Alan Carpenter

Alan Carpenter

Premier; Minister for Federal-State Relations; Trade; Innovation; Science; Public Sector Management

Students should stay in education: Minister

18/01/2005 10:45 PM

The West Australian newspaper continues to run its fabrication that ‘the Government’ tried to stop 2004 Year 12 students in public schools from sitting the TEE so that the results for Government schools might be ‘skewed’ to produce a better result, Education and Training Minister Alan Carpenter said today.

“The newspaper today produced an example of a student who actually sat her TEE as proof of this assertion,” Mr Carpenter said.

“The school’s principal, Kerryn Oliver, is reported as saying there was no policy to discourage students from sitting the TEE, but that students were given honest advice about their chances of success.

“That is exactly how it should be.

“The newspaper repeated its assertion that ‘senior education officials’ had revealed schools had been told to ‘push out borderline students’.

“Can anybody take this stuff seriously?

“No Education Minister has done more to keep young people in school. I am even changing the law to keep kids in school longer - by raising the school leaving age to 17.

"The assertion that there has been an attempt to manipulate TEE outcomes is absurd and an outright lie.

“The people named as sources in off-the-record conversations while the story was being put together are not senior Education Department officials at all and even they would be amazed to be described as such.”

Mr Carpenter said that if the number of students in TEE had decreased, then it fitted in with the agendas of industry, of John Howard, of Brendan Nelson and WA's agenda of meeting the current skills shortage.

“This also fits in with the West’s own editorial of Monday 17 January 2005: ‘Moves to trades should please WA employers’ - in which they attribute the drop in TEE numbers to students choosing education and training pathways as an alternative to university. More students apparently are choosing to bypass tertiary education in defiance of the long-held view that university education should be the aim of everyone,” he said.

“This fits in very much with my view and for anyone to say otherwise is ludicrous.”

The Minister said The West Australian had also made a significant reporting error in its lead story ‘Public schools ‘skew test rankings’ (Saturday, January 15). This was later corrected by The West Australian in the article ‘Agency blocks State schools’ TEE data’ on Monday, January 17 - paragraph nine, page 13.

“This was a significant reporting error, especially as this school was named on the front page as dropping its percentage of TEE students more than 30 per cent in one year, when it was actually less than 14 per cent.”

Mr Carpenter said his own sources had advised him that The West Australian set out to produce figures which discredited the claims of both himself and the department that the Academic Performance Improvement Team had made a significant impact in public schools.

“The West Australian’s article on the Academic Performance Team (‘Expert Team makes little impression on TER results’, Friday, January 14, page 11) reported that the average Tertiary Entrance Rank (TER) of one fifth of schools the department’s Academic Performance team worked with fell compared with the previous year,” he said.

“What the article failed to recognise was that this means that 80 per cent - the vast majority - improved! How they can then report that the impact of the team was negligible is astounding.”

A full copy of the Letter to the Editor of the West Australian from Paul Albert, Director-General of the Department of Education and Training is attached. An edited version of this letter appeared in The West Australian’s Letters pages (page 20) today.

Minister's office: 9213 6800

Double click on PDF icon to read Letter to the Editor.