Australian Schools and Coronavirus 5th of March 2020

I just saw this on the news today that a year 11 student from Epping Boys High School was diagnosed with Coronavirus. As a result of this, the entire school is closed on this Friday as ordered NSW Health minister.

Currently, this is just a one day closure, all students and staff are asked to self isolate for the weekend. Further announcements on the future steps regarding this will be announced over the weekend.

This is the 25th case in NSW and number is going up rapidly so it is safe to say community spread has been going on for a while. A lot of new cases are popping in Northern Sydney around Ryde, Macquarie Park area. Just mentioned Epping Boys High School is around this area as well.

Things are deteriorating pretty fast and there almost certainly will be more cases popping up and in schools as well. So I would expect to see more school closure in the next few weeks, particularly around the Northern Sydney area. With the rate things are going, I would not be surprised to see individual school closure even before the Autumn holiday in April.

If things are deteriorating at the current rate, we almost certainly will be starting to see mass school closure in parts of Sydney and other areas of Australia as well.

So basically let’s all buckle down and this is going to be a real wide ride. I think we need to do what is needed to slow this Coronavirus down to avoid overloading the hospitals. So if school closure will be required then so be it. At this moment widespread school closure is premature, but with the rate things are changing, we may have to make that decision within the next few weeks.

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High Rise Schools in Australia

The newly reopened Arthur Phillip High School which is a high rise school with a 17-floor building. This is first of the many and with the pressure of the ever-expanding population, high rise schools will be a more common sight in the coming years.

Personally I prefer schools that are only 4 to 5 floor at max, this way it can still easily traversed by stairs rather than having to rely fully on elevators. The newly built Arthur Phillip High School having to stagger each year’s recess and break time. I guess this is to avoid crowding with the stairs and elevators. I am sure most of you had some painful experience with waiting for elevators. Crowded stairs also are really dangerous if not managed correctly.

Arthur Phillip High School is will also have an open-plan environment, this one is very interesting and can potentially a detriment. Anyway, it is good to see the NSW State government making steady investment and progress in dealing with the exploding student population.

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2020 NSW Year 7 Selective High School Key Dates

Following is the table for the key dates of 2020 NSW Year 7 Selective High School entrance.


Date
Activity
mid-January 2020Authority to attend letter sent to applicants enrolling at the school in Year 7 in 2020
27 February 2020Test authority letter is sent to candidates for entry in 2021
12 March 2020Selective High School Placement Test for entry in 2021
26 March 2020Requests for consideration of illness/misadventure submitted by applicants
26 April 2020Last day to change selective high school choices for entry in 2021
4 July 2020Placement outcomes sent overnight for entry in 2021
22 July 2020Parents send appeals to primary principals
29 July 2020Principals submit appeals to the Team
early August 2020Reserve list progress is updated on the website

This information is obtained from the NSW Department of Education’s website.

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NSW Selective High Schools Works as Intended

There had been a lot of controversy with the NSW Selective High Schools and with a large number of articles plus opinions attack its existence, also whether it serves the intended purpose.

The main point of the attack is that Selective High Schools students are mainly from the high social-economical background rather than serving the general population as intend.

First, the main criteria published in the Myschool website is called ICSEA which is called Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage, the main items in this index are parent’s education background and geographic location of the school. Whether the family is rich or poor has no direct bearing in this index. I have done a number of previous blog entries on this topic already, so I will not go into this in more detail.

Now, we got all these out of the way, you can view the articles on SMH which is called The Sydney suburbs sending the most students to selective schools.

NSW Department of Education’s own research that only 10 per cent of students in selective schools had parents who did not have post-school education.

There were also few students from the city’s richest suburbs such as Bellevue Hill, Double Bay or Milsons Point, suggesting families in those areas are still opting for private schools.

While selective schools have high rates of socio-educational advantage – which means students’ parents are educated, a key factor in schooling success – the figures show that does not necessarily equate to wealth.

