming out parts of it is becoming more unfavourable. Progressively over the years in Australia is Public Schools are saddled with students from lower social economic background and corresponding responsibilities. I think we deserve a better look at how the public funding model for private and private schools. The more informaiton being made available for public better the chance we will have a fair debate about this.

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Average Primary School Class Size At Each Year In NSW

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I spend considerable time on NSW Department Education’s website recently and found a lot of goodies. Yeah, I reading stuff like these for fun. Today’s topic is average primary school class size for NSW.

GradeKindergartenYear 1Year 2Year 3Year 4Year 5Year 6Kindergarten - Year 6
199724.125.526.226.626.826.826.826.9
200223.52525.626.326.526.726.826.5
200322.924.525.326.226.526.826.826.3
200422.124.625.426.426.626.826.826.2
200519.723.625.126.126.426.626.725.3
200619.321.324.125.926.426.626.624.6
200719.221.122.625.726.226.526.524.3
200819.221.222.525.726.126.526.524.2
200919.321.322.625.826.226.526.524.3
201019.221.222.725.626.226.426.424.2
201119.221.222.625.726.126.426.324
201219.321.222.725.525.926.226.224
201319.421.322.725.625.926.326.124
201419.321.422.725.62626.226.224
201519.221.322.725.926.226.526.424.1
201619.121.322.625.926.226.326.324.1

Data is taken directly from the site NSW Department of Education’s Site.

Note the decrease in class size is from Kindergarten to Year 2 level where from Year 3 to Year 6 it is about the same for last 20 years. This number matches with my experience at the local public schools.

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Demountable Classrooms in NSW Schools

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I read an article on SMH to do with the topic of demountable classrooms in NSW schools. So I did some diggings and here is what I found out some interesting stats from NSW Department of Education’s own site.

As at July 2016, the Department of Education has a stock of 6,171 demountable buildings (classrooms and specialist spaces). Of these 5,192 are currently located in schools and the remainder is being repaired or is in storage waiting refurbishment. The Department has just over 44,767 teaching spaces in schools. Approximately 9.5% of these are in demountable buildings.

In fact, if you look at stats on the number of the demountable classrooms in NSW, this number fluctuate up and down a little, but overall they stayed about the same. I dug up the stats going back to 2011 and look like the percentage of demountable classrooms stayed about 10 to 12 percent of the total number. From memory in mid-2016 NSW was planning to build 1100 classrooms in the next four years. So even if there is zero increase in enrolment number this would only replace roughly 20 percent of deployed demountable classroom that are in NSW schools today. When you taking into consideration of expected increase in enrolment of both primary and secondary students, we will probably see the number of demountable classrooms increase not decrease over the next few years.

So we will continue seeing shrinking playgrounds and open spaces for the near future in NSW.

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School Funding Stoush between NSW and Federal Government

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Following the recently proposed changes to the Federal government education funding model. the secretary of the NSW Department of Education Mark Scott has contacted all NSW school principles and warned them about the new Federal Government’s funding calculation. NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes has also questioned the accuracy of the new school funding model. The Federal Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham has come out and contradicted his NSW counter part’s opinions.

Regardless which side is correct, there are some good points raised such as the need to make public the data and method used to arrived at new education funding model etc.  That being said, overall speaking I personally think the new change is a big step towards the good direction relating to the funding issue. It is interesting that Labor lacked the courage to properly change the extremely broken private public education funding model. On the other hand, there is little risk of this change by the Turnbull’s Liberal Coalition government of losing votes on this issue. Regardless of potential gain or risk, it is refreshing to see some concrete good moves on the issue of education funding.

However being that the recent Australian domestic politics has been most short-sighted and good as this maybe, it may never get anywhere at all. We will just have to see how this turns out.

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