Auckland school

July 16th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Marika Hill at Stuff reports:

Auckland’s Catholic schools ruled in magazine’s annual school , but an education expert has warned parents the rankings are too “crude” to take seriously.

Each year Metro rates the best and worst schools in Auckland based on academic results, adjusted according to a school’s decile rating.

McAuley High School, a Catholic school for girls in the lower socio-economic area of Otahuhu, topped the rankings based on the past three years’ NCEA results.

So league tables do not necessairly discriminate against schools in lower socio-economic areas.

Catholic schools took eight of the top 10 positions in a table comparing year 11 NCEA results earlier this month.

Metro editor Simon Wilson suggested Catholic school principals should be giving a hand-up to principals of low-decile schools.

“If this country is really going to get serious about eliminating the long tail of failure in our schools, it’s possible the single most valuable thing we could do is shoulder-tap the key Catholic educators and gives them a free hand in low-decile schools that are not doing well.”

Not a bad idea. Or allow them to set up more schools.

Waikato University education professor Martin Thrupp said it was misleading to assume Catholic schools are better.

State-integrated religious schools have more flexible enrolment schemes compared to state schools.

While state schools must give priority to local students, a state-integrated school can give preference to Catholic students from a wider catchment area.

Thrupp said this effectively means Catholic school principals can be more selective when accepting students.

That’s a fair point, but it would be useful to know to what extent principals do accept from outside their area. I’m doubtful it would be enough to invalidate the fact Catholic schools took up eight out of the top 10 spots.

“Just because the school is top of the pops in the league tables doesn’t necessarily mean it will be right for your child. They might not fit the culture of the school,” he said.

“I wouldn’t pay it too much attention myself, there’s other more rounded forms of information like ERO reports.”

Absolutely one should not decide on a school just because it is top of a league table. And yes one should read ERO reports, talk to current students, former students, staff etc at a school. But comparative data on academic achievements can be a useful part of the mix.

Metro magazine looked at the last three years’ worth of NCEA results to create the tables.

The writers attempted to create a level-playing field by taking into account decile rating, which denote the socio-economic area the school is situated in.

Schools are compared against other schools in their deciles, and they determine what schools added the most value to the student intake.

It would be interesting to know their exact formula.

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35 Responses to “Auckland school”

  1. jcuk (505 comments) says:

    Perhaps Catholic schools are better becuase the parents take education more seriously than others.

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  2. trout (865 comments) says:

    Martin Thrupp is still inventing reasons why parents should be prevented from having all the information they need so that they can make the right choices for their kids.

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  3. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    “While state schools must give priority to local students, a state-integrated school can give preference to Catholic students from a wider catchment area. Thrupp said this effectively means Catholic school principals can be more selective when accepting students.”

    Arse. Catholic schools don’t selectively take the ‘choicest Catholics’, they take any and all. Unless Thurpp is suggesting that Catholic kids are perhaps smarter than others. Which I doubt he is.

    I think trout’s comment is the more likely explanation.

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  4. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,668 comments) says:

    Isn’t it funny how all these rabid anti gummint pricks are deemed somehow to be ‘experts’?

    As soon as I saw the words ‘Waikato University’ I knew it would be a leftie bullshit artist.

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  5. Grant Michael McKenna (1,152 comments) says:

    My son is at a Catholic school- one of the 5% non-Catholics who attend [we are Anglican]. We chose it because of its educational standards.

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  6. maurieo (95 comments) says:

    How do they stack up on a level playing field when the RE credits are removed from the equation?

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  7. calendar girl (1,108 comments) says:

    Are there NCEA credits available in religious education? That would surprise me?

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  8. YesWeDid (1,002 comments) says:

    ‘it’s possible the single most valuable thing we could do is shoulder-tap the key Catholic educators and gives them a free hand in low-decile schools that are not doing well.’

    How would that work? Convert all the kids in the low decile school to Catholicism?

    jcuk – has it nailed

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  9. s.russell (1,486 comments) says:

    While I am totally in favour of information such as league tables being published, Thrupp is right about the limitations. jcuk hits the nail on the head: “Perhaps Catholic schools are better becuase the parents take education more seriously than others.”

