Which state is the next?

Now that ACT school catchment has been completely mapped. I am considering which state to move onto next. I have actually done considerable work for just about all states already and it is really a matter of expanding the work and making them public at this stage.

With number of things happening right now, I am having to ration my time somewhat and unable to devote full time to the school catchment mapping project. I most likely will pick a state out of Western Australian, Victoria or South Australia to focus my energy on. I am enjoy the experience and hopefully your guys found the work done useful as well.

Interesting article on which children do more homework

I came across this article Girls, children from Asian and wealthy backgrounds do more homework on SMH. The basic finding of the survey is that

Australian students aged 10 to 13 do an average of four hours of homework a week: 37 minutes on a typical weekday and almost an hour on weekends, a Roy Morgan survey has found.

That’s an increase of 40 minutes since 2007, but still one-third of the time they spend watching television each week. Australian tweens also use the internet at home for an average of 10.5 hours a week and play computer or console games for 5.5 hours.

The 2015 survey of 1628 children also found girls, only children, and students from Asian backgrounds and wealthier families did more homework than average.

The article does not go into why some students do more homework than the others. I think the reason why children from different background doing differ down pretty much to parental involvement. Parents with Asian background tend to value academic result highly and in my experience in general wealthier parents also tend to be more involved with their children’s education. I think the point I try to make is the biggest contributing factor to children’s academic perform is probably parental involvement than anything else.

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How hard it is get into selective high schools in Sydney and NSW

I have come across this interest information on the NSW Department of Education website. There are tonnes of good information and rather interesting one as well.

First on where this score coming from by directly quoting the NSW Department of Education.

Entry into these schools in Year 7 is determined by the students’ results in the Selective High School Placement Test in English (including reading and writing), mathematics and general ability, together with their primary school’s assessment of their performance in English and mathematics. Other evidence of academic merit may also be considered.

Second some quantitative information, there are 17 fully and 26 partially selective high schools in NSW with majority of them located in Sydney which is not surprising given that most of the NSW population resides in Sydney. In additional to those schools, there are also 4 additional agriculture high schools which are also selective high schools as well. There is also a virtual selective high school as well. In 2016 there were 4215 vacancies in all selective schools and 13118 applicants, so basically only 1 in 3 applicants got into the selective school.

Selective High SchoolMinimum Entry Score at 13/04/2016
James Ruse Agricultural High School239
Baulkham Hills High School231
North Sydney Boys High School225
Sydney Girls High School214
Hornsby Girls High School212
North Sydney Girls High School212
Sydney Boys High School212
Fort Street High School211
Girraween High School210
Normanhurst Boys High School210
Northern Beaches Secondary College (Manly Campus)204
Hurlstone Agricultural High School (Day)200
Penrith High School200
Chatswood High School195
St George Girls High School195
Parramatta High School192
Caringbah High School191
Sydney Technical High School191
Sefton High School189
Ryde Secondary College186
Smiths Hill High School186
Blacktown Boys High School182
Merewether High School182
Gosford High School180
Tempe High School180
Blacktown Girls High School179
Sydney Secondary College (Balmain Campus)179
Sydney Secondary College (Leichhardt Campus)179
Macquarie Fields High School174
Alexandria Park Community School170
Virtual selective school (Aurora College)170
Moorebank High School167
Bonnyrigg High School166
Prairiewood High School166
Rose Bay Secondary College164
Kooringal High School163
Elizabeth Macarthur High School161
Armidale High School160
Auburn Girls High School160
Duval High School160
Gorokan High School160
Grafton High School160
Granville Boys High School160
Karabar High School160
Peel High School160

Not a surprise which schools sits at top of this list. I probably will do another follow up blog entry to go into details on some of the specifics. Anyhow I thought this is something fun and interesting to share with everyone.

Just a tidbit for thoughts, do your guys think your local school in Sydney reflect the population that lives around them?

I read this article “Competition for the best school zones changes suburb demographics” on Sydney Morning Herald today. I think it is a wrong conclusion to draw from what is happening at schools in  Australian wide and particular in Sydney.

