OUR SAY: MySchool website a great asset

IT has taken four years, but teachers’ unions have finally won an unlikely ally in the opposition to the annual publication of the MySchool website.

Each year MySchool compares schools based on a range of data, including financial information and results of the annual NAPLAN tests.

The website has been a controversial one ever since it debuted under Julia Gillard’s reign as federal education minister and there has always been a similar theme: parents love it and schools hate it.

In fact, back in 2010 teachers at many schools threatened that they would not hand out that year’s NAPLAN papers because they did not want to see the results made public.

The fear has always been that MySchool creates an unfair comparison between schools working with vastly different resources, and that the NAPLAN results would be used to create “league tables” that leave some schools facing the stigma of being under performing.

Regardless of the teachers’ protests, though, the former federal Labor government pressed on with MySchool and its annual publication has now become a fixture on schools’ diaries.

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So it was a real case of strange bedfellows when NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli last week added his voice to those concerned about MySchool.

The state Coalition government has been no friend of public teachers in the past, but Mr Piccoli’s stance might help thaw their frosty relationship.

But the teachers and the minister are all wrong on this issue.

There should never be an argument against providing more information to the public and that is exactly what MySchool does.

Taking down the website would do nothing to improve the struggling and under-resourced schools: it would hide their problems.

You can understand the minister’s interest in doing just that, but what would the teachers gain?

Only by exposing discrepancies in school funding can teachers’ unions ever hope to fix them. MySchool should be their greatest ally, not a feared enemy.

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