    What would be more useful is a measurement of how students’ performance is affected by the school: what standard were they at when they first went there, and how have they progressed.

    If we measure that it might (and probably will) show that Catholic schools really are better. But maybe not.

    Then again, since parents genuinely caring about their childrens’ education is a large factor in them doing well, the mere fact that the parents care about the league tables and may act on them is going to be a factor in the results: so the whole thing becomes a self-fulfiling prophesy.

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  10. peterwn (2,934 comments) says:

    AFAIK there seem to be mechanisms in place so Catholic schools do not scoop up non Catholics willy nilly. If they did, they would lose the underpinning of their ‘special character’ claims. The Catholic education authorities would have a limited capital budget for new schools and would need to use this to ensure that Catholic families have access to a Catholic education. For all the negative things said about the Catholic faith, it seems that the influence on Catholic families together with their School system is something that does work. This is possibly confirmed by the relative silence on Catholic schools from NZEI and PPTA. Arguably if Catholic schools work well, this would indicate that charter schools stand a good chance of being successful too.

    Criticism of the ‘Metro’ ranking reminds me of the time when the science teacher made the class ‘dunce’ demonstrate the Joules Equivalent experiment and he got the answer of 4.18 (which was spot on – usually expect to get anything from 4.0 – 4.5 or so using classroom equipment). The un-sporting teacher muttered ‘errors cancelling each other out’ – just like the Metro critics.

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  11. Mark (1,301 comments) says:

    League tables based on NCEA are fine as the data is properly moderated and independent. Trying to extend to primary and intermediate schools on unmoderated data remains problatic no matter what political gloss you try to apply.

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  12. Mark (1,301 comments) says:

    Peterwn …Arguably if Catholic schools work well, this would indicate that charter schools stand a good chance of being successful too.

    The Catholic schools are integrated so treach the national curriculum with properly qualified teachers. Charter school don’t appear to have that requirement. It seems that I
    The integrated school model is a good one and begs the question on why is the govt going off on an unproven tangent.

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  13. Lucia Maria (1,988 comments) says:

    Catholic schools most likely have a higher proportion of married parents, which makes it more likely their children will succeed. So, if marriage were promoted in this country rather than considered unimportant, and maybe even encouraged and rewarded, then outcomes of children across the board would improve.

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  14. big bruv (12,351 comments) says:

    Perhaps the Catholic schools use the threat of being sent to see the Priest as a form of keeping their kids in line.

    Every child would be petrified at the thought of that as a form of punishment.

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  15. calendar girl (1,108 comments) says:

    @s.russell:

    jcuk hits the nail on the head: “Perhaps Catholic schools are better becuase the parents take education more seriously than others.”

    Can you or jcuk point to any logical reason why Catholic parents may take eduction more seriously? It could be that you are correct, but for the life of me I can’t come up with a single reason why in general, as a definable group, Catholic parents may be inclined to take such a stronger attitude towards the importance of education.

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  16. Mobile Michael (364 comments) says:

    I can speak on my experience as a pupil who went to Catholic College as to why I think they are performing better than average.

    First, there is a sense of community that is very strong. Your parents often know a lot of other parents as you worship at the same church. You have known some of your peers your whole life and also their whole families. Even if you don’t have older siblings, you friends will. And these siblings stamp out bullying quickly. The religious nature of the schools mean the teachers take part in rituals about the kids spiritual life, even if they are not Catholic themselves.

    Secondly, when I went about a quarter of the schools teachers were Priests and Nuns. Afterwards I learned there were a few who had left holy orders but remained teachers. Despite the boy buggering stereotype, they are people who are very committed to teaching young people.

    And finally, unlike other schools they don’t just rely on parents for fundraising. They tap up the parishioners as well, so are well resourced. (Your typical churchgoer being wealthier than the average person.)

    I take issue with Thrupp’s theory. Each school takes every catholic child from their parish who apply. Some accept studentsfrom other parishes, but only if spaces are available. Only a maximum of 5% of the roll can be non-catholic. How a school can pick and choose to manipulate NCEA outcomes is beyond me (unless Catholics are inherently superior to the rest of the populace. Hmmm, there might be something in that…)

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  17. slijmbal (1,133 comments) says:

    There is a common thread in many countries of religiously based schools doing better than the pack. I can think of many causes for this and would struggle to separate the relevant ones out.

