What are the worst schools in the Parramatta region, Australia
January 10, 2015 10:20 PM   Subscribe

I would like to find out which state schools (primary or secondary) parents prefer to avoid in Parramatta and the surrounding region. I have tried to google this and am not having much luck. When I find rankings, they are either limited to e.g. "The top 20 schools in the region!" or they don't seem to be searchable for such a wide region. For example I found one where you can list all school rankings for a postcode, but I've got about 30 postcodes I'm interested in, and I wonder if there's an easier way. I am also interested in subjective opinions as well as rankings. Any suggestions?
posted by lollusc to Education (12 answers total)
Oh, and a secondary question: once I've found a school, how do I find out its catchment area? I can see lots of places online where you can put in your address and it tells you which school serves that area, but nowhere where you can put in a school and get a map of what areas are assigned to it.
posted by lollusc at 10:35 PM on January 10, 2015

The easiest way to get a subjective opinion would be to find a Parramatta parents group or a community group on Facebook, and ask there. Or if there isn't one for the whole area, look for particular suburbs' groups and ask for schools around the general area.

Otherwise, there's not likely to be an easier option, unless the local papers do charts of their school results at testing time? (our paper does).
posted by indienial at 11:13 PM on January 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

You can find league tables from 2010 here and here for all of NSW. I'm not sure if they'll give you enough information, but they're a start.
posted by yellowcandy at 11:35 PM on January 10, 2015

Yellowcandy, those are exactly what I'm looking for, except they would really only be usable if sortable by ranking or suburb. But it's a start, so thanks.
posted by lollusc at 2:14 AM on January 11, 2015

Ok,I just I found this, which is pretty much good enough for my needs, as the results give surrounding suburbs as well as the ones you select. But if anyone else finds anything better or has opinions, I'd be interested.
posted by lollusc at 2:29 AM on January 11, 2015

Heya, I know a teacher in the Auburn area...is that close enough? She'd answer questions honestly if you'd like. Memail me. (And then the double bonus of being able to invite you for dinner and Cards Against Humanity with red thoughts and smoke et al.)
posted by taff at 3:04 AM on January 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

or has opinions

Oh, I have those; I'm a school IT technician so I get a good closeup inside view of MySchool and what it's doing to education in this country.

NAPLAN was never designed as a tool to rank schools in any meaningful way, and all the league tables built on top of it are complete and utter bullshit. Don't fall into the trap of compounding the bullshit by using a bullshit league table as a school selection tool.

Interview principals, preferably on site, and choose any school whose principal strikes you as a sane, well rounded, competent human being with the students' best interests at heart. Talk to teachers. Talk to parents. Make a human decision. Please, please don't give a fundamentally broken, unfit-for-purpose IT clusterfuck the opportunity to screw up your children's lives.
posted by flabdablet at 6:34 AM on January 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

Flabdabblet, I have no children and am not trying to choose a school. I am trying to find out which schools parents in this region want to avoid, so the relevance of naplan is whether parents in general are using these rankings to determine their choices. I honestly don't know if they do or not, so I'd be interested to hear about that too. It's quite possible, I guess, that when parents talk about "terrible schools" they mean something else, maybe coded racism. Do you know?
posted by lollusc at 2:40 PM on January 11, 2015

There's this too. I think it's the official federal government Naplan site. (I don't think anyone's linked to it yet). Not sure if you can compare schools, but the data's presented consistantly, so you can probably copy and paste it into excel fairly easily and pull out what you need.
posted by kjs4 at 3:18 PM on January 11, 2015

the relevance of naplan is whether parents in general are using these rankings to determine their choices. I honestly don't know if they do or not, so I'd be interested to hear about that too.

They do. I've been working with parents of primary school children for the last few years and they don't only look at Naplan results but its a big part of how they narrow. Then they look at some of the other stuff, like socioeconomic and other demographic info, and will visit schools on open days. Naplan results is where parents often first rule out a school.

For catchments, you need to call schools and they will give you a map. It changes from time and the school will have the most accurate information. Department of Education employees are still experiencing a lot of "restructuring" so can be hard to track down or don't yet know their jobs very well.
posted by stellathon at 4:54 PM on January 11, 2015

And i want to add that indienial is right, apart from anecdotes from parents, there's not really anyway way to find "terrible schools". You'll also find that at any school that a parent finds awful, there will be many who are happy. You might find this helpful. It shows how much every school has in their bank accounts. Not always, but it is often an indication of how involved the parents are and that's one of the markers of what people will find "good" about a school; lots of money = good facilities, resources & opportunities. You can speculate about the converse for schools with ongoing no money. Sadly. Some public schools are way more equal than others.
posted by stellathon at 5:09 PM on January 11, 2015

It's quite possible, I guess, that when parents talk about "terrible schools" they mean something else, maybe coded racism. Do you know?

Every time I've heard a parent complaining about a terrible school, it's been down to the school having a reputation for classroom environments that don't lend themselves to learning and playground environments that don't lend themselves to safety, usually because ineffective management of disruptive students has been in place for long enough to destroy a healthy culture of learning.

In some cases this is because the staff are chronically overwhelmed by the proportion of disruptive students. Two things fix that, in my experience: (a) an enlightened administration team with a strong restorative justice focus, equipped with (b) enough funding to maintain an adequate staff/student ratio as well as the buildings, grounds and facilities.

In other cases, a bolus of awful kids just happens to make its way through the school's digestive system. The natural reaction is for parents who care about their kids to start pulling them out of the school, which of course increases both the influence of the disruptive bunch (whose parents frequently appear not to give a shit about them or their school, which is a large contributor to the problem) and the likelihood that other parents will follow suit. Schools can easily spend a decade or two with a dreadful reputation after being abandoned by the very parents who, given an enlightened administration to work with, are probably best equipped to help fix it.

And then there's the occasional school administration, just like there's the occasional national government, that is simply so blinded by hidebound ideological cluelessness of one kind or another that it screws everything up in pursuit of some kind of unattainable purity of method. Rarer with schools than with governments, but it certainly happens.
posted by flabdablet at 7:20 AM on January 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

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