Follow is the main reason the article think why your local school in Sydney no longer reflect the population that lives around it.

And that’s not only a result of parents in socially disadvantaged areas sending their children to private schools, but also parents moving house, renting or lying about where they live to put their kids into popular public schools.

This article reference the study “Uneven playing field: the state of Australia’s schools”, I have not had chance to read that through yet, however it looks to be very interesting and fits what I understand is happening with the Australian education system right now.

Yes, I agree that your local public schools in Sydney no longer reflect the population that lives around it. However the main reason is the private and public education system in Australia rather than anything else. The flow of most advantaged students to the private schools happens all around Sydney. This is not limited to the socially disadvantaged areas, it also happens with a rampant fashion with the public schools in the most affluent areas in Sydney as well.

One interesting tidbits that you can not easily see from just looking at the Myschool data is the number of students break down per year. Public schools in North Shore is a good example, these suburbs area among the more affluent areas in Sydney. The school enrolment number actually shrunk dramatically from year three on wards. A typical public school in the North Shore area may have five classes at Kindergarten level, however at Year Five at Six, this can easily shrunk down to less than three, less than half of the Kindergarten enrolment number. You get no prize for guessing where those students went, private schools.

Public schools in all areas of Australia and especially in Sydney are left dealing with largest proportion of socially disadvantaged students. It is not a wonder that plenty of parents shell out millions to buy into catchment area for particular schools. The main reason why a school perform well are the education and social economical advantage of the parents, school itself only play relative small role in this. Parents that go through all those trouble to place their children into a particular school tend to be the more involved type and most of time are solid middle class in my experience. You gather all those kids with the particular parents into any school, it will almost always guarantee to turn it into a good one.

Currently with how the Australian education system works, I am not surprised that well off parents send their kids to private and other schools to avoid their local public schools. I am a big supporter of Australia Public Schools, we really need to rethink and how we approach education to make it work better.

 

 

School Parenting Experience Entry #3 (First Term School Holiday Summary)

Now that school holiday is over, I think it is time to go over what happened during that. My wife had met the teacher and brought home a stack of holiday work. We got stacks of home reading book enough for two weeks. There are also items such as number sheet, letter and word pronunciation sheet. New sight word as well, this time is blue word. I also got the task of practicing writing A to Z as well.

I made good progress with the blue sight word before the holiday, so started on green words with him as well. He is doing well with this set and he got all done already as well before the break finished. I started on the red words as well, this set feels more difficult to me and probably will take a while to for him to get it down pat. What I found useful in learning sight words is reading books with the particular words in them, this seems to help a lot.

I made reasonable progress with the rest of tasks, I have been trying to at least get 15 to 30 minutes each day going over the items described earlier. His writing is still pretty weak, he can write them, but not too pretty to look at. In comparison my daughter at same age already writes decently, I guess I still have a lot of catching up to do. Wife is planning to start the son on piano next week, I am sure how well he takes it.

School Parenting Experience Entry #2 (First Term Summary)

I regret that I had not through about document this experience earlier. However that being said, better later than never I guess. First term for the first few weeks, I basically tried to teach my son how to read and pronounce letters and do the daily book reading. I was and still do the daily book reading for my son every day, he enjoys them greatly.

He got handed his first set of sight words which is called Golden Words. This is a set of twelve words together consist twenty five percent of total English words used. I had a lot of trouble help him through this set of words. Pretty sure it took me about four or five weeks before he remembered them. The second set got twenty words in them, despite more words this set was much easier for me. This set took my son about three weeks to pass the test. The third set was called blue words and consisted of only ten words. This took me about one week to teach my son, however he had not got a chance to get it tested with his teacher. So with the onset of school holiday, I have started teaching his Green words which is a set of twenty words. This set feels harder for me and may took me a while and I will try to get it learnt before school starts back up again. For comparison most of kids in his class are already towards end of twelve word set before the conclusion of first school term.

