Schools report shameful

Letter to the Editor of the Canberra Times:

Your front-page story “NSW students sent to ACT’s poorest schools” is deeply regrettable because it has unfairly stigmatized and shamed portions of the Canberra community.


It is one thing to draw conclusions about the quality of programs at any Canberra school based on the narrow lens of point-in-time literacy and numeracy results. The Canberra Times has acknowledged the folly of this by adopting in recent years a more nuanced and sensible approach to reporting NAPLAN results. Last week’s story can be seen as a regression in this context.

However, even more significant offence is caused by the article’s characterization of schools’ desirability or, more pertinently, undesirability, based on the socio-economic status of the families whose children attend those schools named in the newspaper. It is unacceptable to promote the judging of a school by such a measure, as it can only contribute to a school system even further divided along socio-economic lines, which is in nobody’s interest. The story is an affront to the principles of social inclusion and egalitarianism.

We are disappointed that The Canberra Times has failed to consider the flow-on impact of this type of characterisation on the students, staff and families within a number of school communities.  The reporting has been distressing to many within these communities and we fail to see the public interest in printing the article.

We urge The Canberra Times to refrain from such reporting in the future.

Kirsty McGovern-Hooley, President, ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Associations
Glenn Fowler, Secretary, Australian Education Union ACT Branch
Liz Bobos and Michael Battenally, Co-Presidents, ACT Principals Association
Susan Helyar, Director, ACT Council of Social Services