Selective schools create 'equity gap'

Greg Whitby (Catholic Outlook)

The selective school system is creating an elite stream that drains resources and condemns other students to second-rate schools, a prominent Catholic education leader says. Source: Sydney Morning Herald.

“Good teachers are attracted to these schools and you start taking away a whole lot of resources,” Parramatta Diocese's executive director of Catholic education Greg Whitby said.

“If we keep going down this path, we'll keep creating second and third rate schools.

“People talk about the performance of schools and how we could be better, and that's true and it's a big issue, but the really challenging issue is the equity gap, which is getting wider,” he said.

Mr Whitby, who oversees 80 primary and secondary schools in Western Sydney with about 45,000 students, said his schools would “never go down that path”.

“Our students will sit the (selective schools) test and leave Catholic schools. People say 'why don't we have our own?', but we're not interested in increasing that inequity,” Mr Whitby said.

“It forces us to provide learning that's fit for each student and it ultimately makes a statement about the type of society we want to build.

“We need to build a robust learning community and invest in building that capacity in everyone, not just an elite group of schools.”

Mr Whitby said he echoes concerns raised by NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes and Department of Education secretary Mark Scott that the growing tutoring industry built around the selective schools test is making places more easily accessible for students from wealthier families.

Nearly 15,000 year 6 students sat the selective schools entrance test in March this year, competing for 4226 places across NSW's 19 fully-selective and 29 partially-selective schools.

Mr Scott announced a review into the selective school entry test last year to make it harder to be coached to get high scores, and Mr Stokes recently flagged the idea of “opening up selective schools to local enrolments”.

“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,” Mr Stokes said.

FULL STORY

Selective schools 'condemn students to second-rate education': Whitby (Sydney Morning Herald)

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