Also every week students in the class will have their turn to present an item called news week. This could be their favorite lullabies, what festival they celebrate etc. There are also other activities like Easter Parade etc as well which is fun for both students and parents to attend. There are also weekly assembly meeting which students gets present awards they have received, I have attended a few, these are pretty good as well. Often they will have various of performance such as music bands etc as well. My wife and I usual taking turning attending the events where possible, both of us work full time so it is about the best compromise that we could make.

School Parenting Experience Entry #1 (Introduction)

I have two school age children currently enrolled in one of the public school in Upper North Shore Sydney area. The elder one is in year 2 and young one just started Kindergarten. My wife handled most of after school parenting relating to the education aspect for my eldest children. With my youngest who is a boy entered into Kindergarten, I have been handling his after school educations.

I think what I will do is blog about what I have done and progress every few days or whenever there is important events happening. This entry will be an introduction and just going over the background.

First it is very common in the North Shore area for the parents to hold back their children one year to enter the school even if they already met the entrance age requirement. My son’s birth is close to the to middle of the year and we did not choose to delay the schooling, he is by far the youngest in his whole class.

My children’s experience with Kindergarten is that school concentrate on their reading, writing and oral, primarily English skills. There are also many other activities, like painting, computer class etc. There are usually English for second language (ESL) teachers in Sydney public schools that after assessment when entering school, he or she maybe placed into additional ESL classes to reinforce their English skills. My son is doing two one hour ESL class each week.

With Kindergarten the pattern goes learning the sight words, starting from Golden to Lemon words, in total twelve sets. This is accompanying by incrementally more complex daily book reading. What I will do is to try and keep a sort of progress report on this. I am sure I am missing some stuff, but the details should improve once I start with better record keeping.

 

A small tidbits about NSW Sydney high school catchment

I am preparing for more high school catchment update for Sydney which I will try to keep it happening on a daily basis in the near future while the information last. In one of the previous blog I mentioned there are three types of none selective state/public high school that is Boys, Girls and Co-educational type. With Boys and Girls only high schools, they are not obligate to accept every applicants from their catchment, for example if there are only enough space for 200 and there are 400 applicants then half will miss out. The usual criteria is residential proximity to the school in question. This scenario is fairly common for the single sex schools that are in demand such as Willoughby Girls etc.

Co-educational high school however are legally obligated to accept every local applicants who lives within the school catchment. Also all catchment for Boys and Girls high school are overlaid by a catchment of Co-educational high school.

It is very difficult to create map with three different similar layers on top of each other which would make it very difficult to read. I am going to start out by splitting all three types to their own maps. Possibly in the future when I will change or merge when more elegant solution is found.

Enrolment Surge in Sydney North Shore Area

I have read the SMH article a few days back regarding the enrolment increase in NSW public School, you can find the actual article by following this link. I have particular interest in the North Shore area, so I thought I do a quick analysis of this area first. I have used the myschool to collect the data from 2008 to 2014. In there mere span of six years from 2008 to 2014, the enrolment number in the public school at primary level in the Sydney North Shore area went from 18417 to 22441, this represent an increase of 22%.

Detailed the school by school break down as following

 20082014Percentage Growth
Artarmon Public School66798047%
Asquith Public School28233720%
Beaumont Road Public School5836084%
Beauty Point Public School24030025%
Cammeray Public School66487632%
Castle Cove Public School37549031%
Chatswood Public School68395740%
Gordon East Public School27235229%
Gordon West Public School42554829%
Greenwich Public School35548436%
Hornsby Heights Public School29738630%
Hornsby North Public School63382030%
Hornsby South Public School38951432%
Lane Cove Public School7898244%
Lane Cove West Public School32757676%
Lindfield Public School66072510%
Lindfield East Public School7177647%
Middle Harbour Public School3845635%
Mosman Public School59169618%
Mount Colah Public School38041910%
Mount Kuring-gai Public School168154-9%
Mowbray Public School26737842%
Neutral Bay Public School65489837%
Normanhurst Public School27031717%
Normanhurst West Public School36745023%
North Sydney Public School59875126%
Northbridge Public School46055521%
Pymble Public School53264822%
Roseville Public School6236200%
St Ives Public School3813933%
St Ives North Public School64277320%
St Ives Park Public School203167-18%
Turramurra Public School4705129%
Turramurra North Public School2983073%
Wahroonga Public School6817236%
Waitara Public School6096598%
Warrawee Public School38261762%
West Pymble Public School321306-5%
Willoughby Public School77899428%
Total Enrolment Number184172244122%