Please note, what shown above is pretty much what anybody who had experience with selective high schools will tell you as well. This shows the students that study and apply themselves will get in rather than determine by how much money their parents have. We should be encouraging health and fair competitions, rather than create artificial access restriction that disadvantages one group or another.

For all the bad raps that standardized tests are getting these days, they are still the fairest and best way, for now, to provide opportunities to people that deserve them. That could be Selective High School tests and HSC or other similar tests.

We do not need to destroy what has up to now an avenue for children of middle-class parents to advance with their aspirations by crashing the existing selective high school systems. The reason why some parents are pushing their kids into selective high schools is that they themselves are a big beneficiary of education and understand what a good education can do for you.

As a society, we need to emphasise the benefit of education and continuingly promote it and never let up. Particularly with more automation entering Australia and the world, we will need more highly skilled people, a good and quality education is the only way to achieve that.

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NSW School Enrolment Surge

It is well known that NSW is experiencing a very significant enrolment surge in the last few years. This is well known in the communities as well with overcrowding in the local schools and many also filled with demountable classrooms.

There is a new article today on Another enrolment record as students head back to school on SMH.

Enrolments in public schools are continuing to grow to record levels. This year, there are expected to be 815,000 students in the sector, an increase of about 5000 on last year and almost 73,000 more than 10 years ago.

While the student census across the three sectors will not be held until schools open, the independent sector also expects further growth in enrolments. Between 2017 and 2018, enrolments grew by about 4500 students.

The public sector in Australia has recently reversed decades of shrinking enrolment percentage and starting to gain a larger share of student enrolment population. Also, most of the increases are happening at the younger end of the school population. Given the level of population growth due to both natural birth and immigration, this phenomenon is pretty much expected.

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New Public School For Sydney’s Crowded Northern Suburbs.

There are a number of new public schools has been planned or being completed all over Sydney. The northern suburbs around the T9 Northern rail line had seen a major increase in the population and resulting in many cases where severally overcrowded local public schools.

The new Smalls Road Public School located in the suburb of Ryde is opening next year and accepting the kindergarten class for 2020. It will be accepting all classes from kindergarten to year six in 2021. With the opening of this new school, all surrounding school’s catchment received a major revamp. For year one to six, the current school catchment will stand as it is and kindergarten enrolment will be using the newly updated catchment.

All together all the following public school’s catchment has updated.

Eastwood Public School
Denistone East Public School
Kent Road Public School
Meadowbank Public School
North Ryde Public School
Ryde East Public School
Ryde Public School
Putney Public School
Truscott Street Public School
West Ryde Public School

The existing 2019 school catchment is as following

2019 Northern Sydney Catchment around Ryde Area
2019 Northern Sydney Catchment around Ryde Area

2020 and 2021 school catchment of the new and affected school catchment as in the following screenshot and the updated map.

Smalls Road and Surround Public School Catchment for 2020
Smalls Road and Surround Public School Catchment for 2020

Updated interactive map as following

The most common name used by the NSW Department of Education is called “catchment” which refer to that students resides in a particular area is guaranteed a position in specific schools. When discussed from the perspective of a particular school is often referred to as one of the following terms.

  • School Zone
  • School intake area
  • School catchment

As usual contact the school in question or Department of Education for the final confirmation and you can also access the full NSW and Sydney Public School Catchment Map by following this link.

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Proposed Changes to NSW HSC and Syllabus In 2019

I had done way too much over time (not paid) for my day job recently and late to the party to this issue. There had been a lot of different articles on this topic, I am just going to use one as a reference which is Sweeping changes to HSC and syllabus proposed by government review from smh.com.au

I will quote a few lines to summarize the article to give you an idea of what has been proposed.

The biggest rethink of the curriculum in 30 years also suggests paring back primary school content to focus on literacy, numeracy and emotional development, more minimum standards, and a restructure of the syllabus around attainment levels rather than year levels.

In early years, literacy, numeracy and social and emotional development should be “prioritised over other areas of the curriculum and resourced to ensure every student is on track in their learning,” the report said.

Students in the middle years of school should study and meet minimum standards in a
“specified range of subjects” that would include knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. They should also study a language other than English in primary school.

