School systems (was dwj-digest (Diana Wynne Jones) V1 #929

Emma Comerford emmaco at
Sat Dec 18 17:27:32 EST 2004

At 03:19 PM 15/12/2004 -0800, Jon Noble wrote:
>The Australian system, of which I am part, is fairly
>similar to the Irish one (in fact is probably created
>by people of Irish origin). There is some variation
>between the states, who each maintain their own
>education system, but on the whole things are faily
>similar to what happens in New South Wales;
>Secondary schools, called "High Schools" cater for
>years 7 to 12 (ages 12 to 18).

Unless you're in Queensland and get to escape at 17! (Actually, I've never 
decided if that's good or bad)

>Classes are almost
>always only of students of a particular year, and
>whether grading by ability occurs, is up to the school
>and usually the subject in that school. There are some
>specialist High Schools, in the Newcastle/Lake
>Macquarie region in which I teach there are a total of
>12 regular High Schools with between 600 and 1500
>students. There is also a selective high school (entry
>based on a test done in year 6) a performing Arts
>school (entry based on audition in drama, dance or
>music), a sports high school, a Languages high school,
>a technology high school (these latter two are
>specialist in name only), and a combination of three
>high schools where 2 cater only for years 7-10 while
>the third takes all their year 11 and 12. Obviously
>smaller communities don't have these options.

I've never heard of these specialist schools - are they a state school 
thing in NSW? They sound interesting but also weird - I didn't even know 
how much I loved languages when I was 11, although it would have been very 
clear I wasn't qualified to a sports high school!

>Somewhere between a third and a quarter of all
>students go to private schools instead of the
>government system. Reasons vary but I suspect that
>snob value is actually the most important (and buying
>their children into an elite peer group - which with
>some 30% of the population going there is now
>nonsense), other reasons include percieved higher
>academic standards (many parents only send their kids
>to private schools if they fail to get into a
>selective government one - which have the highest
>academic results of all) and discipline problems in
>government schools (somewhat justified - we can't
>expel students who don't fit in).

Obviously this can be a reason, but my parents sent me to a small Catholic 
school because they like the woman running it and liked the value system 
they were teaching, and again with High School. I think a good state school 
may have given me similar or better results but I am happy with the person 
I became after both of  my schools, and thought the systems they used 
worked well for students of all abilities and inclinations.

It's amazing the diversity of schooling experience people on our list have 
had even within countries!


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