Bright spots in education: postcodes shouldn’t matter

Postcodes shouldn’t matter to student performance. But the challenges for teachers in lifting kids up are complex. There are some schools in Australia leading the way.

Australia’s disadvantaged children start school behind, fall further behind while at school, and are less likely to complete 13 years of schooling. By the age of 15, students in the bottom quartile of socio-economic status are nearly three years behind Australian students in the top quartile. To prepare all Australian young people for the 21st century, we can and should do better than this.

The good news is that some Australian schools are already delivering great education outcomes for kids in low socio-economic communities. These “Bright Spots” schools are proof that a young person’s postcode does not have to be a predictor of their educational achievement.

One example of a Bright Spot is Dandenong North Primary School in Melbourne. This school’s students consistently achieve significantly higher results on the annual NAPLAN test than the average Australian school. The school achieves these results despite a challenging set of circumstances.

Some 78% of students come from a language background other than English. Over half the students are from families in the lowest quartile of socio-economic status. In many Australian communities this student profile would translate to poor academic achievement, but Dandenong North PS is demonstrating it’s possible to get great outcomes for kids, no matter what postcode they are from.

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