The primary and secondary curriculum should be restructured around so-called ‘attainment levels’, which would create a series of benchmarks against which students’ long-term progress could be measured, independent of their age or year.

smh.com.au

Let me use my take, this is simplification and refocus of the current syllabus of both primary and secondary level. I will throw in my opinion based on my own experience of the NSW education system.

First, at the primary level, I think a pretty good job has been done on the literacy side of things. There is a lot of focus from the school put in on the literacy in my kid’s school and similar feedback I get from the other parents in other schools as well. I cannot say the same for the numeracy side of things, there are too many comprehension types of questions and not enough basic skills imparted. Math often turns into a difficult subject for many kids were at the primary level this should not be the case.

Also personally I believe by far the majority of the responsibility for the social and emotional development rests with the parents.

Secondly, at the secondary level, there are definitely too many subjects not enough required basic skills imparted. Up to high school, we should be concentrating on teaching young people the fundamentals like math, computer skills etc.

Take math as an example I meet numerous of people at work that after graduating high school who does not know how to calculate GST portion if something sells for ten dollars. Simple things like that may seem trivial and none important, but can actually make a lot of difference in kind of work people do and how efficient they are done.

Lastly, we need to teach kids how to think and judge things on their own. On subjects such as History, we need to teach the kids why things happen the way they do. Judge and consider things scientifically and objectively.

One thing I noted in the current society of the echoing chamber of the internet, just about everybody just searches and read on the things they like and agrees with which is understandable. However, this merely amplifies one’s existing position rather than understand and learn about another side of the argument. Primary and early secondary schools are rare opportunities that we can shape and influence the kids before they get dump into the deep end of the internet.

This is not just for schools, but mostly for the parents as well, we need to pitch in and do our part if we wish for a better education for our kids.

If you have any further questions please feel free to contact me at the About Us page or leave a comment.

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Balgowlah North Public School In-Person

I visited the Balgowlah North Public School in 2016, I cannot believe how long ago that was and do not ask me why it took me so long to write the school up. Balgowlah North Public School is situated in Sydney’s northern beach area. Balgowlah uses to be one of the old sleepy suburbs in Sydney. Thirty years ago if you walk through it, you will find mostly old red brick and weatherboard houses. It is very typical of what you call a working-class suburb. However, if you visit the suburb in recent years, you will find that a lot of the older houses got demolished and replaced by Macmansions and custom build large houses. These days North Balgowlah has an average house price of over two million dollars, it certainly has come a long way from its roots decades ago.

Balgowlah North Public School is situated on the Manning Street in the suburb of North Balgowlah opposite to the bushland. Despite its seemingly bush setting, the school is less than ten kilometres from the Sydney CBD and less than three kilometres from the world-famous Manly beach.

Academically Balgowlah North Public School usually falls between 100 to 300ish and please see the following table for the ranking.

YearNSW Primary School Ranking
2018330
2017174
2016344
2015199
201495
2013211
2012183
2011161

To find out school’s catchment, you can search for a particular school or address in the search box in the top right-hand corner of the embedded map or zoom into an area of interest on the map.

The most common name used by the NSW Department of Education is called “catchment” which refer to that students resides in a particular area is guaranteed a position in specific schools. When discussed from the perspective of a particular school is often referred to as one of the following terms.

  • School Zone
  • School intake area
  • School catchment

In 2018 there are 607 students consist of 318 boys and 289 girls. This number has been fairly consistent for most of this decade. There are 31 full time equivalent teaching and non-teaching staff in 2018. The percentage of students with language background other than English in 2018 is 12 percent, again this number has been fairly consistent and had not seen the dramatic increase that many other Sydney schools had experienced in the last decade or so.

Balgowlah North Public School has a lot of open green space and unfortunately full of demountable classrooms as well. Following are a brief photo tour of the school.

Balgowlah North Public School
Balgowlah North Public School

Balgowlah North Public School when I visited in 2016 has a lot of demountable classrooms as you can see from the photos below. In fact most of classrooms I saw in the school consisted of demountables.

