Private schools still top, but Timboon P-12 defies trend

PRIVATE schools continue to outperform public classrooms in the south-west, according to the latest MySchool data. 

The figures released this month mirror those from a year ago, showing public students are lagging in numeracy, spelling and reading.

Among the region’s 55 schools, private colleges such as Hamilton and Alexandra College, Warrnambool’s Our Lady Help of Christians and Terang’s St Thomas Primary School ranked in the highest.

The trend was also reflected in Warrnambool’s secondary school system, with both King’s College and Emmanuel College measuring better averages over Warrnambool and Brauer colleges. 

One school that has defied the pattern is Timboon P-12 School. 

Forced to close down last year after asbestos concerns, the school is beating the national average for numeracy and reading, grammar and writing in both its primary and secondary classes. 

Timboon has reworked much of its curriculum around agriculture. 

Students in year 9 are taught maths in the context of raising cattle. 

Similarly, science students are taught genetics in the context of artificial insemination. 

Principal Rosalie Moorfield said the school owed its success to the Timboon Agriculture Project.

“Seventy per cent of our students come off farms. When you teach things that are relevant it makes a big difference,” Ms Moorfield said. “That is working for our kids because they are making a real live connection to it. 

“We don’t want to teach isolated knowledge.” 

Warrnambool East Primary School was given on-average ratings but principal Lindy sharp said she could not remember parents raising the school’s MySchool performance.

“I think that it can be quite tragic that a school can be judged on NAPLAN data,” she said. 

“I look at the people of my school, I look at the individual students — I would like to think that I have a more rounded view.

“My biggest concern is that the (NAPLAN data) is a very narrow snapshot.”

NAPLAN, which forms the data, is a standardised test introduced five years ago and undertaken each May for years 3, 5, 7 and 9. 

s.mccomish@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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