Disadvantage among Australian teenagers revealed in OECD report

An OECD survey revealed that many Australian schools have Year 11 and 12 students who lack basic necessities, including housing and adequate nutrition, according to an AAP report last year in The Guardian.

Australia has almost as many schools with significant numbers of Year 11 and 12 students from disadvantaged backgrounds as Mexico.

An OECD study has found that many Australian schools have Year 11 and Year 12 students who lack basic necessities such as adequate housing, nutrition and medical care.

The latest OECD Teaching and Learning International Study – the world’s largest international survey on teaching and learning – says 66% of Australian upper secondary teachers work in schools where principals report that more than 10% of the students come from so-called “socio-economically disadvantaged homes”.

The figure puts Australia above Poland with 62%, almost on par with Mexico where the figure is 70%, and well above the average of 43% among countries surveyed.

In Norway, the figure is just 16%.

This has implications for resourcing:

“It is important to ensure that teachers in these schools are well equipped so that they can provide students with effective learning environments despite these potentially more challenging school environments that can be linked to having large numbers of students from socio-economically disadvantaged homes,” the report found.

After the 2013 election Christopher Pyne made it clear that he didn’t support the Gonski funding model and the principles of equity that underlie it. He and Abbott misled voters on this score before the election. He promised to have a new funding model in operation by 2015.

Gonski gone_cropped_500

I’ve lost contact with the progress of this matter, but can’t imagine that adequate resources are flowing to areas of need. Reading Julia Gillard’s book makes one realise how much she and Wayne Swan bent the system to squeeze out extra funding for schools while some $160 billion was found in budget savings across six budgets. That kind of commitment doesn’t exist in the LNP, probably not any longer in Labor either.

We should be concerned, however, that we live in a society where such levels of inequity exist. Wayne Swan in his book claims that inequality decreased in Australia on his watch. The data cited above stems from the end of his time. There is no prospect of improvement under Abbott.

I understand that out private school sector is the largest in the world. Part of our problem may be that we consolidate disadvantage in the public school sector.

The AAP/Guardian report was based on the analysis of data about upper secondary schooling from the 2013 OECD Teaching and Learning International Study (TALIS), published in December. Earlier a report relating to lower secondary schooling had been published, including a series of Country Notes, mainly about teachers and teaching.

In Australia teachers appear to be well qualified, with high job satisfaction, but the feeling of being under-appreciated. They seem to spend their day in much the same way as teachers elsewhere. My impression is that the get more professional development than the average, but it seems to be less effective.

41% of lower secondary teachers were men in Australia compared with 32% in TALIS countries. 61% of our principals are men compared within TALIS. Apparently we have the lowest proportion of women in the role of principal amongst the countries surveyed.

Australia, the land of the not so fair go!

8 thoughts on “Disadvantage among Australian teenagers revealed in OECD report”

  1. Steve at the Pub, suggested “What about Christopher Pyne for prime minister! I say I dare them to do it and make him “the man”.

  2. No need to worry. This is a self-correcting problem.

    However, until correction is complete, I do suggest you avoid parking your car on the street where it can be overturned and burnt. Avoid large crowds – and if you find yourself caught up in police retaliation, DO NOT run away but instead walk briskly and purposely towards the nearest open door, get inside and get upstairs uninvited. Keep a reserve stock of water, foodstuff, candles and daily essentials – buying a portapottie (in case the sewerage system goes down too) would be a wise and comforting precaution.

    Sooner or later all the commotion will settle down – but try to find out who won before you rush outdoors; no sense in going out of the frying pan and into the fire.

  3. The Federal Government shouldn’t even have an Education Department nor Minister of Education.
    We are a Federation of States.
    Education is a State responsibility.
    Let them trail and compete for best outcomes, adopt improving methods and reject or modify the rest.
    Learn from each other.
    The idea of a blanket National model is a handbrake on improvement.

    And on teachers, do we have a renumeration comparison to TRoTW

  4. Jumpy @3: Our kids went to school in the NY, Vic and WA. The differences in curriculum, starting ages and what they called grade 1 made the moves a bit difficult. The impact on our kids was limited because they were bright enough to catch up on bits that they hadn’t learnt. It also helped that they with a teacher/negotiator who was able to sort out principals and help them catch up where necessary..
    Others we knew were not so lucky. Some ended up in the wrong class and stayed there. Others struggled because the state that they had come from hadn’t covered key bits that the others in their class had done.
    I agree that we don’t need duplication between states and commonwealth and that the freedom for states, schools and teachers to experiment and adapt to differing student needs is important.

  5. Armed forces personnel were lobbying in the 1980s for a national curriculum. John Dawkins tried and failed.

    Gillard just got on and did it, part of her legacy and a considerable achievement. I’m not sure, however, that the people who constructed the national curriculum were the best available.

  6. The two-yearly – mostly interstate – postings of armed forces personnel has had destructive effects on the education and future career options for their children. This isn’t helped by the social bonds that are disrupted by such frequent postings.

    The top brass in the ADF fought like wounded tigers to prevent lengthening the time a member of the armed forces could remain in the one place. The original purpose of such frequent moves: the prevention of mutinies(??) and of private armies(??), such as happened in the Roman Empire, had long been forgotten – and was very dubious anyway. Nevertheless the Russell Hill ratbags were never going to change that glorious tradition for anything despite the obvious harm it was causing families of members of the ADF. lt certainly did harm both recruiting and retention.

    The differences in basic curriculum and structure in schooling among all the Australian states, territories, bishoprics, principalities and protectorates was always too silly for words – the continued existence of that dog’s breakfast defied all reason; not even soothsayers and astrologers could explain it.

    Brian @ 6: It may have been that those who constructed the National Curriculum were chosen because they were not the best available – a thing that has happened before in Australia where a program was set-to-fail. It’s an old trick. Never mind, we have a National Curriculum ( Mark I) so let’s use what we have and tweak it as we go along.

  7. Graham, The fellow they chose to head up the national curriculum development was Barry McGaw, a distinguished educator. However, his specialty was educational measurement (think testing) rather than curriculum development. His recent experience at the OECD and ACER was in educational measurement.

    I don’t know enough to comment on who he got to do the actual work and the processes they used, but I would query, with respect, whether they had the right bloke in charge.

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