Queensland has too many low-performing schools

One major challenge the current Queensland Government faces is the need to reform a school system that historically has had a disproportionate number of low-performing schools. The extent of poor performance among our secondary schools is pretty clear in data presented in the recent Grattan Institute report Turning around schools: it can be done (Table 1 from p.4 is copied and pasted below). Based on NAPLAN results, Grattan estimates Queensland has 44 low-performing schools in reading and numeracy, compared with 43 in NSW, which has a much larger number of schools than Queensland, and 7 in Victoria, which also has more schools than Queensland but obviously has an excellent education system compared with ours.

Grattan table

Grattan has defined a low-performing school as one where the average student NAPLAN results (over 2008 to 2012) are two years below the Average Australian student for that year level. That is, a school would be low-performing if its year 9 students had the reading and numeracy results of year 7 students (or worse). As noted above, there are 44 Queensland secondary schools where this is the case. To help convey just how disproportionate the number of low-performing schools in Queensland is, I’ve charted the percentage of Queensland secondary schools (including combined primary and secondary schools in the denominator as well) that are low-performing in reading, numeracy and both reading and numeracy below.


To some extent, Queensland’s poor performance may be due to a number of schools in remote and regional areas with relatively disadvantaged student populations. Understanding the nature of our low-performing schools should be an urgent task of the Education Department’s. It’s too early to judge the performance of the current Queensland Government on education, and I very much hope they can improve outcomes in Queensland’s low-performing schools.



This entry was posted in Education and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Queensland has too many low-performing schools

  1. Katrina Drake says:

    What you see here is not so much poor performing schools, rather poor performing parents, and the stupid consequences of Peter Costello’s baby bonus scheme working it way through the system. Politicians should resist the urge to meddle in the bedroom.

  2. Katrina Drake says:

    Also, remember that Queensland Year 9 students have had 1 year less at school that their interstate cohort, until the new Prep-years work there way through to high school. This is still a few years away.

    • Gene Tunny says:

      Yes, good point about the prep year, which I should have noted in my post. It looks like we should have introduced it a long time ago if the lack of a prep year is a big reason behind our poor performance. Thanks for the comment.

  3. Gene Tunny says:

    Haha, but I’m unsure baby bonus kids would have showed up in those data given the figures are for year 9 students between 2008 to 2012. Also, I don’t think the baby bonus was completely undesirable, as no doubt it contributed to the rebound in the fertility rate, which means the fiscal challenge of our ageing population is not so great.

  4. Sue Feeney says:

    “schools in remote and regional areas with relatively disadvantaged student populations” – there are also schools in Brisbane with “relatively disadvantaged student populations” Woodridge High School – Kenmore High School

  5. Katrina Drake says:

    Not sure you could say students at Kenmore High School are disadvantaged – except of course we won’t receive our NBN roll out to our homes for 3 years.

    • Sue Feeney says:

      Hi Katrina – was meant to be a bit of a chalk and cheese contrast tho unclear in the writing. Was looking to find a state high school in Ascot area to be my comparison but there doesn’t seem to be one…..

  6. Sophia says:

    We keep getting the data showing poor L & N results in our schools. That will not change until we allow students to fail, and learn how to deal with that consequence. It would also help if more parents were supportive of the school, demonstrating a united front. The workload for teaching staff is getting ridiculous. New technology has to be learned (mostly in your own time), Keep up to date with current medical and psychological information to best assist students to learn whilst writing programs that will stretch the students who learn easily and design alternate methods of instruction for those students who learn in other ways. Teachers are professionals and are paid a salary, this means all those extra things teachers do before and after school does not change their salary, no overtime or bonuses apply. An example of this is students and teachers meeting in the hospitality kitchens at 2 am, on the week-end, so the students can enter some competition that may help their career. Schools are not just buildings that house learning from 8:30 to 3pm. There are night classes and vocational subjects that have have both practical and theoretical components. As in all professions there is the risk of being physically attacked and teaching is no exception. We as parents and community members must take some responsibility for our own children’s poor literacy and numeracy results. You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink, the same goes with education our young people.

  7. Katrina Drake says:

    Thanks for the clarification on the chalk & cheese – I understand now. Sophia did make some very interesting points.

    I heard a very interesting ABC radio program recently discussing teachers and professional salaries. They compared the teaching profession with other professional groups, engineers, lawyers, doctors etc. and noted that while teacher graduate salaries were relatively high comparably, they plateaued in the middle years, and stagnated in latter career years, while the other professions went on to be paid highly for experience. They explained the cause as collective bargaining of teachers pay scales – rather than like the other professions who negotiate their won salary and worth individually and thus do much better financially.

    All professionals work unpaid overtime, this is not unique to teaching. Other professionals would look to teacher’s paid holidays enviously.

    I’ll see if I can find a reference to the discussion, it was very insightful and interesting.

    It would be interesting if teachers were allowed to submit fee proposals; like other professions to undertake work. My fee for teaching little Johhny for one year, including extra activitiies will be ….. That might assist parents to take responsibility.

    Very interesting comments – Gene will be pleased !

    • Gene Tunny says:

      Very interesting idea, Katrina. The lack of salary progression is a major problem in retaining good teachers. A lot of Qld’s top teachers end up in the education bureaucracy on Mary st unfortunately where they can earn higher salaries.

      > >

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s