    … but on a related note re-read Freakonomics in the weekend and this has some interesting drivers that they believe affect school performance (as well as a section on how to find out teachers who cheat). They didn’t reckon charter schools had them and their best answer to why pupils did better at charter schools in their sample related to the fact that someone made a choice to go to a charter school.

    It may be the fact that parents choose to care about the kids education that makes the difference

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  18. kowtow (6,701 comments) says:

    Catholic schools that offer RE (and that is likely all of them) can only teach the national curriculum RE.This is Education Department stuff and is open to all faiths and infidels,so there is no advantage to catholoics schools there.

    Catholic schools generally also try to keep the role at a manageable level ie around 600-700. The reason being pastoral .Principlals like to be able to know all the childern in the school and that is good managment. ( I can’t say if that aplies to all Catholic schools but it does seem to be part of the general philosophy ie student wellfare being at the forefront.)

    Catholic education has a long and fine tradition.People involved in it both parents and teachers are aware of that and both expect and demand a high standard.

    Finally ,I’m not surprised tat the bigot big bruv has brought his obsession and filth to,what was until his “contribution”,a reasonable and sensible post.
    Alot of folk obsess about another poster ruining this site,perhaps some introspection would be good on the part of the sex obsessed anti catholic bigot?

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  19. Tautaioleua (266 comments) says:

    Smaller class sizes, the nuclear family, regular social interaction via the church, a sense of community at school. All of these contributing factors create a recipe for ultimate success.

    McAuley High School has less than seven hundred students. I’m told that class sizes there never exceed the twelve-fifteen area.

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  20. calendar girl (1,108 comments) says:

    @Tautaioleua: “I’m told that class sizes there never exceed the twelve-fifteen area.”

    That sounds unrealistically low. Might be wise to do some factual research before accepting at face value what you have been told.

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  21. calendar girl (1,108 comments) says:

    I looked for class size information on McAuley High School’s website. Found nothing on that topic, but did discover the School’s excellent Strategic Plan: http://www.mcauleyhigh.school.nz/Cache/Pictures/893562/STRATEGIC_PLAN_2012-2014.pdf . That public document goes some way to shedding light on why McAuley is doing particularly well.

    Am I the only one who feels intuitively that many schools would not recognise the beneficial outcomes promoted by strategic planning? Or know how to develop and document a sane strategic plan?

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  22. peterwn (2,934 comments) says:

    Mark – Catholic schools were forced to accept integration or they would have gone out of business. The problem they had was fewer people choosing to take vows and go into monasteries and nunneries, forcing the schools to take on more lay teachers. The issue could have been dealt with quite satisfactorily by the Government applying part of the taxes paid by Catholic and other parents tagged for education to help pay for the teachers in non State schools. This would also have had the advantage of providing some competition in the education sector. IMO integration was one almighty cave-in to the teachers unions. They offered a quite satisfactory education prior to integration. “Fair and Just Solution” my foot!

    Seems socialists deplore alleged monopolies in the private sector, but love monopolies in the union and public sector enterprises.

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  23. YesWeDid (1,002 comments) says:

    ‘They offered a quite satisfactory education prior to integration’

    @peterwn – what are you talking about? Catholic schools were ‘integrated’ because they were broke. It was a bail out by the Government back in the mid 70′s which now means us non-Catholic tax payers provide Catholics with more education options than the rest of the us get.

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  24. scrubone (2,971 comments) says:

    It was a bail out by the Government back in the mid 70′s which now means us non-Catholic tax payers provide Catholics with more education options than the rest of the us get.

    Translation: You’d like any potential special interest educators priced out of the market, because you’re not part of their group.

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  25. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    @ YesWeDid

    Don’t worry pal. There’s plenty of tax-payer money going into the Family Planning Association, the NZ Aids Foundation, and all sort of other lobby groups to balance it up. But hey, if it’s choice you really want fine… let’s just have spending tagged to individual kids (and give more to poor kids if you want) and let parents decide what kind of education they want their kids to have.

    But you don’t really want that; we can’t have pesky parents making decisions instead of secular liberal statists who know better. That’d ruin the whole racket.

