Daily Archives: January 16, 2009


Found this article in the local paper today about an Adelaide phenomenon (although probably not restricted to my city) where parents of school age children are positioning themselves for access to zoned (read popular) public schools by purchasing or renting housing within the school zones. As noted in the comments, the post reads a bit like a plug for local real estate agents but does highlight some of the thinking or perceptions by families in suburban Adelaide.

Brock Harcourt's chief executive Greg Moulton said homes in sought-after primary school zones had become particularly popular in the months since the effects of the global financial downturn became pronounced.

"I think people have started to re-evaluate their finances and they're looking for value for the dollar in every aspect of their lives," he said.

"Children's education remains an extremely high priority and they're trying to do the right thing by their kids."

Toop & Toop managing director Anthony Toop said interest from younger families wanting to buy in popular primary school zones had increased dramatically this month.

Now, I teach at one of these "popular" primary schools and from observation, I think that many of these decisions aren't actually based on educational standards. I'm not saying that this is the thinking of all parents but it seemed for some, merely the impression that a place is desirable or hard to get into (courtesy of zones¹) has some figuring that popularity equals quality. Sometimes it's because of the neighbourhood which has some parents thinking that there will be less bad influences in the school yard. It's what my previous principal called "parents with middle class aspirations for their children." A quality curriculum and quality teaching seem more a bonus rather than characteristics actively sought from a school.

Of course, the newspaper editorial doesn't quite see things my way. From an outsider's, journalistic point of view, this is what's actually happening:

FAMILIES moving house to ensure entry to particular public primary schools should be good news for the State Government. It is proof that if schools provide high academic standards, good outcomes for their students and involve the community, then parents will embrace public education.

This alone should remind the Government of the benefits of properly funding schools and the public education system. At the same time, governments should ensure that those schools are accountable to parents in a transparent way.

If this means more open school reports, rewards for better-performing teachers and better resources for schools, then state and federal governments should not shy away.

The long-term benefits to society of a strong, rigorous and quality public education system are immeasurable.

Australia has a public education system of which it is justifiably proud.

Those responsible for managing and implementing our system of public schooling should have nothing to fear from fair, accurate and balanced measurement of educational standards.

My view from the inside is a little different. Does anyone else have something similar happening in their neck of the woods?

¹ Zones are artificial borders drawn around a school to define an intake area from where students are guaranteed enrolment. Students from beyond those borders are denied or given enrolement at the discretion of the school, although I've been told that this isn't really legally enforceable.