Must be so good

Have you ever noticed that the more prestigious the school the higher the admissions scores and fees are? Pretty obvious observation, I guess. It should be hard to get into an elite school, right?

If these schools are so good, they ought to be able to teach anyone, shouldn’t they? Their teachers, programs and facilities must be so good, that any student would be be able to go in and achieve success. Why then, do they need admissions tests at all? Or behaviour reports? Or NAPLAN data? I mean, students who already achieve highly are likely to continue to achieve highly … aren’t they? Or, are these elite schools only effective for students who are wealthy, well behaved, self-managed and high achieving already?

You’d think an elite school, with all their moral and ethical grounding, would be seeking to spread their outstanding knowledge and skill to those most in need. Perhaps enrolling anyone within their geographic area? Or maybe some kind of enrolment lottery? After all, everyone is entitled to the very best education, aren’t they?

Interestingly, OECD data from the past three P.I.S.A tests demonstrates clearly that once socio-economic factors are considered – private school students do not outperform public school students. And, since elite private schools only enrol high achieving students, we can only conclude that public schools are in fact, far superior at ‘developing’ such students.

I wonder what it is you’re paying for then?

You’re paying for prestige. Elite private schools are elite at one thing - being elitist. Every underperforming or struggling student who is encouraged to leave (or expelled from) their elite school ends up somewhere else, usually a public school. And that school IS required to enrol every student in its geographic area, without admissions tests, without luxurious facilities.

So, where does the best education occur? In schools that only teach high achieving students? Or in the schools that develop them?

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