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  26. Harriet (4,010 comments) says:

    Yeswedid#

    “….us non-Catholic tax payers provide Catholics with more education options than the rest of the us get…”

    Crap.

    Other than catholic schools chargeing for kids to go there so as to provide other options – school boards at state schools can introduce other options.

    Most however don’t because they are bullied by the Union stronghold in each state school – the teachers simply don’t request individual school changes.

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  27. slijmbal (1,133 comments) says:

    little of the above appears to address the fact that religious schools in general appear to do better than non-religuous – around the world.

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  28. TM (78 comments) says:

    As has been mentioned, it all comes to the fact that most of the kids who go to Catholic schools have parents who care about their kids education. Many Catholic schools have a relatively large proportion of islanders (due to the strong christian traditions) who tend to come from lower socio-economic backgrounds. But because the parents take a strong interest in their education and upbringing, they tend to do far better than those who go to other schools.

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  29. calendar girl (1,108 comments) says:

    YWD@2:32 – “… which now means us non-Catholic tax payers provide Catholics with more education options than the rest of the us get.”

    That’s neither true nor logical. We each have a reasonable chance of enrolling our kids in Catholic integrated schools (after all, they have to take 5% non-Catholics under their integration rules). All it takes is that we as parents show some sign of seeking out what we reckon is the best chance of a good education for our kids, and that we do what it takes (a bit of early planning, perhaps?) to get near the front of any 5% queue if that’s what we decide is the best option. Bitching about having no choice for our kids but to send them to bog-standard local state schools is a cop-out.

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  30. Michael (880 comments) says:

    Having read this thread, no-one is picking the schools, learning environment and teachers as being the reason Catholic Schools come out on top. Catholics are just better than everyone else in education? It’s not just the families, it’s the schools as well. So you have to ask what they do so well over other peer schools.

    And the reason the Catholic Schools were integrated was there was a huge drop off in people taking religious vows after Vatican II. So, without the free teachers nuns and priests were they would be forced to closed. And thousands of kids would have been turning up at state schools without room for them. The Government bought them into the state system and pay their operational costs, but the schools still need to pay for building costs and improvements.

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  31. The only red for me is that of Manchester United (47 comments) says:

    What McAuley High does is offer subjects where the girls have a better chance of passing and then doing a lot of coaching with those girls to see that they pass. Many subjects which are offered at other schools are not offered at McAuley. Biology is perhaps the most popular subject and one where the girls achieve good results. To be honest in all levels biology doesn’t get too taxing. History is another popular subject. The origins of World War Two and the study of woman man power in New Zealand during the war, make it easy for the girls to learn. What you don’t see on offer at the school is economics, classics, design (although art is). No computing, French either.

    Although the school tops the poll you just know that parents in other parts in Auckland aren’t going to pull their daughters out of Baradine to send them to McAuley.

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  32. ManukauMum (134 comments) says:

    Just looking at the socio-economic area that the school is located in, will not tell you about the socio-economic level of the families at the school. From this list: http://www.maxx.co.nz/school-timetables/mcauley-high.aspx McAuley buses in from north south and west. I also know that there is a vast network of buses from areas around Auckland to inner city integrated & private schools. One of the best lists is here: http://www.baradene.school.nz/WebSpace/2088/.
    One of the biggest factors in student achievement is parental involvement. Parents who are middle income earners and paying a reasonable proportion of their income to educate their offspring outside the state school system, are going to be more likely to make sure their offspring are putting their best efforts into their school work. My take is high earners may pay more, but may be be less involved, and low income means you generally just send children to the local school without considering the options.

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  33. E. Campbell (85 comments) says:

    A reason why I think faith-based schools are doing so well is because they maintain a more traditional teaching and learning environment. This is in stark contrast to much of the state sector’s schools.

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  34. kowtow (6,701 comments) says:

    Man U fan

    They offer accounting and computing.

    http://www.mcauleyhigh.school.nz/Site/Curriculum/Departments/Commerce_and_Information_Technology.ashx

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  35. maisy (1 comment) says:

    In terms of primary schools in auckland, Meadowbank Primary was the absolute worst. My kid went there for 2 years and I had to move her to another school in the end. Lack of policy, lack of structure, just hungry for money.

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