Balgowlah North Public School Demountable Classrooms
Balgowlah North Public School Demountable Classrooms

More Balgowlah North Public School Demountable Classrooms
More Balgowlah North Public School Demountable Classrooms

Balgowlah North Public School has a lot of open space which is rare for a school this close to the Sydney CBD and is very pleasant. A lot of schools I know are so short of playground and open space and had to even have different recess and lunch time for different grades to reduce the crowding.

More Balgowlah North Public School Open Green Spaces
More Balgowlah North Public School Open Green Spaces

More More Balgowlah North Public School Open Green Spaces
More More Balgowlah North Public School Open Green Spaces

If you have any further questions please feel free to contact me at the About Us page or leave a comment.

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Wentworth Point Public School

This page contains the information and the catchment map for Wentworth Point Public School in Sydney, NSW. You can search for a particular school or address in the search box in the top right-hand corner of the embedded map or zoom into an area of interest on the map.

The most common name used by NSW Department of Education is called “catchment” which refer to that students resides in a particular area is guaranteed a position in specific schools. When discussed from the perspective of a particular school is often referred to as one of the following terms.

  • School Zone
  • School intake area
  • School catchment

As usual contact the school in question or Department of Education for the final confirmation and you can also access the full NSW and Sydney Public School Catchment Map by following this link.

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Interesting Tidbit With Killara Public School

While I was researching for the school introduction piece with the Killara Public School, I noticed something interesting regarding the percentage of students at Killara Public School coming from language backgrounds other than English. If you missed the previous article regarding Killara Public School, you can find them as following.

Alright lets first look at stats first

  • 2008 : Enrolment 219 : Percentage of non English background is 18%
  • 2009 : Enrolment 225 : Percentage of non English background is 32%
  • 2010 : Enrolment 250 : Percentage of non English background is 38%
  • 2011 : Enrolment 272 : Percentage of non English background is 30%
  • 2012 : Enrolment 303 : Percentage of non English background is 38%
  • 2013 : Enrolment 321 : Percentage of non English background is 43%
  • 2014 : Enrolment 360 : Percentage of non English background is 52%
  • 2015 : Enrolment 384 : Percentage of non English background is 53%
  • 2016 : Enrolment 440 : Percentage of non English background is 55%
  • 2017 : Enrolment 447 : Percentage of non English background is 59%
  • 2018 : Enrolment 428 : Percentage of non English background is 63%

The enrolment increase I have already discussed in the previous article. However take a note of the increase of students with non English background, it went from 18 percent in 2008 to 63 percent in 2018. This is very significant changes consider Killara is one of the “old” suburb and established for a long time, also dominated by detached housings until recent years.

Let’s go over this in a bit more detail for those that are not familiar with the public schools in the Sydney north shore areas. All the public schools in Sydney north shore area that I know of all got larger kindergarten cohorts than their year four to six counterparts. For example, the kindergarten can easily have six class compare to two in year six. The class size is smaller in kindergarten level from memory is 20 compare up to 30 in year six. This means that it is not unusual to have double the number of kindergarten students compare to year six.

What happens is many parents often opt for the local public school when the children are young to take advantage of local proximity. When the kids got older from roughly year 3 onwards, a lot will be leaving for the private schools. This is a very common phenomenon in the north shore area.

Now we got that out of the way, let’s do some number regarding this using the fact above. For the students entered kindergarten with the school in 2012, they will be year six in 2018. You will get new students join and some leave, however, the composition do not change as significantly compare to the changes in kindergarten enrolment. If kindergarten in 2012 got 45 per cent of non-English background and in 2016 to achieve the school-wide ratio of 63 per cent, the kindergarten class in 2018 probably has a non-English background ratio of 75 to 80 per cent.

So here is another interesting series of study of Killara Public School. I enjoyed the research and the actual visit to the school. So I wish everyone a happy Sunday and enjoy the sleep in.

As usual, contact the school in question or Department of Education for the final confirmation and you can also access the full NSW and Sydney Public School Catchment Map by following this link.

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