As you can see from the table there are some astonishing increase in number of enrolment for some school, in particular Lane Cove West and Warrawee Public School, each had seen 76% and 62% in total enrolment with just six years. There are twelve school in total had increase of more than thirty percent within the same time period. There are twenty three school in total recorded more than twenty percent growth in enrolment during this time period.

Twenty two percent overall growth is already very extreme, however some schools are experiencing very significant growth even higher than this rate. There really need to be some serious forward planning and capacity increase. From what I can see personally, this trend is unlikely to slow down anytime soon in Sydney at least in the North Shore area.

Many of the public schools in the area that I know off already crammed full of demountables or are in the process of building more to deal with the increase in enrolment. We really need to build and expand more classrooms. This shows how shore sighted the state government had been selling off all the state school sites not that long ago. Education is one of the most important investment we could make in a society and public education act as a safety net for the most disadvantaged which should have receive corresponding priorities.

 

 

 

My journey through “Educational Opportunity in Australia 2015” (Summary and Conclusion) Part 6

Reading this study has been very interesting and also educational experience for me. Let’s first get some data down

About six in 10 or more of all children starting school get through early and middle childhood with the kinds of academic and social skills needed for later success. Similar numbers complete school and are fully engaged in education or work by their mid-20s. For this large group of young Australians, the education and training system works well and they succeed across all stages, making the most of the opportunities that the system provides. #1

Success at each stage varies by Indigenous status, language background, region and gender, and by the socio-economic status background of students. Only 68.3 percent of children born to parents in the bottom fifth of family socio-economic status are school-ready, compared with 84.8 percent of children in the top fifth. The disparity is similar in the middle years. Strikingly, only three in five from the bottom fifth (bottom two deciles of socio-economic status) complete a Year 12 certificate or equivalent by age 19, compared to more than four in five from the top fifth. Finally, socio-economic status affects the likelihood of economic success in the transition to adulthood, with 85 percent of those born into the top fifth being fully engaged in education, training or work at age 24, compared to just 65 percent of those in the bottom fifth.   #2

The effects of student disadvantage are quite strong in Australia compared to other countries, partly due to the extent of segregation and effects of differences in the concentrations of disadvantage on the performance of individual learners, and the education providers that they attend. #3

The climate and effectiveness of schools are also influenced by ‘push-down’ from systemic effects in postschool education and employment. Australian school leavers are caught in a difficult position, between an increasingly constrained labour market, which pushes young learners (especially women, who have lower uptake of apprenticeships) towards tertiary education, and competitive thresholds for university entrance. The squeeze at this critical transition point has severe consequences for learners who have not stayed on track throughout their schooling, and who are thereby disadvantaged in relation to their peers in accessing tertiary study and employment. While the system offers some ‘second chances’ that benefit many of these learners, data indicates that these are not accessed by some of the groups most in need. This means that the differences in educational opportunity that arise in the course of learners’ progress through the education and training system translate to inequalities in life outcomes at adulthood, reducing equity, productivity and social cohesion in Australian society. #4

Let’s do some conclusion of my own

  1. Socio-economic status is the biggest “predication” factor that on how well each student reaching the milestones and perform academically.
  2. Early childhood education matters.
  3. School matters, particular in NSW and VIC, less so in other states.
  4. Failing to reach earlier milestones can have cumulative affect later on.
  5. The high levels of segregation of students in Australia, due either residential segregation and the sector organisation of schools, tend to reinforce patterns of inequality and strengthen differences in school performance. This means that students from disadvantaged socio-economic status backgrounds tend to do worse because of the extent of segregation. #5

Let’s hope your guys enjoyed this as much as I did and will try to blog more regularly in the future.