New school data now out

Townsville Bulletin - - Inside Today - by Alexis Gill­ham alexis. gill­ham@ townsville­bul­letin. com. au

TOWNSVILLE par­ents’ ed­u­ca­tion his­tory and oc­cu­pa­tions have been u s e d t o d e t e r mi n e t h e s o c i o - eco­nomic sta­tus of their chil­dren’s schools.

The data will be re­vealed to­day when My School ver­sion 2 goes live af­ter a three-month de­lay.

The parental in­for­ma­tion will re­place the data pre­vi­ously ob­tained from the Aus­tralian Bu­reau of Sta­tis­tics, with the new facts ob­tained from stu­dents di­rectly.

Ed­u­ca­tion Queens­land as­sis­tant di­rec­tor-gen­eral cor­po­rate strat­egy and per­for­mance Jeff Hunt said it had been de­ter­mined that there was a sig­nif­i­cant cor­re­la­tion be­tween NAPLAN re­sults and this parental in­for­ma­tion, mak­ing it a much bett er pre­dic­tor of so­cioe­co­nomic sta­tus. Schools will also have their fi­nan­cial data pub­lished, in an Aus­tralian first.

Schools’ 2009 re­cur­rent in­come and cap­i­tal ex­pen­di­ture will be dis­played and bro­ken down by source of fund­ing.

The site will also show­case the pro­por­tion of stu­dents from langu a g e b a c k g r o u n d s o t h e r t h a n English, while lit­er­acy and nu­mer­acy test re­sults will show a school’s aca­demic trends over a pe­riod of time, now that three years of fig­ures are avail­able.

Queens­land Coun­cil of Par­ents’ and Cit­i­zens’ As­so­ci­a­tion north­ern vice-pres­i­dent Mick Cut­ler praised the new ad­di­tions for in­creas­ing trans­parency in the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem but said there was still a lot miss­ing from the fi­nan­cial data in­cluded on the web­site.

‘‘ Things that are left out like trusts and term de­posits, phys­i­cal as­sets, in­vest­ment de­posits mean that some as­pects of the schools’ vi­a­bil­ity may be pre­sented as un­true,’’ he said.

‘‘ Trusts and term de­posits are min­i­mal in gov­ern­ment schools but they can be sig­nif­i­cant in non­govern­ment schools.

‘‘ It’s not de­cep­tion but it ( the fi­nan­cial data) doesn’t ac­cu­rately take into ac­count what re­sources the school has at its dis­posal.’’

School Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Peter Gar­rett had to post­pone the De­cem­ber 3 My School re­launch be­cause pri­vate schools were wor­ried their fi­nan­cial in­for­ma­tion wasn’t ac­cu­rately pre­sented.

‘‘ The ( launch) comes af­ter rig­or­ous test­ing, con­sul­ta­tion and val­i­da­tion of the new data that will go on the site to en­sure it’s mean­ing­ful, ac­cu­rate, com­pa­ra­ble and t hat schools un­der­stand how their in­for- ma­tion will be pre­sented,’’ he said.

But In­de­pen­dent Schools Queensl and ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor David Robert­son said 31 i nde­pen­dent schools had not val­i­dated their data with the Aus­tralian Cur­ricu­lum As­sess­ment and Re­port­ing Au­thor­ity.

‘‘ We have been work­ing con­struc­tively with ( the au­thor­ity) to re­solve is­sues in re­la­tion to school fi­nan­cial data and we were as­sured the data would not be pub­lished un­less it had been val­i­dated by each in­di­vid­ual school,’’ Mr Robert­son said.

‘‘ It’s dis­ap­point­ing that the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment is push­ing ahead with plans to post un­ap­proved data on the My School site.’’

Queens­land Catholic Ed­u­ca­tion Com­mis­sion ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Mike Byrne said the size of a school, the pro­grams it of­fered, its ru­ral or re­mote lo­ca­tion, the num­ber of stu­dents with spe­cial needs, and its ca­pac­ity to gen­er­ate pri­vate in­come all caused vari­a­tions in re­sourc­ing.

‘‘ As an ex­am­ple, av­er­age Catholic school re­cur­rent in­come in a metropoli­tan area is about $ 9600 per stu­dent, while small schools in re­mote ar­eas or with high num­bers of stu­dents with spe­cial needs for ex­am­ple, will have much higher per stu­dent in­come needs,’’ he said.

E d u c a t i o n Q u e e n s l a n d c h i e f fi­nance of­fi­cer Adam Black said the state was the first in the coun­try to pub­lish a range of school per­for­mance in­for­ma­tion and data.

‘‘ This is tes­ta­ment to our ap­proach to trans­parency and the pub­li­ca­tion of mean­ing­ful data for par­ents and stu­dents,’’ he said.

‘‘ Each state and ter­ri­tory has its own model to de­ter­mine the level of fund­ing pro­vided by the rel­e­vant state or ter­ri­tory gov­ern­ment to lo­cal schools.’’

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