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Principal's Blog

2015 TERM 4

The MySchool Website

There has been a lot of debate over this website, which I have followed with interest. I feel that, overall, it is a good addition to the information available to the families of school children in Australia, and I applauded the government for launching it despite some furious opposition.

Looking at our schools results, and the positive feedback that came from them, I was pleased that it had been launched when it was, not a year earlier, as we had not done so well, especially in year five. The previous years exam was sat by a group of whom half had not started with our school, who pulled our results down. Now, in a school as small as ours, one or two children (of a group of 4-8 participants) who do not do well will have a much larger impact on the result than in a bigger school, but for me it illustrated the pressure schools will now feel to not accept struggling students, students who not only take additional teacher and tutor time, but also pull down the whole school's grade.

The other concern is that it pushes toward a narrowing of the curriculum, as was seen by some regional offices of the Victorian Department of Education telling their schools to concentrate on preparing their children for the NAPLAN exam. If this leads to a cancelling of sport or art or drama then we risk falling into the trap of some of our regional neighbours (I am talking countries) who produce quite brilliant maths students, but children who have no other skills.

My final comment actually arises from the strength of the website, and that is that it actually allows parents to know how their school is performing. My follow up to this is… well, what now?

I mean this from the perspective of families who are unable for financial reasons to either move to another better school as they cannot afford the school fees, or, afford to live in the zone of a high performing school. To me, all this knowledge affords these families is a big frustration.

The logical (logical for me at least) extension from this knowledge is a tool that allows families to vote with their feet – that is, move to a school that better matches their expectation or needs. This though requires more than a website – this would require a funding mechanism that supported choice in education.

A final point, actually two. FCS will not make dark green on the MySchool website our number one goal – our order of priorities will remain: 1 – happy children, 2 – viable children and 3, academically successful ones. And we will continue to enrol children, when vacancies arise at higher levels, with the knowledge that these children generally require more help and do not generally contribute to our MySchool rating.

I am not sure that all schools will take this approach. I am worried that this website will lead to schools not enrolling lower performing students, or to even actually encourage them to move on. I hope that this does not become the norm.



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