Following the increase in the school-aged population as a result of the post-war baby boom, Australia, like many other nations, established a large comprehensive public school system. This system was not only designed to cope with the growth in school enrolments, but also to provide a well rounded education and promote social cohesion. However, unlike many other comparable nations, Australia’s non-government school sector has also played an extensive role in the provision of school education – a role which has grown substantially over the past couple of decades.
Since the mid-1990s, enrolments in government secondary schools have been decreasing. As a result, pressure for maintaining enrolments and favourable outcomes has led to curriculum specialisation among government schools in metropolitan Melbourne – creating two groups of schools, divided according to socioeconomic status. One group has successfully increased academic outcomes; the other group no longer bothers to compete academically and has instead adopted a vocational focus.
For other nations with small, but growing private school systems, these results highlight the dynamics of an increasingly competitive education system and the impact that it can have on the opportunities available to government school students, particularly those in areas of low socioeconomic status.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/daniel_edwards/29/