Push to open up selective schools for more ‘inclusive’ education
Education Minister Rob Stokes says opening up selective schools to local students would create a more equitable education system, as the NSW Department of Education reviews the decades-old system for teaching the state’s brightest students.
Mr Stokes said the selective system should not “create a rigid, separated public education system”.
“While recognising that selective schools have a history and are popular, is it correct that local kids must walk past a local public selective school that is closed to them?” he said.
“We need to have public schools that are inclusive of everyone rather than deliberately separate children on the basis that some are gifted and talented and others are not.
“There may be merit in opening up selective schools to local enrolments and providing more local opportunities to selective classes in comprehensive schools.”
It is understood the idea involves introducing comprehensive streams to selective schools.
It comes as the department continues a wide-ranging review of its gifted and talented policy for NSW public schools, including an overhaul of the entry test for selective schools amid concerns that wealthy families are able to game the system by engaging expensive tutoring services.
NSW currently has 19 fully selective and 29 partially selective schools, the most of any state, and the Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage (ICSEA) shows that the state’s top-performing selective schools such as James Ruse, Baulkham Hills and North Sydney Boys are significantly more advantaged than exclusive private schools such as The King’s School and Knox Grammar.
ICSEA scores are used by the n Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) to assess the socio-educational background of a school’s student cohort based on geographical location and parental education and occupation, with a higher score indicating a higher level of advantage.
“Is it correct that local kids must walk past a local public selective school that is closed to them?” Education Minister Rob Stokes said. Photo: Robert Pearce
The median ICSEA score in NSW is 1000.
James Ruse has an ICSEA score of 1240 and North Sydney Boys has a score of 1210, compared with King’s score of 1160, and Knox’s score of 1178.
Additionally, selective schools consistently outperform private and comprehensive schools in the Higher School Certificate, and comprised nine out of the top 10 schools by performance in last year’s exams, including the privately selective Sydney Grammar.
Professor of education at the University of Sydney, Anthony Welch, said that a local intake to selective schools could ensure they better reflect the wider population.
“What we know about those schools is that they’re increasingly selective not merely in academic terms but in social terms too,” Professor Welch said.
“Having a wider intake and more mixed classes would improve equity.”
Professor Welch said selective schools also impact nearby comprehensive schools.
“They cream off all the high-achieving kids from the whole area, so the impact on neighbouring schools is quite the opposite,” he said.
Mother-of-two Licia Heath, from Sydney’s east, said having two selective schools, Sydney Boys and Sydney Girls, in the area has contributed to overcrowding at her local comprehensive school, Rose Bay Secondary College, which had 1132 students in 2017.
“We think the school’s going to be in absolutely dire straits,” said Ms Heath, who is a spokeswoman for the Community for Local Options for Secondary Education (CLOSE), which is calling for a new comprehensive co-educational high school for the area.
Ms Heath said she’d be happy to send her sons Jude and Leo Jungwirth, aged 9 and 6, respectively, to Sydney Boys if it was opened to local students.
“I’ve had a look at the academic requirements and possibly one of our sons would get into it, but we want them to be at the same school,” she said.
Labor’s spokesman for education Jihad Dib said that he supports opening up selective schools but is also pushing for more selective streams in comprehensive schools.
“Opening up selective schools to students who are otherwise excluded will ensure they’ve got the opportunity to go to a high-performing school,” Mr Dib said.
“But what I’d really like to see are selective streams in every school so kids who want a selective school education can go to their local school.”Posted in: 苏州美甲