Public or private debate: Canobolas flies in face of education beliefs

PUBLIC education in Orange smashes the belief that private schools offer smaller class sizes, better-quality teaching and access to greater funding, according to parents and staff at Canobolas Rural Technology High School. 

The proportion of Australian private school students, about 35 per cent and climbing, is the highest since Federation and far greater than most developed nations.

A survey of more than 1000 Australians, commissioned by the Per Capita research group, found the perceived quality of education was the main reason parents chose private schools, followed by discipline, facilities, class size and status.

However, Canobolas Rural Technology High School had smaller  senior class sizes than other high schools in Orange, excluding Orange Christian School, had highly-dedicated teachers who gave up hours of their own time for students’ extra-curricular activities and offered quality facilities, parentsWayne Penrose and Geoff Pelly said.

Those facilities were on display at an open day on Tuesday designed to entice prospective Year 7 students. 

“This school is very well resourced ... It’s that little bit smaller, you can spend more time with each child, and I like the values of public education"

Mr Penrose attended with his Year 6 son Dylan, who had been apprehensive about going to Canobolas High. 

But after seeing what was on offer he quickly changed his mind.

Mr Penrose had two children who attended the school and would not consider sending his third child anywhere else. 

“[Dylan] was a bit nervous at first because he had a preconceived idea that [another school] was better, but now he’s changed his mind,” he said.

Mr Pelly is a teacher at the school and has a child attending.

He said the argument that private schools had access to greater funding was not the case.

“This school is very well resourced,” he said.

“It’s that little bit smaller, you can spend more time with each child, and I like the values of public education.”


Mr Pelly said he had considered sending his son to a private school but chose Canobolas High. 

Principal Chad Bliss has worked in the public education system for 16 years, but was taught at a private school. 

“I think that perception really needs to change. I am not taking away from the private system but government schools offer the same if not better opportunities,” he said.

For example, we have access to more funding because of equity funding, access to increased resources and we’ve chosen to allocate staff so that certainly in the senior classes there’s only 10 to 15 students to a class.”

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