Demountable Classrooms in NSW Schools

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

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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Minimum Standard Of Literacy And Numeracy To Be Eligible For The HSC Credential

There are a couple of new article on this topic recently, so I read up on this on the internet. This is what I learned which is from 2020, students in NSW must meet the minimum standard of literacy and numeracy to be eligible for the HSC credential. The reason why this is done is so for the following reason.

The minimum standard is part of a broader NSW Government strategy to boost student literacy and numeracy across the state.

What is this standard? Again check the following points which taken from Department Education’s website.

The minimum standard is set at Level 3 of the Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF), a nationally agreed standard of functional literacy and numeracy. Federal and state government ministers have endorsed the ACSF.

At ACSF Level 3, students can do things like:

  1. Find the time and date of a music concert on an online ticket website.
  2. Calculate the quantity of paint needed to paint a room.
  3. Estimate distance, travel time and costs for a transport route.
  4. Take notes from a lecture or training session.
  5. Create a personal weekly budget in a spreadsheet.
  6. Measure quantities to follow a recipe.
  7. Follow safety instructions in an equipment manual.
  8. Enter data in a computer-based management system.

 

More information on this standard can be found at Australian Core Skills Framework on the site of Department of Education. What read is roughly half of the students will fail to reach this standard at Year 9’s NAPLAN test and will require to sit through and pass online tests in the following years in order to be eligible for HSC Credential.

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More Discussion On Australian School Funding

With the Federal budget for 2017 that had been released tonight, it is interesting to go in a bit more detail with the school funding issue. This article I have read a couple of a couple of weeks ago and is a good illustration of how warped the current system became since the Howard years. During the Howard years the free flowing mining money covered this issue, with the first Gonski implementation, Gillard simply lacked number and political capital to properly implement it. I do also think Gillard’s Labor government also lacked political courage in hoping not to alienate potential voters. The proposed Coalition changes to the funding go someway to fix this issue. However given the preliminary information we have gotten, the changes likely not going far enough to properly address this issue.

Following are some extract from the AGE article ‘The inequity is worsening’: a tale of two schools and a school funding debate.

Here are two schools, from two sectors, that are two kilometres apart.

They serve the same diverse community in Cranbourne and enrol students from similar backgrounds. But according to the latest data, the state school Cranbourne Secondary College received $10,954 in state and federal funding per student while the Catholic school St Peter’s College Cranbourne received $12,765.

In the “Education State”, a student at an independent school with the average socioeconomic make-up received an average of $11,938 in government funding. This compared to $11,064 for a student at a similar Catholic school, and just $9547 for a student at a comparable state school.

One argument laid out by Independent school is that government’s capital income is not included in this number and add on top. Now ‘et’s work the number, there are 932,107 students enrolled in Victorian Primary and Secondary Schools. In the last three Victoria State budget as far as I can make out from the state government’s budget website, it had and planning to spend 2.5 Billion dollars on new and upgrading schools. Given the previous number, this comes down to about $895 per student per year.

St Peter’s College Cranbourne charge about $4,700 per year in 2017 from the information I gather on its website. So if my assumption is correct with the example mentioned in the above, Cranbourne Secondary College get a tad less than $12,000 per year and St Peter’s College Cranbourne get about $17,500 per year.

The funding question is a very complex and need detailed study and investigation on how best we spend and distribute the money to make the best use of our limited resource.

Note: I make a lot of assumptions and there likely be inaccuracy in how the numbers stack up.

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NAPLAN Starts Tommorrow in Australia

NAPLAN test dates for 2017 are Tuesday 9 May, Wednesday 10 May and Thursday 11 May in Australia. Taken the information from National Assessment Program’s website, the following is the timetable.

Tuesday 9 May 2017 Wednesday 10 May 2017 Thursday 11 May 2017
Year 3 Language conventions
40 minutes

Writing
40 minutes

Reading
45 minutes
Numeracy
45 minutes
Year 5 Language conventions
40 minutes

Writing
40 minutes

Reading
50 minutes
Numeracy
50 minutes
Year 7 Language conventions
45 minutes

Writing
40 minutes

Reading
65 minutes
Numeracy
60 minutes
Year 9 Language conventions
45 minutes

Writing
40 minutes

Reading
65 minutes
Numeracy
60 minutes

There is also an article on SMH NAPLAN – What you need to know which is a good article answering a lot of common questions for NAPLAN and new changes as well in 2016.

My daughter is going to take part in the NAPLAN starting from tomorrow, my wife has already run her through some sample tests to get her use to the format. So it should be interesting to see how she does.

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Continuation Of Public School Sold Off

As with the last blog entry, I was reading up into more details of Sydney Public School sell off wave from the late 90s to late 2000s. What I wasn’t fully aware of is that not just selling the entire schools is a common practice, apparently selling part of the school is also done frequently as well. An example article is Squeeze put on Sydney’s overcrowded public schools on news.com.au.

Since 1987, 11 schools have been closed or amalgamated on the north shore – including Milsons Point Public School and North Sydney Public School.

