Oakleigh South Primary School featured on the front page of the Age Newspaper for its high performing academic results as well as the plethora of offerings to tap into student’s passions. The full artipcle is below.

THE PUBLIC SCHOOL OUTPERFORMING THEIR PRIVATE SCHOOL RIVALS

At Oakleigh South Primary School, seven-year-olds put on their own musicals, there’s a room full of robots, and a sustainability village houses ducks, chickens and cows tended by grade 3 “farmers”.

In between all these extracurricular activities, the public school has emerged as one of Victoria’s top primaries in the 2023 NAPLAN results, released on Friday.

Dux of the class: Oakleigh South Primary School is outperforming most private schools in NAPLAN testing for reading, writing and numeracy. JASON SOUTH

The Age has analysed the results of years 3 and 5 reading, writing, and numeracy and identified 15 public schools consistently outperforming their high-fee private counterparts.

Each school ranked among the top 20 public schools in three or more categories tested, scoring higher than more than 100 private schools, Which can charge parents thousands of dollars per year.

Oakleigh South Primary School, along with Wheelers Hill Primary and Serpell Primary, ranked among the top 20 public schools in every category analysed.

When principal Ron Cantlon joined Oakleigh South 37 years ago, it was a tiny school of about 100 children. Today, it’s grown to more than 1000, and Cantlon says it’s “constantly knocking back enrolments”.

 

“We try to help each child find something they love, a passion,” he said. “But we also believe in explicitly teaching English and maths every day because we know those are so important to success [in] life.”

“We try to help each child find something they love, a passion,” he said. “But we also believe in explicitly teaching English and maths every day because we know those are so important to success [in] life.”

Former students will often keep up their vegetable gardening, and return to Oakleigh South on work experience or, sometimes, as teachers.

“That’s always special,” said Cantlon. “This year, we had our first proper fete since COVID and it was like a huge reunion. You couldn’t get a parking spot for two kilometres near the school.

“This place is special. The kids want to come in every day.”

Read all about it: The top 10 primary schools for Year 3 NAPLAN reading scores (by school sector)

The Age analysis found public schools topped their private counterparts in year 3 numeracy in particular, with 20 schools achieving a median score of 482 or higher compared to 16 private and three Catholic schools. However, the top private schools performed particularly well in reading.

A decade on from the landmark Gonski review, more than 98 per cent of public schools are still funded below the Schooling Resource Standard it recommended, While 98 per cent of private schools are funded above it.

Government funding for private schools has grown almost twice as much as public school funding in that time.

Victoria’s high-performing NAPLAN schools of 2023

This month, a major report commissioned by the federal government called for public schools to be fully funded urgently, as the achievement gap between the richest and poorest students grows and inequality becomes “entrenched” in the school system.

Federal Education Minister Jason Clare wants the upcoming school funding agreement, to be negotiated with states next year, to help fix this public school funding gap and target extra resources to “things that help children who fall behind catch up”, such as tutoring support.

Analysis of the latest international PISA results by Trevor Cobbald, of Save Our Schools, shows that, when you adjust for socio-economic status, public schools outperform both the private and Catholic sectors.

“Which is impressive considering they’re underfunded,” Cobbald said. “It’s a credit to public school teachers.”

A Department of Education spokeswoman said Victorian public schools had achieved some of their best results in the latest NAPLAN, topping the nation.

Independent Schools Victoria said families chose schools for much more than NAPIÄN scores, and that the test was not a measure of school quality.

“They are just one tool that schools use when assessing and reporting student progress,” a spokesperson said.

“Parents are increasingly confident that independent schools, the fastestgrowing school sector in Victoria and nationally, meet those needs.”

By the numbers

Top 10 primary schools for Year 5 NAPLAN maths scores (by school sector

Students sit NAPLAN in years 3, 5, 7 and 9, and their results and progress in the standardised test are compared against other similar students around the country.

This year’s test introduced new, higher benchmarks in line with international testing, removing the ability to compare students’ progress from previous years.

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