SCHOOL LAND SALES 2000-2012

. Seaforth PS sold land for $2.5m, enrolments have increased since 2006 from 341 to 478

. North Sydney BHS sold land for $1.3m, enrolments stable

. Erskineville PS, threatened sale headed off after public outcry, enrolments up from 174 to 334

. Rozelle PS sold land for $1m, enrolments up from 304 to 537

. Bonnyrigg HS sold land for $1.1m, enrolments up from 776 to 1038

. Northmead HS sold land for $787,000, enrolments upfrom 715 to 896

. Gerringong PS sold land for $5.3m, enrolments up from 358 to 395

. Camden HS sold land for $7.5m, enrolments up from 1051 to 1176

. Hornsby Heights PS sold land for $650,000, enrolments up from 309 to 344

. Rydalmere East PS sold land for $1.8m, enrolments up from 176 to 191

. Willoughby PS sold land for an undisclosed sum (pre-2000), enrolments up from 733 to 939

I wasn’t aware of Willoughby Public School sold off part of school off. I looked at the overhead view of the school and cannot see which nearby part is the obvious subject of this selloff. Willoughby Public School happens to be one of the most crowded schools in North Shore area with the school that is under the proposal for a major upgrade. The funny part is that the money that results in these selloffs will not even able to purchase a decent size block in the same area nowadays.

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How Short Sighted State Governments Has Excebated the NSW School Overcrowding Issue

I was doing research on various of Sydney Public Schools and the topic various Public Schools being sold off ten or fifteen years ago. I did not have children back then and wasn’t paying attention to this. I was aware of various of local schools being sold off, but it does not seem as important back then. Now with the surging enrolment, the true impact of those sold off are being better understood. One of the articles I read is Sydney schools face queues as sell-off scheme backfires on SMH in 2014, the problem is getting worse since then.

High birth rate and immigration rate just completely upturned Sydney’s School population trend in a matter of years. Now all the schools that got sold off in inner Sydney city are really starting to hurt, imagine hundreds of classes room that can be put into use almost directly with only minimum spending. With all the ready available sites, they can be expanded more easily as well. The crazy thing is that the schools that got sold off probably could fetch double or triple the amount they got earlier if they are sold today. Not to mention state government is busy trying to find sites in the inner city that are suitable and converting them back into schools. This includes a new high-rise high school is going to be built on the old Cleveland Street High School site at a cost of likely in the hundreds of million.

I think the key lesson is with key public infrastructure, we need to be really careful not to get rid of them for quick short term gain. We need to look at state’s future in twenty, thirty years, not just today’s two to four years election cycle period. Particularly in inner city, key

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Classroom Size in Australian Schools

There is an article on SMH NSW auditor-general flags larger class sizes. The basic premise is that to deal with rapid increasing in population the easiest way is to increase the classroom size.While it is true that doing would be the most cost efficient way of solving the problem of increasing enrolment. However all the studies I read there is evidence that smaller size class, particularly in the beginning years will improve student’s academic performance. We need think very carefully about this approach of cost saving at expense of education outcome. Australia requires better and appropriately education for their children which is particularly important which advancement of technology and the associated change in society.

We need to invest more into Education and most importantly make the best use of the money we are already spending on it.

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Violence In School

There was a student got stabbed in the eye at the newly created Cammeraygal High School in Sydney. This particularly high school situated in North Shore area and is of high social-economic background, so in theory, should have less of this type of issues. In my Sydney school days just from memory, there was one boy got expelled for organising revenge ambush after school on another student. Another student got stabbed outside of school in Year 12 I think by another classmate of mine. So while there were a number of violent episodes involving people in my year, none were actually played out directly inside the school itself. The school I went to is of middle of road type, just to give some reference on what to expect.

Some school I know got a real bad reputation and deservedly so in my days. My cousin married this guy who used to be a teacher, he quit the profession after a student tried to run him down with his motorcycle. I know in another case where the teach got thrown out of the window by the students. I have been out of High School for a long time and not kept up what is happening these days. I wonder whether thing got better or worse than what it use to be.

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New School Funding Model at Federal Government Level In Australia

Education Minister Simon Birmingham alone with no other than our PM Malcomb Turnbull just announced new school funding model. Media already dubbed it Gonski 2.0, David Gonski has been commissioned to do another report on education funding. This part is a bit confusing to me, he already did one previously but under the previous Labor Government. I am not sure which part in the Gonski plan 1.0 that was deficient enough to warrant another study in less than six years after the original study was released. The core of the new proposal

It is a “ten-year reform agenda” that will see funding increase from $17.5 billion to $22.1 billion 2021 and $30.6 billion by 2027.

He says 24 schools on the eastern seaboard will “experience negative growth” (ie have their funding cut).

In addition to the 24 schools whose funding will be cut, there will also be some whose rate of funding is slowed over the ten year period the government is talking about.

SMH Malcolm Turnbull announces new post-Gonski national schools funding package

The original study in my view was a solid one and if anything Gillard Government chickened out some of the more critical parts of properly distributing the funds and opt for the option of just throw more money at it. The current announcement goes a way to address this issue and likely in my view not going far enough. I do reserve my judgement until I have a chance to see whether this is a proper effort to reform the education funding or just window dressing.

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